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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Pirates of Blood River [Blu-ray]


(John Gilling, 1962)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Hammer Film Production

Video: Twilight Time



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:58.254   

Disc Size: 25,603,566,734 bytes

Feature Size: 25,043,103,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: October, 2017



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2021 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2021 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2002 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2002 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1996 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1996 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), None



• Audio Commentary with Writer Jimmy Sangster, Art Director Don Mingaye, and Film Historian Marcus Hearn

Trailer (2:03)

Isolated Music Track

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

Limited to 3,000 Copies!





Description: Hammer Studios goes quasi-historical with The Pirates of Blood River (1962), with Kerwin Mathews starring as a Huguenot outcast taken up by a bloody band of pirates led by the elegant Frenchman, Captain LaRoche, incarnated by the great Christopher Lee. Oliver Reed, Glenn Corbett, Michael Ripper, and Peter Arne co-star; other Hammer regulars include director John Gilling and cinematographer Arthur Grant.



The Film:

In a Caribbean village populated by religious refugees, Jonathon Standing (Kerwin Mathews) gets caught in an affair with the wife of a prominent local. Standing is sent to a nearby penal colony, but he is eventually freed by pirates commanded by LaRoche (Christopher Lee). The pirates then force Standing to lead them to his settlement, where LaRoche and his men battle the villagers and search for treasure. And when the pirates learn that there's gold on the island, things really get cutthroat.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

American Kerwin Mathews — Sinbad in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad — stars as fiery young Jonathon Standing, the member of a Huguenots settlement on a remote island somewhere that I don’t think is ever clearly defined. The Huguenots were basically the early Protestants, frequently at odds with Catholic kings and churches and prone to being persecuted and going to war with dominant Catholics throughout the 1500s, well into the 1600s. The island settlement, then, is one of relative secrecy, and it is lorded over by a council of religious elders who dole out law based on strict Protestant interpretations of the The Bible. This apparently worked well for many years, but by the time Jonathon Standing comes around to make out with buxom Hammer glamour regular Marie Devareaux, the council has become largely corrupt, creating tension throughout the townsfolk, who feel that the elders have given in to petty power obsessions and greed rather than dictating the word of God. Jonathan’s own father is the head of the council, but even if some vestige of an honest and noble man still exists within old Jason Standing (Andrew Kier, actually the same age as Kerwin Mathews), he is too weak-willed against the other members of the council for it to matter. In fact, when Jonathan himself violates the rules of the town by comforting the abused wife of one of the council members, Jason condemns the popular young man to hard labor in the colony’s prison — a virtual death sentence, we learn. The conviction of Jonathan only serves to make the crowds angrier, but like most angry crowds, there is much muttering beneath the breath and complaining, but no one is quite ready yet to take up the torches and pitchforks.

Excerpt from Teleport-City located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Hammer Studio pirate film The Pirates of Blood River comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray in a single-layered, 1080P transfer with their usual high bitrate. It was also on DVD in the Icons of Adventure Collection, reviewed HERE. The visuals are strong in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio with rich colors and plenty of depth. No artifacts and some minor gloss/waxiness. The image is clean without speckles or marks. This Blu-ray gives a crisp, bright presentation - far in advance of SD. Very pleasing!
























Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 2021 kbps (24-bit) sounds clean with a few richer moments in pushing the film's aggressive requirements in the form of gunfire, tree-felling and fist-fight/wrestling. The score is credited to Gary Hughes (The Devil-Ship Pirates) who did a few swashbucklers. It sounds solid in the lossless adding to the film's adventure traits and is also partially available in an isolated score track. There are optional English subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.



Extras :

Twilight Time include a good, if a bit scattered, older audio commentary (from 2008) with writer Jimmy Sangster, art director Don Mingaye, moderated by film historian Marcus Hearn. It's quite revealing and I really enjoyed the discussion. There is also a trailer, Twilight Time's usual isolated music track and the package has liner notes by Julie Kirgo.



The Pirates of Blood River is a Hammer Studios adventure and has Sinbad, Kerwin Matthews, Christopher Lee, Glenn Corbett (ToS's Zefram Cochrane) and, briefly, Hammer werewolf, Oliver Reed. What's not to love! The Twilight Time Blu-ray provides a 1080P a/v transfer for the film and includes a commentary. The film is extremely entertaining - probably more passive in terms of excessive violence and Hammer gals than fans of the genre might expect. But it has the charm with Lee and a less-explored genre. I loved it! 

Gary Tooze

October 27th, 2017


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