Monday, 3 August 2015

"...Release The Hound!" – The Hound Of The Baskervilles on BLU RAY (Arrow Video Version 2015) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Release The Hound!..."

Hammer Horror fans are going to love this. Not only is the full-screen aspect colour print restored to its finest lustre in decades (there's an occasional white spec here and there - but little that detracts and much that enhances) – this June 2015 Arrow Video reissue of Hammer's 1959 Sherlock Holmes Classic "The Hound Of The Baskervilles" comes loaded with new Extras that are properly indepth and delivered by experts and real enthusiasts. The fact that it also includes several crew and contributors who actually worked on the film opens up the factoids in the most delicious way. Let's get to those juicy EXTRAS first...

1. Release The Hound! – A brand new 2015 documentary on the making of the Hammer Classic. Features interviews with Assistant Director Hugh Harlow, hound mask creator Margaret Robinson interspersed with knowledgeable comments from Film Historian Kim Newman and Mark Gattis – actor, documentarian and co-author of the BBC's "Sherlock" starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. There is much discussion on the actors chosen for the parts by both Gatiss and Newman – Peter Cushing as a more dismissive Holmes with his actor's love of props and huge attention to period detail – the underrated British actor Andre Morell as Dr. Watson fresh from his barnstorming appearance in "Quatermass And The Pit" - determined to rescue Holmes' sidekick from the comic portrayal of the character by Nigel Bruce in all the previous Fox Pictures – Christopher Lee as the rather pompous Sir Henry Baskerville doomed and cursed by the cruelty of a distant relative who murdered a girl on the moors for sport (David Oxley as the mad-eyed Sir Hugo and Maria Landi as the heaving bosomed Cecile Stapleton who gets to run around and heave a lot). There's also discussion on the 'adorable', quiet and organised Director Terence Fisher (Peter Bryan did the screenplay from Conan Doyle’s book). About 35 to 40 minutes.

2. Andre Morell: Best Of British. A hugely affectionate tribute to the actor Andre Morell (1909 to 1978) who played Dr. Watson in the film – includes a lot of succinct and articulate contributions from his actor son Jason Morell. Andre had parts in "Ben Hur", "The Bridge On The River Kwai" and was one of the first actors to use TV as a career outside of typecast parts in films.

3. The Many Faces Of Sherlock Holmes – 1986 documentary narrated by Christopher Lee - clips of a large number of actors who have played the famous sleuth

4. Actor’s Notebook: Christopher Lee – Archive interview with the actor recalling his work on the "Hound"  film

5. Hounds Of The Baskervilles Excerpts – Christopher Lee reads from Conon Doyle’s books "Mr. Sherlock Holmes" and "The Hound Of The Baskervilles"

6. Original Theatrical Trailer – in unrestored Black and White

7. Audio Commentary – recorded 2 April 2015 by Marcus Hearn the Official Hammer Films Historian and author of several books on the subject – along with Jonathan Rigby author of "English Gothic"

8. Image Gallery

The moment the hysterical score cross the screen during the credits – the clarity is instant – the names are clear and the image lovely. When you view the Extras that show the moment Cushing is introduced as Holmes – snoozing through the pompous deliberations of Francis de Wolff as Dr. Richard Mortimer (“Ha!) – the difference couldn’t be more marked. The film itself has its clichéd moments and the actual attack of the Hound with its cheesy mask (pre CGI) is perhaps not the greatest moment in Horror History – but there’s so much to love in this tale of Moorish dastardliness – not least of all the great pairing of Cushing and Morell – both getting their moments to shine – while Christopher Lee looks like he’s going to turn into Dracula at every given opportunity.

A wonderful reissue and one that fans will thoroughly enjoy...

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