Knock-off movies are a dime a dozen, yet because, much like Turkish Spider-Man, I am a child-minded lunatic, I have a boundless capacity for this type of cinematic fare. It takes a particularly brave knock-off film to borrow from such seemingly disparate source material as 1980's "Flash Gordon," the "Star Wars" trilogy, and the Ringo Starr vehicle "Caveman," but if "Yor, the Hunter from the Future" had balls, they would be made of a resilient metal material, because it does precisely this. Yes, it's just as glorious as you suspect it might be. And everything in that gorgeous Druillet-illo'ed poster DOES happen in the story.
"Yor" has its fur-booted feet securely planted in the rich, loamy soil of early 80s fantasy filmmaking, most of which was intended for what we might now call the "Tween" audience. While it might turn off some viewers to know that there's no nudity and very little in the way of gore in this film, those viewers are robbing themselves of a truly zany movie-watching experience. Right from the credits, you know you're in for something special when you realize that this is an Italian-French-Turkish co-production that's directed by Antonio Margheriti, a man who brought us tasty nibbles like "The Virgin of Nuremberg" and "The Long Hair of Death" (but definitely NOT "Flesh for Frankenstein"--don't even go there; you clearly have never watched a Paul Morrissey film if you're in the "Margheriti directed FfF" camp). That's a formidable trash film pedigree right thar'! And then there's the not-so-small matter of the music that plays over the illustrious credits list. Seriously, I mean, Queen's theme song to "Flash Gordon" is great and all, but they've got nothing on the Eurotrash excellence of Oliver Onions' "Yor's World" (WARNING: it will haunt your dreams):
The film follows the suspiciously fair-haired and smooth-chested Yor on his quest to learn where he has come from, since the script keeps telling us how "different" he is from the other primitive people he encounters. Filmed in a variety of rocky, beige environs, the film depicts a barren world that's actually kinda densely populated, all things considered. Yor stumbles upon cave-people Pag and Ka-Laa and promptly rescues them from a dinosaurey doom, only to have to re-rescue them from a tribe of yet-more-primitive and decidedly-less-friendly cavemen who raid their celebratory feast. During the trio's time wandering the wasteland, they come across bandage-swathed cave-people, grass-skirted cave-people, yet more unfriendly cave-people and no less than THREE awesome, giant, puppet dinosaurs.
I know what you're thinking: "Tenebrous, there's a whole lotta 'Caveman' going on and exactly zero space opera so far--what's the deal?" Patience, lieblings! Because in the third act, junk gets sci-fi so quick your head will spin, making good on that "From the Future" epithet on the title. Reb Brown's wooden performance as Yor suddenly makes sense within the context of Sam Jones' wooden performance as Flash Gordon, fighting against John Steiner's evil hooded Overlord who's a little bit Ming, a little bit Palpatine.
Did I mention that there's a rebel alliance fighting against the imperial baddy, and that they all look a lot like Tubeway Army-era Gary Numan? AND that there's a climactic green lasers versus red lasers show-down in the boiler room of an office building that rounds out the movie? YEAH, TOTALLY.
"Yor" is a movie that's either way better than it deserves to be or exactly as good as you expect it to be, depending on your point of view. The THREE giant, puppet dinosaurs look pretty rad, and there's clearly an effort that's been made to create an immersive fantasy world. Sure, every group of primitive people is themed, a little like a beige, suede reimagining of "The Warriors," but that's actually rather rad in my book. This is the kind of movie you can't watch and NOT smile--it's so damn much fun that it makes me a little mad that I didn't get an opportunity to see it when I was a kid (like Baron XIII did, that lucky bastard). I mean--come the fuck on--this is a movie where a caveman uses a furry pterodactyl as a hang-glider. What is not to love, friends?
While "Yor" doesn't offer the kind of salacious sexiness that I usually enjoy in my Eurotrash, there's quite a bit of eye candy to enjoy. Corrine Clery (some of you may recognize her from Just Jaeckin's "Story of O") looks like a slightly sweeter version of Adrienne Barbeau, and fans of cavegirl bikinis will be delighted with her outfit. Ka-Laa provides much of the tension in the story, since a LOT of screen time is devoted to Yor, wandering the wasteland, having cave-people try to foist babes on him while Ka-Laa sulks and gets jealous. A standout here is foxy, foxy Marina Rocchi, who plays grass-skirted beach primitive Tarita. It's a damn shame she only has one other screen appearance--an uncredited one at that--because she's luminously lovely. Really--look, people:
So maybe the level of joy I felt watching "Yor, the Hunter from the Future" is unique to me. The people who've rated it 3.4 stars on IMDB clearly have a different perspective on what makes a movie entertaining. But if you're reading THIS blog, you clearly have an appreciation for the weirder, more wondrous stuff in life, and will duly understand why I encourage you to seek out this movie sooner rather than later.