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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reel Bad Cinema: Yor, The Hunter From the Future (1983) review


Reb Brown (Yor), Corinne Clery (KaLa), Alan Collins/Luciano Pigozzi (Pak), John Steiner (Overlord)

Directed by Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony Dawson)

Yor, a warrior caveman in a land of dinosaurs attempts to learn about his past in relation to a medallion he has had since childhood. On his journey, Yor battles prehistoric creatures, ape men and a futuristic society of robots led by the evil Overlord.

Famed fantasy and action director Margheriti took on this hysterical prehistoric-fantasy-sci fi adventure that cross pollinates ONE MILLION YEARS BC with STAR WARS. An Italian-Turkish turkey, this (kind of) ambitious co-production was based on a novel(!) and was initially shot as a miniseries for Italian television. It was later recut to accommodate a theatrical release. Possibly on a high with their impending release of KRULL (1983) in addition to maintaining a foothold in the fantasy film market, Columbia picked this up for US distribution.

Margheriti was an accomplished director of action and fantasy movies having dabbled in various genres including peplums (GIANTS OF ROME), horror (CASTLE OF BLOOD), action (CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, THE LAST HUNTER) and movies like YOR. The director was like a big kid who loved fantastic cinema and obviously enjoyed his work immensely. He often did the special effects in his movies as well as movies for other directors such as Sergio Leone (on DUCK, YOU SUCKER! in 1970). Margheriti and his son, Eduardo did the "special" effects for this one, too.

However, YOR is one of the most ridiculous movies I've ever seen. I first caught it on HBO one morning back in the mid 1980's at the babysitters house. I remember seeing the first five minutes before the sitter switched it over to her usual game show grind. I did manage to see it later in the week, though. Even then (I think I was around 9 or 10) YOR left little impression on me; nothing like CONAN, BEASTMASTER or THE SWORD & THE SORCERER(1982). About the closest film I can compare with YOR would be the far more cheap and gaudy, ATOR, THE BLADE MASTER (1984; ATOR, THE INVINCIBLE 2), or under its more familiar MST3K title, CAVE DWELLERS.

Yor goes from one adventure to the next accumulating clues as to his past. He meets a blonde woman named Moa who is the keeper of a bunch of people trapped in solid ice. Why ice is inside a cave surrounded by waterfalls is never explained. Anyway, this woman has a medallion like Yor's (Yor's as in the character, not you, well you know what I mean; bad joke) and he discovers they come from the same tribe. This doesn't sit well with KaLa and leads to a cat fight between the two beauties. Ultimately, Moa is killed by the return of the Ape men which no doubt relieves KaLa to no end, but she plays it off well.

John Steiner hams it up as The Overlord

They then make it to a village by the sea where an object resembling a headlight with a handle attached is found. The village is destroyed by laser blasts from an unknown location, so Yor and company take a boat to a mysterious island. This is where the film takes a turn into STAR WARS territory...well, TURKISH STAR WARS would be more correct. Yor discovers his real name is Gallahad(?), the son of a man named Asgard(??). He meets John Steiner who states in a dubbed and overbearing Darth Vaderish voice that he is "....the Overlord. The ruler of my people and yours."

Then we find out that a nuclear holocaust wiped out most of mankind leaving a handful of society's remnants and apparently starting the human race over again. There's no explanation given as to why there are cavemen and dinosaurs. The Overlord states he wants to replace all barbarians with his rickety robots. This leads to a mediocre laser battle (complete with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA sound effects) in the requisite empty factory (found in most post apocalyptic movies) where Yor and his friends escape in a space ship.

Columbia released the movie to a little over 1,400 theaters where it made 2.8 million in its rather quiet 7 days of theatrical play. YOR was unable to dominate cinema goers like so many dinosaurs and plastic robots seen throughout the films 88 minute running time. It later found a brief home on cable TV and a much wider notice on VHS.

Yor saves the day with his Pterodactyl glider

The movie has a handful of choice scenes of unintended hilarity. One of which mirrors a similar scene in the aforementioned ATOR, THE BLADE MASTER (1984). In that film, Ator (played by Miles O'Keefe) makes a modern style hang glider to get inside a modern style castle in what is supposed to be a barbarian movie. In YOR, it's only slightly less anachronistic in reference to the time period. After killing a pterodactyl, Yor rips away the creatures wings and uses them like a hang glider to get inside a cave to save one of his women, KaLa.

Just turn around, damn it!

