A 1944 movie directed by Roy William Neill.
(special thanks to Big Finis for providing me with a review copy!)
A threat to Holmes’s life, murders on Hampstead Heath and a deadly phantom lady lead Holmes and Watson into the most dangerous investigation they have ever undertaken… An encounter which brings them face to face with evil itself, embodied in Count Dracula, the Lord of the Undead.
Starring: Nicholas Briggs (Sherlock Holmes), Richard Earl (Dr Watson), Barnaby Edwards (Mr Jack Stapleton), Beth Chalmers (Mrs Hudson/Delia Lydgate/Mary Gardner/The Phantom Lady/Catherine Hunter/Landlady), John Banks (Professor Abraham Van Helsing/Inspector Lestrade/Policeman/Meinster/Silas Gardner), Giles Watling (Count Dracula/Matthew Boulton/Dr Collins)
Yes, you read the summary correctly. The story begins with Holmes and Watson sitting around chatting about the recent discoveries of one Professor van Helsing, and ends with Holmes and Watson fighting Count Dracula. There’s no scientific explanation. We don’t learn that Dracula is actually an alien or anything like that. We just learn that he’s a real vampire and Holmes has to deal with him. I expect next he’ll help fend off aliens in tripods and investigate the strange case of one Doctor Jekyll. Or maybe Big Finish could just get it over with and do an adaption of Kim Newman’s novel, Anno Dracula. Actually…that might be pretty damn awesome.
Despite how it might sound, I actually don’t have any real problem with this mixing of universes. I consider this story to be a branch off the main Holmes line, taking place in its own reality, and in that particular universe, Holmes can indeed fight Count Dracula. Interestingly enough, not only does this story tie in with Stoker’s classic novel, but it also acts as a pseudo-sequel to “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and, with the presence of a character named Collins in a story about vampires, may very well tie into Dark Shadows.
Big Finish does their usual exceptional job with what could be very dicey material. Blending the Holmes stories and Dracula in such a way as to make it work and work well must have been a very daunting task, and I’m very pleased that they were largely successful. Tying the story in with the Baskerville tale was sheer genius.
Of course Briggs and Earl are their usual exceptional selves, turning in great performances as Holmes and Watson. The rest of the fairly small cast also do well in multiple roles with no one sounding off or unconvincing. Indeed, it says something about their performances that it wasn’t until I went to write this review that I realized how few people were in the story.
If you’re a fan of Dracula stories and/or Holmes stories, this is a good one to listen to. Sure, it’s a bit “off” as far as the Holmes cannon goes, but if you just close your eyes and the story run away with you, it will.
As a side note, I’ll be at the Gallifrey convention all this weekend starting tomorrow. I’ll have to try to find Nicholas Briggs and see if I can get him to answer a few questions, like, “Dracula and Holmes? Really?”
What did you think of this review?