THE CASE OF THE WHITECHAPEL VAMPIRE – A Sherlock Holmes MYSTERY

THE CASE OF THE WHITECHAPEL VAMPIRE (2002) is a Sherlock Holmes mystery produced by The Hallmark Channel and is the last of four Holmes films done by them. The producer was Irene Litinsky. It was directed by Rodney Gibbons who also wrote the screenplay. The film starred Matt Frewer, Kenneth Welsh, Cary Lawrence, and Tom Rack. 

Cast

MATT FREWER AS SHERLOCK HOLMES

KENNETH WELSH AS DR. WATSON

SHAWN LAWRENCE AS BROTHER MARSTOKE

NEVILLE EDWARDS AS DOCTOR CHAGAS

CARY LAWRENCE AS SISTER HELEN

ISABEL DOS SANTOS AS SIGNORA DE LA ROSA

MICHAEL PERRON AS INSPECTOR ATTLEY JONES

TOM RACK AS BROTHER ABEL

  • Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate a series of deaths that has the locals believing in vampires. 
  • The investigation causes a debate between him and Doctor Watson over the existence of the supernatural. 
  • During the course of the investigation, they meet the psychic Madame Karasky who tells Holmes he will be saved by the church. 
  • A short time later the “vampire” pushes Homes in front of a moving carriage and he is saved by a passing pedestrian – but loses his pipe in the process.
  • I’m not going to give away the ending of a mystery. Suffice it to say that because the vampire is left-handed, has a metallic smell, uses a gardener’s tool, and is as nutty as a fruitcake all this leads Holmes to capturing the killer. 
  • The movie ends with Mrs. Hudson returning Holmes’ pipe to him. The pedestrian that saved his life dropped it off. His name was Reginald Church. 

Matthew George Frewer is an American/Canadian actor and favorite of geeks all around the world. He is most famous for playing the iconic MAX HEADROOM in a 1985 TV movie and 1987 TV series. In films he appeared in HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS (1989), LAWNMOWER MAN 2: BEYOND CYBERSPACE(1996), four Sherlock Holmes films listed below (2000-2002), DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004), WATCHMEN(2009) 50/50 (2011), and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (2014). On TV he appeared on DOCTOR DOCTOR (1989-1991), SHAKY GROUND (1992-1993), PSI FACTOR: CHRONICLES OF THE PARANORMAL (1997-1999), EUREKA (2006-2012), and ORPHAN BLACK (2013-2017). Recently he has done THE BFG (2016), ALTERED CARBON (2018), and FEAR THE WALKING DEAD (2019). For me to call him a fan favorite is an understatement. He belongs in the geek hall of fame. 

  • In this movie Doctor Chagas lives at 4 Renfield Place, Whitechapel. In the novel DRACULA (1897) by Bram Stoker, Renfield is an insect-eating inmate at an insane asylum. 
  • Brother Marstoke informs Holmes that Brother John was murdered in an alley across from 128 Demeter Street. The Demeter was the name of the ship that brought Dracula to England from Transylvania. Somebody did their homework. 
  • The list of Sherlock Holmes movies made by Hallmark and starring Matt Frewer:

a. THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (2000)

b. THE SIGN OF FOUR (2001)

c. THE ROYAL SCANDAL (2001)

d. THE CASE OF THE WHITECHAPEL VAMPIRE (2002)

Dislikes

  • The acting in this film is somewhat patchy and amateurish. This is not the case with the leads fortunately but in the case of the supporting cast there were times where I felt I was watching fan fiction instead of a professionally made movie. I have yet to see the other four Holmes movies made by Hallmark. I’m hoping this is not the case with all of them. 
  • There are a series of events that took place in another country in the past that is alluded to but never shown. It would have been better for them to have shown it to use in flashback rather than simply talk about it. First rule of film – don’t talk show!

Likes

  • Kenneth Welsh is a familiar face to me having seen him on such TV shows as SMALLVILLE, STARGATE ATLANTIS, and STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. He played an excellent Doctor Watson. Too often Watson is played as a buffoon such as Nigel Bruce in the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies. I hate that! Watson is not an idiot. He is an accomplished medical man and war veteran. He simply pales in comparison when compared with the genius that is Holmes. Almost as often Watson is portrayed as too quiet, too reserved, as if to allow Holmes to stand out by keeping Watson in the background. I’m happy to say Kenneth Welsh’s Watson is neither of these. He is competent and a strong enough character to hold his own against Holmes. Especially important in a film like this where there is a debate between Watson and Holmes over the supernatural. I look forward to seeing Welsh play Watson in the other Hallmark films. 
  • I knew that Matt Frewer had played Sherlock Holmes in an adaptation of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES but had never seen the movie. In one of the Sherlock Holmes forums I used to participate in they spoke very poorly of Frewer’s Holmes. The talk was about favorite actors to portray Holmes and Frewer was eliminated from the discussion. Everybody was forbidden to even bring up his name. Therefore, you can understand why it was with trepidation that upon discovering this movie on YouTube I chose to watch it. I received two very pleasant surprises. First, I do not understand what the objection is over Frewer’s Sherlock Holmes. I think it was surprisingly wonderful. He plays a somewhat quirky Holmes but every part he plays he brings quirkiness. It is his style, and he is good at it and it works for him. When Roger Moore played Holmes in SHERLOCK HOLMES IN NEW YORK(1976) his Holmes was different reflecting his different acting style. When Richard Roxburgh played Holmes in THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (2002) his Holmes was very different. Different is not necessarily bad. It isn’t necessarily good either but it is not inherently bad. Second surprise – Matt Frewer played Holmes four times not just once. Having enjoyed this film I am now looking forward to seeing the others and they are all available on YouTube. 
  • It is a somewhat complicated plot with a series of events that took place in the past in Guyana. This in itself is not bad. This is a plot device often used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Holmes stories. The complication requires concentration and I am sorry but if you’re one of those who watches a movie while on their cell phone, or while balancing their check book, or doing their toe nails, you’re going to have to put all that down and pay attention. Don’t worry this movie is worth it. 
  • It has vampires! I love vampires and I love vampire movies. I love Sherlock Holmes and I love Sherlock Holmes movies. I got a combination of the two in this movie. I am like a kid in a candy shop. 

Discovering this movie on YouTube was a pleasant surprise for me. I was looking for something to watch and I’m always in the mood for Sherlock Holmes. My delight was multiplied when I found out there are more Holmes films with Matt Frewer and they are all on YouTube. Hooray! 

If you’re a diehard Sherlock Holmes fan, like me, but prefer a more old-fashioned Holmes ala Basil Rathbone or Ian Richardson then you might not like this movie. However, if having Holmes be a tad off-beat, like Benedict Cumberbatch or Robert Downey Jr., doesn’t bother you then check out this movie. In any event the atmosphere, plot, and Kenneth Welsh are worth the viewing anyway. 

I recommend this film for Sherlock Holmes fans, for mystery fans, and for all those who like a good period piece – especially one set in Victorian London. I just love me them hansom cabs.

It is with great pleasure that I give this movie four gray geeks on our revolving rating scale. 

I’m afraid it is time for me to say goodnight. The Sandman is beating me to death. I’m always happy for the time we get to spend together and I’m sad when we have to part. But it is always so long and never goodbye because we’ll be back together soon, I promise. Until then dream big dreams they are the only ones worth having. 

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