Another is a 'hall of mirrors' sequence which takes place in a room surrounded with glass. For whatever reason, Yor and KaLa have the hardest time finding each other in this small room in a scene that seems to go on forever.

The aborted YOR action figure toy line put in a couple of appearances in the movie

Another scene that would surely make Barnum & Bailey squirm with jealousy, has Yor set a charge to blow up a reactor. He can't get back across so Pak swings over on a cable. Flipping upside down in mid-swing, he grasps Yor and both swing back to safety. What makes this scene funny is that if you slow the film down, you can see it's just two action figures on a string(!)

Probably the single funniest aspect of the whole thing is the totally bonkers theme song designed for the movie. Within the opening few seconds the blaring screeches of 'Yor's World' pounds your ear drums with its repetitive insipidness. There were a number of other "songs" composed for the film, but were seemingly omitted. John Scott contributed music for the US version of the film. Scott, who did amazing scores for such films as THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) and GREYSTOKE (1984) contributed to a handful of fantasy and exploitation movie scores in addition to his work on YOR (1983). The original music is the work of Maurizio and Guido De Angelis, although they are credited as "additional music by" in the opening credits. It's pretty easy to distinguish Scott's cues from the De Angelis brothers work.

Reb Brown is in the lead as Yor. Although energetic in action scenes, he's never been much of an actor. He possessed an imposing look about him and Italian producers were obviously impressed by him as he made a career out of starring in awful European action filler. Prior to all this, you've probably seen him in various popular television programs in the 1970's. He played a bully who comes to a bad end in the horror film SSSSSSS (1973) and also took the lead as Captain America in two television movies of the same name.

Later on, he got roles in movies that glaringly ripped off popular American action productions. STRIKE COMMANDO (1987) from Bruno Mattei was a carbon copy of the already ridiculous FIRST BLOOD 2 (1985). Mattei struck again with Brown in the lead of an incredibly bad PREDATOR clone entitled ROBOWAR (1989). Very entertaining, but these films will never be mistaken for good movies.

Corinne Clery (left) and Luciano Pigozzi/Alan Collins (right)

Rounding out the cast, the sensual Corinne Clery looks like she's in a daze much of the time. John Steiner chews up what few scenes he is featured in and Luciano Pigozzi makes the best of it in his role as Pak. He does look to be enjoying himself firing a ray gun during the big finale. Clery will be most familiar to fans as the Bond girl who comes to a bad end in MOONRAKER (1979) at the hands of Drax and his hungry dogs.

Additional gratuitous shot of Corrine Clery

She also stayed unclothed a good portion of the time in HITCHHIKE (1977) with David Hess and Franco Nero. Even with her skimpy attire in YOR, her top threatens to fall down at any moment, but fails to do so, so don't get your hopes up, people! Pigozzi (Alan Collins) has been in dozens of genre movies in supporting roles such as BARON BLOOD (1972) where he has a memorable death scene. Steiner is one of the most recognizable faces in Eurocinema. One of his earliest roles was as the sympathetic doctor in the excellent political western, TEPEPA (1968).

The oversized Triceratops looks like a big balloon. The Yor action figure with the kung fu grip puts in the first of two cameo appearances

The dinosaur effects are of the variety found in the Kevin Conner directed quartet of fantasy films produced the decade prior; three of which were for Amicus and the last for Columbia--LAND THAT TIME FORGOT(1975), AT THE EARTH'S CORE(1976), PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT(1977) and WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS(1978). The second half of the film turns into a futuristic style movie once Yor and company reach an island ruled over by the Overlord. The usual footage of an abandoned factory standing in for a post apocalyptic setting is trotted out again replete with laser guns and robots. This portion of the film borrows the ending of PLANET OF THE APES (1968), but offers hope in the form of a loopy closing scene narration.

The laser guns in "Yor's World" can't even fire in a straight line

YOR (1983) is a movie whose storyline holds a lot of promise and potential, but delivers goofy cheap thrills and lots of laughs instead. For some, this movie will hold little to no interest whatsoever. For me, YOR is mostly a bore and a chore to sit through even by bad movie standards, although it has a few chuckle worthy moments. Most trash cinema lovers should have fun with it. It wasn't intended as a comedy, but damn, if it didn't turn out that way. If seeing a caveman armed with a laser rifle is your idea of fun, than this movie is definitely for you.

The source of this review is a DVD-R I made from a Turner Classic Movies(!!!) widescreen broadcast about two years ago. I believe there is a German DVD, but I don't know if there are English options.


