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Lady Pemrose has been killed, and her husband (Paul Cavanagh), a firm
believer in the occult, is quick to blame the death on the monster of a
local legend, which would prove all of his supernatural theories - but
Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Pemrose's fiercest opponent in the
Occult Society, who has been called for help by Lady Pemrose prior to her
demise, soon comes up with other theories, based on the facts that the
so-called monster leaves the exact same marks as a common garden weeder
and that Lady Pemrose once was a well-known actress. Lord Pemrose
naturally opposes all of Holmes's theories, and this way behaves much too
guilty to actually be the murderer ...
When crossing the marshland,
Holmes is even attacked by the monster, a weirdly glowing creature, but he
manages to chase it away and even finds evidence the monster was only made
to glow thanks to phosphor.
Eventually, Holmes's investigations lead him
to judge Brisson (Miles Mander), and with the informations the judge gives
him, Holmes determines the identity of the murderer, an actor turned
killer turned escapee whom both Lady Pemrose and the judge had to deal
with, and who apparently has made the region his new home - thing is, he
is also a master of disguise, and thus nobody knows who he actually is ...
the judge is killed, and now Holmes concentrates on a third man who had
contact to the killer, Journet (Arthur Hohl), a former prison guard turned
innkeeper - and to catch the killer, Holmes sends Journet out into the
marshland all alone - where Jounet is soon accompanied by harmless postman
Potts (Gerald Hamer) - who out of nowhere attacks Journet with a garden
weeder. But then Journet turns out to be Holmes in disguise, and he and
the police chase Potts through the marshes to his death.
repeats his role as Doctor Watson and is at his most moronic - and most
annoying - this time around.
Blending a typical Sherlock
Homes-mystery with a monster story might sound like a good idea in
writing (and it has been done successfully in Hound
of the Baskervilles), but this film just fails to deliver on
its promise, first and foremost because Holmes is quite simply too clever
for the whole supernatural set-up and thus is way too quick to expose all
that is creepy (in the occult sense of the word) as man-made pretty much
on the spot. Now this plot would possibly have worked beautifully if it
seemed even for a few minutes that Holmes is in it over his head and would
actually have been forced to challenge his own reason, but that's quite
simply never the case here, and thus the film is nothing more than another
routine mystery with the typical overcomplex story setup, the wild
deductions and the killer-out-of-a-hat firmly in place - and it'S not even
one of the better Holmes-movies.
By the way, for some weird reason, this
film claims to be set in Canada, even though everything in the plot safe
for some French language names, suggests nothing but the British
countryside. Oh well ...