Pros:Well produced, well acted, good plot
Cons:More horror than detective, unsure of Brett's portrayal of Holmes
The Bottom Line: The Last Vampyre is well put together, it's just really not my sort of thing.
Recently we borrowed a whole load of detective DVDs that someone had got free with newspapers. Its not a genre Im a particular fan of though my wife is, but that doesnt mean I dont enjoy some of them. This one, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre looked rather intriguing so we watched it last night (based on Arthur Conan Doyles The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire). The Casebook serious of feature-length episodes ran in 1990, and this was the penultimate of a 9 episode season.
Recommend this product?
Famous Baker Street detective Sherlock Holmes has of course been played by many actors, in this case Jeremy Brett. He also played him in the earlier series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Return of Sherlock Holmes, then later in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. So he had a fair bit of practice with the character
He comes across more than anything else as a grumpy Noel Coward. Though I didnt exactly like his portrayal of the character, I have to admit that it reminds me of the impression of Sherlock Homes back when I read some of the books arrogant, abrupt, and completely lacking in tact. So in that way I think it was a good portrayal, just not one that drew me to the character. On the other hand Dr Watson, his erstwhile assistant, is played superbly by Edward Hardwicke unlike some version which show Watson almost as a bumbling fool who has no idea whats going on, Hardwicke imbues him with intellect, integrity, and a deep sense of honour. His relationship to Holmes is clearly one of respect for his thinking ability and tolerance for but slight impatience with his personality quirks.
Confronting the sleuthing pair is a mystery in a quiet English country village. The arrival of a stranger (John St. Claire Stockton, played by Roy Marsden) with a dark and mysterious past has unsettled the villagers, but not nearly so much as the mysterious occurrences and untimely deaths that have started occurring. The mysterious past includes an ancestor who was accused of being a vampire, and killed by a mob for his alleged crimes against humanity. Now the villagers think that the stranger has come back to exact revenge from them, and local holy man Reverend Augustus Merridew (Maurice Denham) has come to Holmes for help. Holmes, of course, doesnt believe for one minute that vampires exist however, his continuing to believe they dont exist is going to be pushed to the limits and all his deductive powers required to solve the mystery. Theres also a family with new a new wife and her maid from Peru who dont seem to fit into the village, and they seem to have something strange going on
The story has plenty of twists and turns along the way, and really does keep you guessing about a lot of things (though sadly the major plot twist is predictable from nearly the first scene in the film!). It is filmed with more bias towards the horror genre than detective, a move which was bound to put me off the film somewhat. Theres quite a bit of gore in some scenes, which along with the subject matter got it a 15 rating in the UK (12 in Germany no official rating for USA that I could see but it would probably be R, or at the very least PG-13). Its quite well done but just not my sort of movie, so Im going to give it 3 stars but not recommended. If you like vampires and suchlike then you probably will enjoy this, the performances are good, its well produced, has a good storyline, and has a haunting musical score. If you like traditional detective stories then this probably isnt going to appeal very much, and other episodes in the same series will be more your thing.
If you like humour more than horror, you might like my Interview with a Vampire.