Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson solve the mystery surrounding the death of a baronet on bleak, forbidding Dartmoor and save the victim’s heir from a similar fate.
This Hammer adaptation emphasises the horror elements of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel and provides excellent opportunities for Peter Cushing as Holmes and André Morell as, arguably, the definitive Dr Watson.
The film starts in the 1600s when the wicked aristocrat Sir Hugo Baskerville (David Oxley) kidnaps a local servant wench for his pleasure and hunts her down on the moors when she makes a run for it.
At an old mist-shrouded abandoned ruined abbey near Baskerville Hall, he murders the unfortunate girl but is then almost immediately killed himself by what appears to be a giant spectral hound – thus starting the terrifying legend of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
Since then every male Baskerville heir has died in strange circumstances when venturing too close to the moors alone, an apparent victim of an ancient curse on the family.
When the latest heir to Baskerville dies in creepy circumstances at the remains of the abbey, family friend Dr Mortimer (Francis De Wolff) travels to London to consult Holmes and Watson and asks them to examine this troubling mystery.
While technically not a horror film, The Hound of Baskervilles is one of the studio’s very best offerings.
The cast – including Ewen Solon as neighbour Stapleton, Marla Landi as his exotic daughter Cecile, Miles Malleson as the eccentric and forgetful Bishop Frankland, and John Le Mesurier as Barrymore – is top-notch. They easily match the opulent riches of the set design, making this gothic tale as sinister as it is striking.
Sir Henry Baskerville
Sir Hugo Baskerville
Dr Richard Mortimer
Francis De Wolff
John Le Mesurier