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L'Invincibile Cavaliere Mascherato

Terror of the Black Mask
L'Invincible Cavalier Masqué / Robin Hood in der Stadt des Todes / The Invincible Masked Rider / Terrore di Masque di Indio

Italy/France 1963
produced by
Fortunato Misiano for Romana Film, Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC)
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Pierre Brice, Daniele Vargas, Hélène Chanel, Massimo Serato, Gisella Arden, Aldo Bufi Landi, Carlo Latimer, Nerio Bernardi, Romano Ghini, Tullio Altamura, Salvatore Campochiaro, Guido Celano, Gino Marturano, Eleonora Morana, Nello Pazzafini, Gino Soldi, Sina Relli, Ignazio Balsamo, Clara Bindi, Piero Pastore, Attilio Torelli, Amedeo Trilli
written by Gino De Santis, Umberto Lenzi, Guido Malatesta, Luciano Martino, music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Spain, I don't know when (but at a time when rapiers were still the preferred offensive weapons): Don Luis (Daniele Vargas) has just killed Don Gomez (Nerio Bernardi), assumed his role as gouvernor of some region on the Portoguese border or other, and taken his naive daughter Carmencita (Hélène Chanel), who knows nothing of his involvement in her father's death, under his wing. And he has plans to get his hands on her father's vast fortune as well: he plans to marry her to his own stepson Don Diego, whom he hasn't seen in quite some years. When Don Diego arrives though (in the form of Perre Brice) he proves to be a major disappointment: He's a vain and cowardly weakling who seems to be almost effeminate and not especially smart in any way.

But at the moment that's the least of Don Luis' problems, much worse is that the bulbonic plague is roaming the village below his castle, and the populace starts to revolt - to which Don Luis knows only one answer: to round up the wives of those leading the revolt to lock them up inside the castle and regularly have them raped by his men at parties. It's at occasions like these that Carmencita begins to see the true Don Luis.

Still, Don Luis has yet another problem: The Masked Rider, a Zorro-like avenger who pays regular visits to his castle to right a few wrongs, kill a few of Don Luis' men and woo Carmencita - who does know as little about his true identity as anybody else, she only knows she loves only him and not that weakling Don Diego.

Ultimately, the time of the plague is over, and to get on good terms with his villagers again, Don Luis hands out free food to them and invites them all to a masque to his castle - and rather unexpectedly, the Black Mask shows up at the masque as well, challenges Don Luis to a duel, and reveals himself to be (not really surprisingly) Don Diego the weakling. Guess who wins the duel and which baddie gets his just desserts in the end.

 

Quite obviously, the Masked Rider is a (hardly disguised) version of the popular Zorro-character, but this tiem around, a few horror elements and the plague are thrown into the mix.

And you know what ? For a period piece with little to no regard for actual history, Terror of the Black Mask isn't bad at all, a well paced and at times even atmospheric formula film that doesn't try to achieve more than its limited budget allows and that manages to entertain (on a very light-weight level) throughout. And Pierre Brice, normally confined to heroic characters, is extremely entertaining as the effeminate weakling (even if by definition he turns out to be a heroic character in the end all the same.

Worth a look at least.

 

For some incomprehensible reason, this film was marketed as a Robin Hood-picture in German language countries.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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