Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crucifer of Blood and The Royal Scandal

Now there have been 1000 downloads of Prelude on Feedbooks. Even with the available statistics, there's no way for me to know who downloaded the 1000th ebook, but thanks, whoever you are. If I had used a pay book service instead, I might have made some money off this, but it doesn't matter. My goal was not to make a profit; I just wanted to see slash be available even in the ebook world. I wonder if Rohase Piercy or anyone who's ever been published in print, will ever go digital? They're probably holding off because of DRM issues. I'm just glad that my ebook has been downloaded at an average rate of 5-6 downloads a day for months now. Now if somebody on Feedbooks would just leave a comment about it, I'd know how it was viewed by mainstream fans who are presumably not Sherlockians.

Anyway, so lately I got a bunch of Holmes DVDs and am slowly watching them. Of the movies, I viewed Charlton Heston's 1991 Crucifer of Blood first. This film was based on a 1978 stage play by Paul Giovanni. It's loosely based on the SIGN novel, but with some added melodrama about a Limehouse opium den and a supposed Indian curse. All the non-white members of the Sign of Four gang are quickly killed off, so instead Jonathan Small makes a blood oath with the two corrupt British officers, only to be betrayed. The two officers are not Morstan and Sholto; many characters are significantly different and are renamed accordingly. The Morstan substitute is named for Neville St. Clair, the sham beggar from TWIS, although he might more appropriately be named after Isa Whitney, given his addiction to opium and the fact that his wife was obviously not deceived about his habit.

The client, Irene St. Claire, is an amalgam of a few ladies from the canon, such as Mary Morstan, Helen Stoner, and Kate Whitney. Her name obviously references both Irene Adler and Neville St. Clair's wife, but she is actually Nelly St. Claire's daughter. The other British officer is named Alistair Ross, and sometimes called Ali for short. He has no twin sons and is confined to a wheelchair.

Anyway, Charlton Heston doesn't much resemble Holmes but he does a passable job acting-wise, and his Watson is pretty convincing. Watson falls in love early and even asks the young lady to call him "John"; this is bad, not only in a slashy sense, but I won't spoil the ending. Lestrade of course is substituted for Athelney Jones from the book. Jonathan Small still winds up with a peg leg, and a pygmy named Tonga, but Tonga looks as if he is played by an Indian child, which I guess is preferable to having to see a primitive cannibal savage. The boat chase is scrapped because Small and Tonga book passage on a "Gloria Scott" schooner instead of hiring a steam launch. However Mordecai Smith makes an amusing appearance to announce the next case, that of the Giant Rat of Sumatra. Not bad overall.

I also have a DVD of Matt Frewer's films as Sherlock Holmes, and I began with The Royal Scandal, a blending of SCAN with BRUC. His face does certainly make him resemble Holmes very much, and he does fine acting in the part. I'm disappointed that his Watson looks so much older than him, but otherwise they work together well.

In order to make the international espionage work, they changed Irene Adler to a Polish opera singer and criminal who once used Holmes in a jewel theft back in 1886. The Bohemian King also is changed to the German crown prince in order to the push the "hints of upcoming war with Germany" angle. (God I'm so sick of pastiches anticipating WWI!) Mycroft also appears, though the actor playing him does not look like canon Mycroft or even like Matt Frewer. Their antagonistic relationship is sort of like that of Mycroft and Sherlock in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, in fact. Watson is not married in this, and Lestrade is very young and short. Violet Westbury is eliminated from the BRUC plot, no doubt to prevent stealing focus from Irene Adler as heroine. Irene Adler in fact uses a Violet name as an alias. The actor that they have playing Wiggins looks like a short teenager or young man, which I guess would fit the 1891 chronology better, though he still acts like a boy. (Remember that SIGN inexplicably made the Irregulars not age at all.)

The movie was all right, but with some confusing plot twists and turns. Nothing special or slashy. I look forward to viewing the other films Matt Frewer was in.


Anonymous said...

I had the great good luck to see "The Crucifer of Blood" as a play, and I remember being totally disappointed in the movie version of it.

I wonder if I can find my old journal entry about the play somewhere...

Cress said...

It turns out that a local theatre in my area is going to put on a production of The Crucifier of Blood this summer, so I may try to get a ticket and see it.

Anonymous said...

Do, if you can. It was a very good play, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.