Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Yor- Hunter from the future
Throw him off the cliff! Hurry! The gods must be appeased with fresh blood!
I don’t know where to begin with this one. Yor: The Hunter From The Future is ostensibly a barbarian hero film, except Yor isn’t a barbarian hero. It’s ostensibly a sci-fi, except that Yor is clearly a fucking primitive, and surrounds himself with other primitives. It’s just the oddest mish-mash of genres and styles, with robots, planes, rubber dinosaurs, cavemen and the cheesiest theme song this side of Flash Gordon.
I have to say that I really didn’t know what to expect from this. It was recommended by Noted Sage Tom Bando and I was on that whole Beastmaster kick so thought fuck it, I’ll give it a spin. If I had any expectations at all they were low, and I was vaguely hoping for a bit of Deathstalker style stupidity. What I got was a huge amount of stupidity, but not like anything I’ve ever seen before. There’s no nudity, laughable violence, a clash of civilisations between the prehistoric and the advanced and a big loincloth clad goon.
Yor doesn’t fuck around. We’re thrown straight into the action as he pitches up to rescue a fur clad wench from an evil marauding papier-mache Rhinosceres-type beast. In he jumps, stone axe swinging and off comes the dino’s head. Pausing only to drink its blood (for strength), Yor is taken back to the village to be guest of honour at a feast. Said feast is ruined though, by the arrival of another tribe of cavemen who burn the whole place to the ground. This forces Yor to depart to search out a witch (don’t ask), and he’s accompanied by the wench (Kaa-Lee) and her father. The party grows when they add the witch to it (it turns out she’s Yor’s intended bride or some such) then there’s another fight with cavemen (who kill the witch), and another dinosaur battle before eventually they set out for an island.
I was a bit lost at this point.
On arrival at the island, Yor is kidnapped, leaving Pag and Kaa-Lee to play a bizarre game of hide and seek with lazer wielding robots. Eventually one thing leads to another and it’s all explained. It turns out that the island is home to an advanced civilisation led by the despotic Overlord who has a nefarious plan to eliminate the population of the world and replace them with robots. Luckily there’s a rebellion in the offing, and they (with a little help from Yor) overcome him before everyone of note flies off into the sunset in a space ship/ jet plane.
The acting is, and this isn’t going to come as a massive shock, crap. Former bond girl Corrine Clery tries her best as Kaa-Lee to no avail, and Reb Brown plays Yor with a huge smile on his face, but really they’ve got no chance with material as frankly demented as this. John Steiner is, on the other hand, dreadful as Overlord. He’s got all the menace of a hamster in a hissy fit, and despite getting the vast majority of the good lines in the film, manages to make the whole thing worse than it should be. However, the acting isn’t really the problem here.
Neither are the special effects. They are also, admittedly, complete crap but that doesn’t really matter. This is a zero budget Barbarian movie so I care not a jot that our caveman is fighting a plastic rhino and nor do I care that they couldn’t afford proper restraints so he just has to lie on the table saying “I demand that you release me” before someone presses a button and he can all of a sudden move again.
Nor is the score. The theme tune itself is hilarious in its cheesiness, and the other musical accompaniment is amusing and inoffensive enough. It doesn’t really fit the material in either the prehistoric or the futuristic section, but I haven’t really got any complaints about it.
So what is the problem then? Well, if you look at the plot synopsis above then you should have a fairly clear idea- it’s horribly disjointed and feels hopelessly episodic. Which isn’t surprising, really, seeing as Yor did start out life as a TV series made in Italy for Italians. After the four episodes had ended with reasonable success, some bright spark had the idea of basically gluing them together, cutting half an hour and giving us a 90 minute film. Why you would do this is lost on me, but they did. This means that the 2 sections of the film feel totally off, and his adventures don’t have a natural progression. I bet that episode one was the first Caveman tribe bit with Kaa-Lee, episode 2 will have been the scenes with the witch in the mountains, episode 3 will be the journey to the island and the concluding part will be overthrowing Overlord. I can’t prove this, but if I was a gambling man and willing to inflict 120 minutes of Yor on myself, then I would place money on that being the case.
Having said all that, though, I did have a good time with Yor. It’s obviously a terrible film, but it’s also a reasonably entertaining one. The theme tune is so goddamn cheesy that it put me in a cracking mood to watch some nonsense, and the film does deliver that in spades. If the science-fiction segments of it feel lacking in comparison, and it doesn’t really feel like it’s concluded properly, that strikes me as a small price to pay for having laughed at a muscle-bound nobhead clobber a papier-mache Rhino with a stone axe.
Overall, would I recommend it? I’m damned if I know. I’m just so confused by the whole thing that writing this review hasn’t shed any light on my feelings towards the film. It’s not a complete waste of time, but we aren’t exactly talking about Conan either. If you do decide to watch it, then on your own head be it- I’m not taking an iota of blame for this one as I’m as confused as a dog with two dicks regarding this film.
Do seek out the theme song though- it’s hilarious.
Until next time,