After finishing his last case, recovering a stolen religious artifact, Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cook) and Doctor Watson (Dudley Moore) are visited by Dr. Mortimer (Terry Thomas). Dr. Mortimer relates to the super sleuth and his cohort the story of Baskerville Manor and its curse. He tells them that he is executor of the Baskerville estate and was the friend of Sir Charles Baskerville, the former master of Baskerville Hall. Mortimer believes that Sir Charles died of a heart attack caused by supernatural means. Specifically from seeing a legendary hound from the family curse. According to Mortimer all the lords of Baskerville Manor met their fate the same way.
Mortimer is now concerned with the life of the new owner of the estate, Sir Henry Baskerville (Kenneth Williams). Sir Henry has been living in the United States and has just returned to England to take up his post as the new lord of the manor. Mortimer wants Holmes to investigate Sir Charles’ strange death.
Holmes pleads exhaustion and tells Dr. Mortimer that he can’t take the case but he sends Dr. Watson in his place. Mortimer, Sir Henry and Watson head for the Baskerville estate. On the way they are stopped by a policeman (Spike Milligan) who warns them that an axe murderer (Roy Kinnear) has escaped from prison and is hiding somewhere on the moors. Once they arrive at the estate they find the grounds keeper Arthur Barrymore (Max Wall) and his wife, the housekeeper, Mrs. Barrymore (Irene Handl).
Watson’s investigation takes him to the hovel of Baskerville’s neighbor Mr. Frankland (Hugh Griffith), who harbors a deep hatred for the Baskervilles, and his busty lover Mary (Dana Gillespie). He next meets Mr. Stapleton (Denholm Elliott), his perpetually peeing Chihuahua and his demonic sister Beryl Stapleton (Joan Greenwood) who claims to have been ravished by the hound. Everyone Watson meets is eccentric and insane. Watson, feeling over his head, continues to contact Holmes for help. Eventually Holmes shows up in time to spring a trap for the real killer.
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” was released in 1978 and was directed by Paul Morrissey. It is a British comedy spoof based on the 1902 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There are a few subplots in the film. In some of them Dudley Moore plays several parts. Besides Doctor Watson, Moore also plays Holmes’ mother Mrs. Ada Holmes, Mr. Spiggot the one legged runner and the piano player in the beginning and ending credits.
The entire score of the film is just piano, played by Dudley Moore. Moore was also a concert pianist. The screenplay was written by Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and David Morrissey. The Baskerville neighbor Beryl Stapleton is played by Joan Greenwood. She played my favorite character in “Mysterious Island” 1961, Lady Mary Fairchild.
The film is sort of like a really bad episode of Monty Python or an SNL skit that went horribly wrong. It is full of bad jokes with some really dreadful puns sprinkled here and there not to mention a few bad accents and a waterlogged little dog. I wasn’t sure if Dudley was doing a Scottish accent or a Welsh one. As for Peter Cook your guess is as good as mine. For the most part the movie is awful but there are a few moments where you find yourself either laughing or groaning. Those moments are few and far between. Most people hated it. I can’t say I blame them. But if you like your humor very low brow and with so much camp you can smell the wood smoke it might grow on you.