Summary: Not the Best Version
Comment: After having viewed nearly all film versions of "The Hound of the Baskerville" as well as read the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I have to say that this Hallmark version is not the best. Certainly, it contains more action then some of the other versions, but it is not very realistic to the story and leaves out many important scenes.
Now, you may enjoy a faster paced film, and sometimes I do, also. However, I cannot stand Matt Frewer as Sherlock Holmes (he is very cynical), and Kenneth Welsh is too elderly to play a reasonable Dr. Watson.
My recommendation is as follows: If you want the most loyal version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," purchase the 120 minute version starring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. While the Brett version is not perfect and shows a low production cost, it is definitely more watchable than the Hallmark version. Also, Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke are good actors to play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
For viewers who want a more exciting version of the film that is still somewhat true to the novel, I recommend the 80 minute version black and white version starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Just make certain you buy the Rathbone DVD transfer ASIN: B0001DCYBE from MPI rather than some poor DVD transfer.
Now, of course there are many other versions of this film. If you have the money, you could purchase them all and compare. However, I believe what I have written above is accurate (as least for this Sherlockian).
Summary: The Terror in the Night
Comment: This story was published around 1900 and filmed many times. Arthur Conan Doyle died in the 1930s, his copyrights expired around 1972. Anyone can adopt his fictional characters and create new stories. This film follows the original story but makes some changes in the characterizations and to keep within budget: indoor shots to avoid recreating 1900 London, outdoor shots of the unchanging countryside, explaining away an electric wire. Sherlock's character is high-strung and excited, as if on some medication. Dr. Watson is played as a calm older man who is living as a bachelor. Nigel Bruce's characterization of the role set the standard. Nigel Bruce had a resemblance to the real A. C. Doyle. Sherlock was the world's first consulting detective, an owner operator of his own business and not an employee of a business or government. Dr. Watson seems to be between jobs and serves as an aide and recorder of the events. This story was said to be based on an old country legend. Many of the stories contain references to the events of that time.
A semi-retired Doctor Mortimer visits Sherlock Holmes to tell of the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. An heir from Canada will inherit the lands and title, but may be in danger. The new Sir Henry visits Sherlock and tells of a missing boot! What could this mean? Sherlock assigns Dr. Watson to accompany Sir Henry to his estate by Grimpen Moor and then report back by mail. Dr. Watson meets the people who live there, learns about the legend and the strange events. There is an added danger in an escaped lunatic murderer. The swamps are treacherous to the unwary. Is there some hidden danger to Sir Henry? When Dr. Watson walks around the countryside he is careful to carry his revolver. [They still had the right to keep and bear arms.] At the end the villain is unmasked and suffers poetic justice from his missteps. The ending talks about the police but this extra expense is not filmed.
After viewing this story I wondered if this was Doyle's subtle attack on the hereditary aristocracy? The faults of the Baskervilles seems like some genetic disease that runs in that family. People became aristocrats by conquering and plundering the wealth of others. Doesn't this still go on today?
Summary: 5 STARS FOR MATT FREWER'S TERRIFIC HOLMES
Comment: I am surprised at the hostility of several reviewers to these very interesting and atmospheric Sherlock Holmes' stories.
As a fan of Conan Doyle's stories in print and on film since childhood, I think Matt Frewer is by far the best screen emodiment of Holmes. Yes, better than the great Basil Rathbone. And that's saying something, I know. Frewer's arrogance, cynicism and touch of self-aggrandizement are just about perfect. To say nothing of the physicality of Frewer's take on Holmes. And of course there's that marvelolous voice with it's barely concealed snobbishly modulated hyper upper-class inflection.
The Sherlock Holmes Collection ("The Hound of the Baskervilles," "The Sign of the Four," "The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire" and "The Royal Scandal") are not big budget productions, but they are effective and entertaining and the screenplay interpretations of these familiar public domain stories are fresh. However, it's Frewer who makes it worth every penny (or should I say farthing?).
My favorite is the creepy "The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire."
Comment: I've seen every Hound adaptation on DVD and this is the worst one by far. I don't mind Frewer's Holmes too much, and I found Welsh's Watson to be serviceable, but there are two things that completely sink this movie.
First, many of the high points of the story are completely absent! It literally ends about 3/4s of the way through the story without an abrupt, pointless ending. Much of the fun of the story is missing...discovery of Holmes on the moor? No. Mention of the villain as a throwback to Sir Hugo? No. I could go on. The ending is particularly dumb - the motivation of the villain is never explained...if you'd never read the story, you'd be wondering why he did it. And of course, he throws himself into the open in full view of everyone without a prayer of realizing his ambitions. Easily the worst screenplay of Hound ever written.
Second, the atmosphere is uneven. The London scenes are good and the Baskerville Hall interiors are well done, but the moor looks like a schoolyard park...dark and foreboding? Hardly. It looks like a travel brochure for Ireland.
There are so many other good adaptations - Brett's, Ian Richardson's, etc. Skip this piece of junk.
Summary: The only review on this page is an advertisement. Let's change this...
Comment: I really don't want to waste too much time reviewing this movie. In fact, I wasn't going to write a review at all, until I saw the average five star rating. It turns out, the other review here is an advertisement, which is perfectly legal...why not?
But I must warn you, this is an AWFUL adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles. While Kenneth Walsh is a very good, though somewhat elderly Watson, Frewer is embarrassing to Watch as Holmes. In an interview, Frewer claimed that Brett did not play up Holmes' intellect enough. If you Watch Frewer's Sherlock films, not only will you see a performance that lacks intellect, but falls into the kind of accidental slapstick that Monty Python would praise and try to emulate for true comedy.
Perhaps it is because I am a fan of Brett that I was so turned off by this particular production. But looking again at my collection, I have both Cushing performances (excellent), the Rathbone movie (also excellent), the Roxburgh adaptation (I might be spelling his name wrong..that version had atmosphere, but misfired on the relationship between Holmes and Watson), and this version simply does not stand on its own for any reason I can think of. In fact, it sinks deep into the proverbial mire.
There are so many wonderful Sherlock Holmes movies out there...why waste your ninety minutes and your money?