Pirates are definitely not what you might expect from Hammer studios – the ultimate horror movie factory in the 50’s to the 70’s; In this unique pirate movie, that takes place entirely on land, a young man named Jonathan is exiled from his village to a nearby penal colony because he had sex with a married woman. The colony is then invaded by a bunch of semi-retarded pirates led by an evil, black-clad Christopher Lee (“If I kill, it is to achieve a purpose, not for the sake of killing”) who forces Jonathan to lead them to his village to steal an idol of gold that’s rumored to be hidden there.
Unlike most pirate movies, all the action takes place on land. There are no shark infested waters, no raising the sails, no walking the plank. But this swashbuckler is so fanfrickentastic in itself that it doesn’t need that stuff. Pirates of Blood River is an entertaining film with saber-stabbings, blindfold dueling, a woman being eaten by pirahnas (which is the reason why the river of the title is Blood) and not least one of the best casts Hammer ever assembled; Kerwin Mathews, Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee. This is one of Lee’s coolest roles, by the way; A mysterious greaseball called LaRoche, sporting an eye patch, an injured hand and a weird French accent. I would have loved to see a prequel with this awesome guy. Coming later this week: Part 2/2 of “Pirates of Hammer Films”.
Release year: 1962
Director: John Gilling
Starring: Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed, Kerwin Mathews