Peter Cushing seemed a natural for the part of Sherlock Holmes. Cushing also played the detective in the BBC series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Channel 4's The Masks of Death, portraying Holmes in old age.
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES bristles with life whenever Cushing is on screen, and it is to the film's detriment that the actor isn't visible enough. Absent from the harrowing 17th century prologue - which has Sir Hugo Baskerville (David Oxley) roasting a manservant in the fireplace as a prelude to gang rape of the victim's daughter - Holmes also vanishes for most of the narrative's second act. Cushing's commanding and flamboyant lead is the only portrayal whose essential goodness is more assertive than his eccentricities, and the only one who seems genuinely bright rather than odd or remote. Also, Morrell's Watson is closer to Conan Doyle's perception than any other: conservative but observant, aging but not yet incapable. Of the other cast members, Milles Malleson is a hoot as the sherry-guzzling Bishop, and Christopher Lee gives one of his most sympathetic and subtle performances as the beleaguered Sir Henry Baskerville.
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES remains one of the most entertaining of all Sherlock Holmes films, as well as being the first ever in colour. Jack Asher's Technicolor camerawork gives the work a rousing and surprisingly sensual feel; in the interiors, vivid reds (Sir Hugo's hunting jacket) and blues (the gloom of Baskerville Hall) are striking, and exterior scenes of Dartmoor have an autumnal, shrivelled state odd for the Summer setting. With battle lines so clearly drawn between Holmes's rational milieu and the dark cruelty behind the Baskerville legend, director Terence Fisher is in his element. The detective is the perfect Fisher hero, the Renaissance scholar with mystical undertones who, like Van Helsing, marks a liaison between orthodox religion and the science of detection.
For THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB, stuntman Dickie Owens makes the automaton pathetic rather than tragic, and without Christopher Lee under the bandages, Owen's eyes remain dead and expressionless.
A follow-up to Hammer's THE MUMMY (1959) was long overdue, but THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB is a poor relation to Terence Fisher's magisterial original. Produced, directed and written (as Henry Younger) by Michael Carreras, the film ties together the usual those-who-defile-the-tomb-shall-die scenario with the tale of Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan) - the cursed-to-immortality brother of Mummy Ra-Antef (Dickie Owens) - who needs to bring Ra back to life as he can only die at his bandaged hand. Beauchamp may produce a speech about how tired he is by witnessing three thousand years of man's inhumanity to man, but in 1900 he still takes time in seducing Annette (Jeanne Roland) away from her fiance John Bray (Ronald Howard).