The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964)

Genres - Adventure, Historical Film  |   Release Date - May 1, 1964 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Hammer Films' follow up to the passable Pirates Of Blood River is a superior work of pulp fiction outing in every respect. Jimmy Sangster's script piles on the action and cliff-hangers while building an effective tale of how a village deals with a pirate invasion. It's worth noting that Sangster provides heroes and villains on both sides of the equation, with town "leaders" who mislead the people on the village side and a serious military man who is disgusted by the treachery of his fellow crewmen on the pirate side. As a result, the story has a unexpected dramatic edge that makes it all the more satisfying. There are also strong performances throughout: as one might expect, Christopher Lee hams it up with style as the dastardly pirate leader but there is also compelling work from John Cairney as an angry, handicapped villager who leads the revolt and Barry Warren as the betrayed Spanish soldier who becomes a secret ally to the villagers. Finally, and most importantly, Don Sharp's direction is taut and stylish. His effective work keeps the tension simmering nicely and he crafts several rousing action scenes along the way, including a great pirate-ship cannonball battle at the beginning and a rousing ship-set finale. In short, The Devil-Ship Pirates is one of Hammer's best non-horror outings and well worth the time for fans of old-fashioned action fare.