The Masked Man Against the Pirates (1964)

Who was that masked man? Supposedly, he was the scourge of the pirates who were attacking Spanish galleons, stealing their gold, killing their men, and selling their sexy broads into slavery back in the 17th Century.

We know he’s totally feared because the slaver trying to buy some women comments about all the stories of Masked Man and his good guy antics. This, despite all the evidence to this point in The Masked Man Against the Pirates having been completely to the contrary. That is unless you consider a dude whacking a guy in the back of the head with a log and stealing a kiss from a captured princess a one man Spanish Armada.

But that’s precisely the genius that is Masked Man! Despite doing virtually nothing for most of the movie, Masked Man’s legend is so awesome that the pirates also do almost nothing, too!

And like scary heroes such as Batman, one look at his costume will tell you that Masked Man is decked out in such a fashion as to strike fear into the hearts of mutinous miscreants everywhere. When he’s standing around rocking his yellow tights, green panties and ski mask, you can damn sure bet that any pirate in sight will run screaming for safer waters, no doubt petrified that a transvestite rapist is on his tail!

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Masked Man knows though that fighting boatloads of bad ass buccaneers eventually always becomes a numbers game and also that any movie with one sassily-dressed super do-gooder would be twice the film if there was another costumed geek running around. So it is that Masked Man teams up with…Masked Man!

Yes! Against all odds, Masked Man somehow has the vision (and seamstress) to have another costume exactly like his own made that he can hand out to another guy with the guts enough to strut around looking like he had been playing around in his mom’s lingerie drawer and then had a sudden urge to rob a liquor store!

While the prospect of a Masked Man tag team is enough to put an unsightly stain in all Italian pirate movie fans’ breeches, director Vertunnio De Angelis realizes that we’ll appreciate it all the more if he puts it off as long as possible. And he knows that we’ll really, really appreciate it if he puts it off in favor of a whole lot of talk!

For instance, once the final battle is joined and each Masked Man is either fighting pirates or chasing them through the countryside, you’ll think back to the eternity we spent watching guys with names like Ruiz, Garcia, and Suarez sitting around a table talking about selling prisoners or hanging them and realize how lucky you are to be watching Garcia chucking rocks down a hill at Masked Man!

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The endless dining table chatter about all that though is itself a welcome relief from something in the film that’s even more tortuous. Somewhere there is a place for the comic relief monk who is a reformed pirate who stutters and is constantly upbraided for his less than Christian attitude by his tight ass superior. The Masked Man Against the Pirates is obviously not that place.

Hell, any knob who’s just been press ganged into the navy could tell you that! The movie’s title itself should be a dead giveaway! There’s nothing in there about an unfunny, borderline offensive religious figure! (He wouldn’t have been nearly so offensive if his stuttering would have actually been funny!)

The bare bones story is an unremarkable variation of a guy going undercover with the pirates to bring them down from the inside. Two Italian film legends, George Hilton and Tony Kendall, appear as the blustering pirate captain and the clean cut second in command, respectively.

Hilton doesn’t bring anything special to his role, content to let his bushy beard and growling voice do the work in providing us with a forgettably stereotypical pirate captain.

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Kendall, who went on to fame in Kommissar X films such as Kill, Panther Kill!, is so well scrubbed and bland that the pirates must have been experiencing some sort of nutritional deficiency that prevented them for seeing the he was obviously Masked Man.

His lame attempts to woo the princess that he claimed as his share of the pirate booty were matched in their tediousness only by the stuttering monk and culminated in an entirely pointless “wedding” on the pirate ship.

Minimal action (there’s a pirate attack to open the film and the final battle to conclude it with tons of nothing in between) that was at best indifferently staged, combine with a less than zero budget (if you think the pirate hats are terribly cheesy, wait until you see the wimpy-looking pirate flag that’s hoisted up) and a pair of laughably costumed goons to scuttle this obscure Italian swashbuckler from an even more obscure director.

How bad was it? I was actually glad when the crabby pirates and jabbering monks shut up so a bare-bellied wench could began performing the dance scene required of all Italian adventure films!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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