THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER
(director/writer: John Gilling; screenwriters: John Hunter/Anthony Nelson Keys/story by Jimmy Sangster; cinematographer: Arthur Grant; editor: Eric Boyd-Perkins ; music: Gary Hughes; cast: Kerwin Mathews (Jonathon Standing), Glenn Corbett (Henry), Christopher Lee (Captain LaRoche), Andrew Keir (Jason Standing), Marla Landi (Bess Standing), Michael Ripper (Mack, a pirate), Peter Arne (Hench, a pirate), Oliver Reed (Brocaire, a pirate), Marie Devereux (Maggie Mason), Jack Stewart (Godfrey Mason); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anthony Nelson Keys; Columbia/Sony Pictures’ Choice Collection (Hammer Films); 1962-UK)
“Some interesting moments.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A rarely seen routine but rousing adventure story about pirates. It’s a pirate film that is land-locked. The films of John Gilling(“Fury at Smuggler’s Bay”/”Where the Bullets Fly”/”Murder Will Out”) usually fail to reach greatness, but like this film always have some interesting moments and are well-produced. Writers Gilling, Anthony Nelson Keys, and John Hunter base it on the story by Jimmy Sangster. Hammer films is the English studio that makes it as a change of pace from its usual horror films.
It’s set on the last days of the 17th century, on the Isle of Devon, in the Caribbean. Christopher Lee is an evil one-armed French pirate with an eye patch, who is clad in all-black. Kerwin Mathews lives on a Huguenot settlement, founded a 100 years ago by his grandfather, who fled from religious persecution back in France. When Kerwin is caught red-handed kissing the married young wife (Marie Devereux) of an abusive Huguenot alderman (Jack Stewart), the married woman flees but dies when attacked by a piranha. Kerwin is brought to trial and is sentenced by the settlement’s patriarch, his stern father (Andrew Keir), to a fifteen year jail term on the island’s cruel penal colony.
Kerwin escapes from the torturous penal colony, only to be captured in a nearby swamp by the greedy ruthless pirate Christopher Lee, who believes gold is hidden in Kerwin’s nearby colony and forces his prisoner to take them to his colony. At the settlement, no one discloses where or if there is a treasure, even at the risk of death threats. What ensues is a battle between the pirates and the settlers, with Kerwin’s step-sister (Marla Landi) and her decent boyfriend (Glenn Corbett), Kerwin’s best friend, escaping from the clutches of the pirates. Corbett, soon joined by Kerwin, organizes guerrilla raids on the pirates as they locate the treasure. It’s a statue in gold of the founder, something only Kerwin’s father knew about. The pirates are bickering amongst themselves carrying the heavy statue through the jungle to get it on a raft to put it aboard their ship, but are ambushed.
There are many people killed before the valuable gold statue is cut loose from the raft by Kerwin’s distraught father and it sinks going downstream on the bloody river.
REVIEWED ON 9/17/2015 GRADE: B