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Hammer’s THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER starring CHRISTOPHER LEE, KERWIN MATTHEWS, PETER ARNE, OLIVER REED and MICHAEL RIPPER

Hammer is known mostly for their horror films, of course, but over the course of the years, they did many other kinds of movies, including noir and action-adventure films, such as THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER.
There’s no “crime” involved in pirate films, per se, except of course, piracy is a crime, and a rather glamorous one at that, movie style. Another small crime of sorts is that this is a pirate film without any boats in it, except stock footage at the beginning and the end, and hardly any water.
Blame this on small, tight budgets that the production people at Hammer had to work under, but worked wonders, they did. There are basically only four sets: the exterior of the tropical village on an island where a group of 17th century Huguenots have settled, fleeing religious persecution; the interior of their primary meeting place; a small jungle surrounding the compound, complete with one river leading to the sea; and a gravel pit doing double duty as a site for a penal colony.
And in spite of financial considerations, the movie is beautifully photographed in color, and populated as if with a cast of thousands, although in reality there may have been perhaps no more than 40 or 50 involved.
Where this island actually is is not explicitly stated, although you (the viewer) are supposed to believe that it is somewhere in the Caribbean and one that has not been discovered by anyone else. Let me get back to the river, though, for a minute. Whenever it’s convenient for plot line purposes, the river is filled with hungry, ferocious piranha fish. Cool.
On to the story line: If there’s a moral to this tale, it’s that groups fleeing religious persecution quickly revert to the tactics of their enemies, and quickly become religious zealots themselves. Jonathon Standing (Kerwin Matthews of SINBAD fame) is the son of one of the village’s board of selectmen, but that does him no good when he’s convicted of adultery and sentenced to hard labor at the aforementioned penal colony. He eventually escapes, only to land in the hands of Captain LaRoche (Christopher Lee) and his men.
Another moral of the story: Don’t make deals with pirates. They don’t keep their end of the bargain. Never have, never will. I’ve known that ever since I was eight years old. Too bad that Jonathan Standing doesn’t.
I do want to mention one highlight of the film — a blindfolded swordfight to the death between two of the pirates, played by Peter Arne and Oliver Reed. Whether choreographed or ad lib, it’s completely over the top, and worth the price of admission right then and there.
I’d also like to point out a job well done by Michael Ripper, who plays a henchman named Hench (a nice touch). Ripper usually played bartenders, innkeepers, coachmen and grave robbers in Hammer films. This time it was a much larger part, worthy of his talents, and more — he looks as though he’s enjoying himself immensely.

MOVIES ARE ON ARCHIVAL QUALITY TAIYO YUDEN OR VERBATIM ***All DVDs are MOD (made on demand) using archival quality DVD-Rs, with full color inkjet art on the discs and full DVD jacket art, in a standard DVD box. All DVDs are also in protective sleeves for the best protection of your new DVD as possible. Every DVD is guaranteed against defects. Thank you!*** and here is the basic disc info: MOVIES ARE ON ARCHIVAL QUALITY TAIYO YUDEN OR VERBATIM All DVDs are MOD (made on demand) using archival quality DVD-Rs, with full color inkjet art on the discs and full DVD jacket art, in a standard DVD box. All DVDs are also in protective sleeves for the best protection of your new DVD as possible. Every DVD is guaranteed against defects. Thank you! MEDIA, LABELED WITH FULL COLOR ART. PICTURE AND SOUND ARE ALWAYS 10 OUT OF 10, UNLESS NOTED, AND ARE COMPARABLE TO, OR BETTER THAN ANY COMMERCIALLY PRODUCED DISC. THEY ARE HOUSED WITH FULL-COLOR BOX ART IN STANDARD DVD CASES.