Monday, 9 June 2008

Yor, the Hunter From the Future (1983)


What if I told you of a film where a curiously well-groomed caveman beats up paper mache dinosaurs with a stone axe? What about a film where heroic dudes in shiny jumpsuits have violent laser battles with robots? Now, what if I told you it was the same film. Admit buddy, you just had a YORgasm! You like Darth Vader? How about a whole army of Darth Vaders? Paper mache dinosaurs? This film has two. Antonio Margheriti (credited as Anthony M. Dawson to disguise it's origins as a Italian/Turkish co-production) tries to shove in everything that little boys like, stomping through settings and genres like a t-rex, gobbling up any element from successful genre films that can be realised on half a shoestring. The resulting 50 pound turd is Yor, the Hunter From the Future.

As the film opens, Yor is prancing through rocky Turkish terrain while his ridiculous prog-rock theme song states that it's Yor's world and he is, in fact, the man. Yor is played by Reb Brown, a brawny non-actor who looks like a So-Cal surfer that accidently stumbled onto the set. After saving the sexy Ka-Laa and less sexy Pag from the jaws of a villainous tri-stega-tops, he is invited back to their village for a celebration, where Ka-Laa seduces him with a sexy dance. As Ka-Laa asks, "Why is Yor so different from the other men?" Good question. Maybe it's his freshly waxed torso or maybe it's his ridiculous blonde wig, but it's all got something to do with the crappy medallion around his neck. After the entire village, save Ka-Laa and Pag, are wiped out by a rival tribe of hairy, blue-skinned cavemen, the trio set off a quest to discover Yor's origins.

In their travels they come across Roa. She is the subject of worship for a group of desert-dwelling cavemen, and she possesses a medallion much like Yor's. After a battle wipes out the desert tribe, she joins them on their journey. That's the thing about Yor, the ladies can't resist him. They're throwing themselves at him left and right, begging him to take them away. One guy just straight up gives his wife to Yor as a reward. With so many hoes in different area codes, tensions are bound to result, and sure enough Ka-Laa and Roa end up in a battle royale that will hopefully leave their already-revealing garnments scattered to the four winds. Ka-Laa is just being selfish, of course. As Pag states, by their law Yor is allowed to have multiple wives. There's plenty of Yor to go around ladies, no crowding. Luckily for Ka-Laa, a few minutes later their clumsy love triangle is resolved when Roa gets her skull cracked by some evil cavemen.

It should be pretty clear how Yor and hunting figure into all of this, but what about the Future? Well, here's where the film takes a sharp left into crazy town. After sailing to a mysterious island in a ridiculous straw boat, our heroes are captured by robots. You see it seems that this isn't prehistoric Earth, but in fact post-nuke Earth. Doesn't really explain the dinosaurs, but a small pocket of civilisation still remains. This futuristic facility (as played by some factory basement in Turkey) is presided over by the aptly named Overlord, who intends to create a master race of emotionless cyborgs using Yor's DNA. He commands a loyal army of robots who look more than a little like a certain character from a certain popular sci-fi franchise. I won't say who, but it rhymes with Marth Mader. It also turns out that Yor's father was leader of a rebellious faction that made overtures to overthrow the Overlord, but crashed his spaceship, leaving Yor (and Roa) to grow up alone in the wilderness. Now Yor has to lead a group of plucky rebels to victory, destroying the Overlord and flying to a distant planet so they can start civilisation again.

Apparently this film was cut down from a four-part tv series. As a result it moves very quickly, Yor and company only staying in a location long enough for the next action sequence. It's a family friendly film, so nudity is limited to skimpy outfits and copious shots of Yor's ass. Although there is a lot of violence, there is very little blood. Guido and Maurizio DeAngelis (aka Oliver Onions) provide the soundtrack, the highlight being Yor's theme, a piece of synth-heavy Euro rock that poorly echoes Queen's contribution to Flash Gordon. Every time Yor does something heroic, using the corpse of a giant bat to hang glide into a cave for instance, we are treated to a triumphant blast of "Yor's world, he's the maaaan!" in heavily-accented English.

Antonio Margheriti wasn't content to rip off a single film, he tried to rip off almost every genre film in cinema history. It's hard to choke down the bitter concoction he produced, but you've got to admire his enthusiasm. Even if the spaceships are wobbly scale models and a climactic swing across a gaping chasm is achieved primarily through the use action figures, the whole film has a very earnest quality about it. The clean cut, heroic Yor is nothing like the vicious amoral barbarians we are used to. He's like a big, dumb, shaggy dog that has bad breath and shits on the carpet, but you love him anyway. It truly is Yor's world, and he is the man.

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