Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Batman/Sherlock Holmes crossover nobody needed

 Sherlock Holmes and Batman have crossed path more than a few times in comic books or idle Sherlockian chat. And of all those times, perhaps the worst crossover was the one that occurred . . . as many a bad idea does . . . in the mind of a sixties advertising executive.

Familiar with the movie A Study in Terror from 1965? 

If you watch the trailer for the movie, it comes off as straight horror.

"If you are a woman, you walk these streets at your peril . . ." it begins, and for the first minute of the trailer, it doesn't even mention Sherlock Holmes and just goes straight for pure fright. And even then, as the narrator goes "Sherlock Holmes, the original special agent, forerunner of today's thrillmakers" you have to wonder if he's referring to James Bond. But after that, back to frightening, shock music as the word "TERROR" fills the screen in blood red, followed by "PREPARE YOURSELF FOR SHOCKS!"

The last words you hear in the preview?

"You'll never see anything like it this side of Hell!"

(Quiet down, you Holmes and Watson haters!)

But that was the movie's trailer. Have you ever seen its poster?

Whoever was coming up with the advertising for the American release in August of 1966 went, "Hey, that new ABC show Batman is hot stuff with the kids! Let's make it like that!"

"Here comes the original caped crusader!" might have been enough. But noooooooo, they had to make absolutely certain you thought Sherlock Holmes was like Batman by adding a bunch of burst it sound effects, borrowed straight from what you saw twice a week when Batman and Robin punched out crime: "BIFF!" "POW!" "CRUNCH!" There's even an "AIEEEE!" next to a cleavage-leaning victim, which makes it really weird.

Because in 1966, TV's Batman was a campy, comedic goof-fest that the kids loved. And I was one of those kids. Did my parents take me to see A Study in Terror, and chance the coin-toss of whether I'd become Holmes or the Ripper as a result? No, they did not.

Truth be told, at this point, I can't exactly remember if I ever saw A Study in Terror. But I'm pretty sure it didn't have Holmes and Watson in a brawl with the Ripper's henchmen while comic book sound effect popped out with every punch and kick and peppy fighting music played. And I'm really certain that "Elementary, my dear Watson!" didn't pop out on the screen in a similar manner, as it does on the poster.

But somebody was high enough to come up with this poster in 1966, and somebody else (whom I can't help but picture chomping on a big half-smoked cigar) went, "Great! Run with that!"

To this day, I still wonder -- did somebody actually take their Batman-loving kids to this Victorian nightmare just because of this poster? And how did that turn out?

Perhaps I'll have to let my inner child watch a double feature of some Batman episodes followed by A Study in Terror and find out one of these days. 

1 comment:

  1. Love the poster - have it on my wall. Like the movie, as I recall - didn't see it in 65, though (9 yrs old)