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May 10, 2011

Movie Review: Sexy Pirates (1998)

Joe D'Amato rarely loses with this viewer. Even with some of the more paltry offerings from the Italian genre hopper, I can find some silver lining. It could be a nice pair of boobs, Laura Gemser, the antics of Pedro The Horse, a gnarly cannibal eating a fetus - and depending on your taste, Mark Shannon's scrotum. Several years ago I discovered Joe thanks to the late-great writer, Chas. Balun. Balun wrote an excellent article in one of the earlier editions of Gorezone magazine that made me want to seek this director's films. First it was Anthropophagous, then Buio Omega (Buried Alive) and after that, I was in love. That brings me to Sexy Pirates (aka I Predatori delle Antille), directed under one of his several pseudonyms, David Hills. The title sounds perfect and the cover One 7 Movies uses is even more inviting. Could this be a lost D’ Amato classic or will it break this swashbuckling reviewer?

I went into Sexy Pirates thinking “hey, this movie may be dull, but at least it'll have some bare skin". Boy, was I an idiot. Any of the exploitive elements that made D'Amato's best features (Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, Ironmaster and Death Smiles at Murder) were nowhere to be found here. We start off with some brief bursts of violence when our lead charachter Lord Hamilton (Menyhert Dutombe) is abducted by some nasty pirates while sailing to Jamaica for a treaty with the French. Leaving behind his lovely wife, Lady Elena Hamilton (Anita Rinaldi) to wonder if she's is bound to be a widow. What follows are some surprisingly grandiose set-pieces. The abduction of Hamilton is actually not bad; it's accompanied by some neck slashings and sort of sets up what might be a sleazy little period piece.

The ships and costumes look pretty authentic as there seems to be an actual budget put forth for this film. The viewer is also treated to an occasionally impressive selection of shots, but, even with that solid cinematography we're nearly lulled to sleep by the action-less (and sex-less) story. It's called Sexy Pirates, right? Well, Sexy Pirates certainly lacks in the "Sexy" department which is so odd for a D'Amato feature. If you're expecting exploitation, watch any of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and you'll manage to get more than you will with Sexy Pirates. Did I say I love the cover?

The audio and video presentation is pretty lackluster. The film appears to be shot on 35mm and isn't from original elements, but a tape master. It's not a horrible tape master but hardly representative of some of One 7's excellent previous transfers (See, Sex and Black Magic).It almost feels like a TV film too. That's not a bad thing, just an observation but it could be the reasoning behind the toned down sex and violence. As for extra features, this disc is completely bare-bones.

I really like what One 7 is doing with releasing so much of the D’Amato library. There are a lot of unseen films from his career that may surprise as to their genius and some that are certainly not going to be gems. Sexy Pirates is really hard to even recommend to D’Amato and Euro-cult completists so it definitely falls into the latter category. Sadly, I'd much rather "swab the deck" than take in another viewing.

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