November 12, 2011

Movie Review: Gor

Where to begin with this one. It started as I was trolling through Netflix looking for something quick and painless when I stumbled across this gem from 1987. It is a sword and sorcery epic made on a budget and it has a certain charm to it, but let's be real, this is far from a good movie and only fans of certain types of films will enjoy it. And by certain types of films, I am referring to campy B-movies and low budget fantasy flicks. I admit to enjoying more than my fair share of camp, but this one did try my limits.



The movie is called Gor (the sequel, Outlaw of Gor, was shot back to back with it), and it is based on the novel Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman, which was the first of a series of 25 novels beginning back in 1966. Now, even before getting to the movie, I was intrigued by some of the back story surrounding it as apparently there is some controversy. John Norman is a pseudonym for John Lange Jr, a psychology professor who wrote all of the Gor novels, and he apparently was a proponent of slavery and the submissiveness of women. The books apparently had a lot of this content in them, to the point that the later books were very much softcore porn. I have also learned that while Lange has been ostracized from the science fiction community, his work has been embraced by the BDSM community. Strange stuff.

What makes it even more interesting is that despite the controversial content of the book, the movie is rather chaste. Yes, there is some slave ownership displayed on the alien world and there is a random fight between two women, but there is no nudity and it all seems rather tame. It doesn't hurt that the rest of the movie fails to excite as well, with some poor looking swordfights and a general inescapable campiness.

Tarl Cabot (Urbano Barbarino) is a college professor who believes a ring he inherited from his father can transport him to the world of Gor. Most sane folks laugh at him. Anyway, he heads off to try and prove himself right and crashes his car. Apparently this is just what he needed. He wakes up on Gor just as the evil Sarm (a drunken Oliver Reed) is attacking a village and taking their home stone. (are you still there?)



Tarl sees a warrior woman standing hr ground and doing her best to fend off the attackes. Her name is Talena (Playboy Playmate Rebecca Ferratti) and soon enough she, along with an old man and a midget, are showing Tarl how to fight and going on a quest to Sarm's kingdom to take the bad guy down.

Seriously, there is not much to the story outside of that. Well, there is Jack Palance who appears at the end, but he only seems there to set up a sequel. On top of that, he looks confused, as if he wandered onto the wrong set.

This is a low budget affair with a look that is typical of the era. Nothing looks all that convincing, the acting is on par with a deer caught in headlights (particularly with regards to Barbarini), and the story is straight forward and offers no surprises. Still, fans of camp will likely enjoy the ridiculousness. Surprisingly enough, I did not hate it. Do not take that as an endorsement, just recognize my enjoyment of campiness.

Why did I enjoy it? Beyond entertaining campiness, there is a certain energy about this. Some of them were clearly were trying to make something good, but then you have Oliver Reed who was clearly looking for a paycheck, and the the overall weirdness of the story execution to enjoy.

I cannot recommend that you watch this. There is probably a small percentage of you who will be entertained, the rest of you will be bored and confused. It really isn't worth your time.

Not Recommended.


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