Fazeo said...

Excellent review!

Yor is one of the films I want to see on a quality R1 DVD release the most(I haven't seen it in decades).

With Starcrash coming out on DVD and Bluray later this year, it is looking better for some of my favorite B films getting quality DVD releases.

Now if only The Green Slime would get a DVD release.

Unknown said...

I also remember catching this on HBO as a kid. I was fond of the movie, but do remember thinking it was kind of bonkers. I'm sure if I was to watch YOR as an adult I wouldn't find it so fascinating, but your review does make me want to check it out again.

Nigel M said...

Not seen this one and not really in any hurry to- I had a question in my mind while reading the review and that got answered in the last sentence- I think you called it a bore. So obviously no Turkish Star Wars then cos that was pretty shit but I laughed til I hurt from start to finish with that one.

I think I will stick with Margheriti's jungle war films for now then- cos no one could call those boring.

venoms5 said...

@ Fazeo: I'm curious to see STARCRASH again, myself. I'm a bit amazed it will get a Bluray release, though. GREEN SLIME is out in Japan in English if I remember right. Although I hear it might be slightly shorter than the US release. I did hear some rumbling that it was possibly coming to DVD in the near future, so fingers crossed on that one! My dad used to have the 45 for that theme song. Wish it was still around.

@ Rev: It's worth seeing again for old times sake and that's about the best recommendation I can give. I'm not sure if I could handle seeing the full on 4 hour plus version.

@ Nigel: I meant that the film production wise was more akin to TURKISH STAR WARS than one of its obvious inspirations, the US STAR WARS. I might should have worded that differently.

Still, YOR does have a lot of fans, though. You will laugh while watching it, too, but probably not as much as TSW. If you are a Margheriti fan, you will probably want to check it out at some point, at least once.

Have you seen Margheriti's star studded TREASURE ISLAND IN OUTER SPACE? It's also a series chopped down to about 135 minutes. David Warbeck, Anthony Quinn, John Morghen, Bobby Rhodes, etc...I recently interviewed Morghen through email and I didn't realize I had this movie till I had already submitted all my questions!

THE LAST HUNTER is all kinds of awesome! I intended to buy COMMANDO LEOPARD, but xploited sold all their copies before I could purchase one. Lenzi's war pictures have some value to them, imo. He really pushed what budget he was given for them.

Nigel M said...

Not seen treasure island in space (and that really sounds like a film I would hate!!!) I like pirates but not so much a fan of space :)

Commando Leopard I absolutely adore- that is wall to wall action and if I remember correctly they blow up some pretty cool miniatures too.

Nigel M said...

ooo and I could have worded my comment a bit differently too- it was meant to have the intonation of a question for a start (so note to self punctuate) and I was sort of asking if it was funny like turkish star wars is rather than structure.which you answered anyway- not as funny, which is a shame because I am not one for laughing at film makers efforts but during turkish star wars I was doubled up laughing so much I ached. Really did!!! Mostly for the balls they had in ripping of soundtracks from all over and the whole manic approach to the action- I didnt have a subtitle track so I didnt really have a clue what was going on but watching some dude weilding a cardboard sword or prancing around with a golden baseball glove was just the funniest shit I have seen in years. Man, I think I gotta watch that film again.

venoms5 said...

I'll have to see if I can still find it, then. I mainly wanted it because Kinski was in it. IMO, he's one of the great bizarre attractions in film and a favorite of mine. His book is totally insane!

venoms5 said...

No, it's not as funny as Turkish SW in that sort of way, Nigel. Even though it's a Turkish co-pro, it doesn't have that type of flavor. YOR is just plain bad. The theme song is hilarious, though. The sections of Scott's score are rather bombastic and would seem better suited to a much bigger movie. They're easy to pick out.

Certain parts of it are rather funny, but it's more because it's simply a bad movie. Margheriti seems to have enjoyed making it, but if you're into Italian post apocalyptic flicks, then by all means, this should be on your list at some point. I don't think you'd be pissing yourself laughing so much as just being pissed for having seen it, lol.

ActionJon said...

"hysterical prehistoric-fantasy-sci"

Loved the quote, and you're right, it's so bad it's funny.

venoms5 said...

Hey, Jon. Thanks for stopping by. Very nice site you have there!

Yes, YOR is so bad it's funny. I had thought of adding it to the 'So Bad It's Painfully Funny' section of the site here, but it isn't quite that "good".

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