Movie/Show Reviews: Severin’s New Sherlock Holmes Releases (1962/1968) – Blu-ray

July 3, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Coming your way from our fiendish friends at Severin are a duo of Blu-ray releases featuring legendary literary Detective, Sherlock Holmes!First up comes 1962’s Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace:

Who do you call when Cleopatra’s priceless necklace turns up missing?

Well, the Egyptian authorities should be number one I guess, but freakin’ Sherlock Holmes is definitely probably on that list somewhere…

As fate would have it, Holmes (Sir Christopher Lee… I’m sure everyone knows this legend, but just in case think Hammer Films’ Dracula flicks) is indeed called in, along with Dr. Watson (Thorley Walters) and the two quickly begin their famous sleuthin’ bag.

Before long the trail leads to the infamous Dr. Moriarty (Hans Söhnker), who has set-up sinister shop under the guise of being a respectable archaeologist, which will definitely screw up Holmes’ investigation six ways to Sunday!

Directed by Hammer mainstay Terence Fisher (who just so happened to direct a few of those aforementioned Dracula pictures as well as plenty of Frankenstein flicks, among many more) with a script from Curt Siodmak (1941’s The Wolf Man), Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace is a British/German co-production that feature’s Lee’s only turn as Holmes (though he went on to play his brother Mycroft in 1970’s in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes… and played Sir Henry in Fisher’s 1959 adaptation of the Holmes tale The Hound of the Baskervilles, opposite Hammer’s other big star Peter Cushing… more on him later) in this incredibly loose adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s final Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear.

Naturally Lee absolutely owns this picture, and plays Holmes more in-line with how he appeared on the printed page; argumentative, challenging to those around him, aloof, and a great counterpart to Walter’s more jovial Watson. Additionally Söhnker is fantastic here as the devious Moriarty, in a charismatic performance truly a match for Lee.

The period costumes and set design are top-shelf here as well with Holmes and Moriarty’s respective environs being full of lavish detail that makes this lower-budget picture to appear way bigger in resources than it actually was.

Speaking of picture, the new 2K transfer (taken from the original German negative) truly makes the chiaroscuro, black and white photography of Cinematographer Richard Angst shine on like a crazy diamond… which is stupid, but apt as the picture has crisp clarity with plenty of detail.

Special features present here include an audio commentary with Authors/Film Historians Kim Newman & Barry Forshaw that is as enjoyable as it is informative, an audio interview with Fisher, and Tony Dalton (also an Author/Film Historian… and who was responsible for the aforementioned interview) speaking on Fisher’s career, and the film’s trailer.

Moving on to the next release, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, we get six surviving episodes (each running close to an hour in length) of the 1968 BBC series adaptation of the Holmes oeuvre spread across two Discs

The episodes contained are:

A Study in Scarlet

The Hound of the Baskervilles Pt. 1

The Hound of the Baskervilles Pt. 2

The Sign of Four

The Boscombe Valley Mystery

The Blue Carbuncle

No doubt the adaptation of arguably the best known Holmes yarn, The Hound of the Baskervilles (a return to both the character and story for Cushing after starring in Hammer’s 1959 adaptation as mentioned previously) is the crown jewel here, but the series is pretty damn fun overall with impressive costumes, terrific performances, and that over-all British TV comfort food vibe that I’m sure many of you dig as much as yours cruelly.

It should be noted that these episodes naturally feature rough looking visuals as they were made for the tighter-budgeted world of TV and were recorded on tape rather than film.

More up to snuff are the bonus features present here which include: audio commentaries for each and every episode provided by authors Newman, Forshaw, and Holmes’ cinema scholar  David Stuart Davies (trading in and out), yet another audio-only Cushing interview, and a selection of “lost” segments from the show featuring optional commentary from Rigby and Lyons.

If you are a fan of Hammer Films (well their cast and crew anyway) or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest creation either of these releases will be right up your Baker St. adjacent alley!



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