Monday, December 13, 2010

Instant Trash: Gor

I like books, but hate reading.  I mean, who wastes their time doing that?  By the way, thanks for reading.  So if I want to know what a book is like without reading, what can I do?  It's simple- watch the movie.  In this case, it's Gor, the summation of the first movie of the series.  By the time that this movie was made, there were 24 books in the series.  Way to bide your time, filmmakers!  So does this movie do the books justice?  I couldn't tell you.  As a non-reader, how could I?  Besides, I certainly haven't read books about magical dimensions, sweaty men fighting and women constantly in slavery.  On second thought, I'm starting to change my mind about that.  Since I don't have time to read all 29 books in the series (with a 30th to come in 2011), let's just jump into the movie.  For starters, it stars Urbano Barberini and Oliver Reed.  Wow, that's a pair, huh?  Get out your vaguely-magical ring for my review of...
This tale of a rich, fantasy world begins with...a rip-off of Indiana Jones.  Yes, our hero is a College Professor doing a lecture.  Keep an eye out, copyright lawyers!  He lectures about a magical world named Gor and tells the tale of a magic ring that was passed down to him by his father.  Yes, they teach this in College!  His day turns bad as his girlfriend skips out on a weekend with him, dumping him instead for The Mummy.  Seriously, a young Arnold Vosloo is here- with hair!  Embarrassed, he leaves for the countryside, only to crash his car into a tree...just after a silly-looking smoke effect occurs inside.  The result: our hero is in Gor.  Yes, just like that.  On the plus side, you'll get to see equally-lazy teleportation effects in January's first review.  He loses his glasses, but, like the girl from 1990's Night of the Living Dead, it has zero impact on the film.  Lazy writing crosses borders, I see.  Awakening in a desert (the film was shot in North Africa), our hero looks down into a valley to see a village under siege.  Generic Conan-style pillaging and fighting occurs, all under the watchful eye of a shirtless Oliver Reed wearing the goofiest get-up of the movie.  You had to be drunk every day, right?  The bad guys steal a 'homestone,' but the lead girl escapes and inadvertently runs into our hero.  He, in turn, inadvertently kills Reed's son and is saved by the villagers.  Explanation please.
Basically, the ring is magical and summons people to Gor when aid is needed.  You may find this plot familiar and you'd be right.  I guess someone had to mix The Wizard of Oz and Conan!  Our hero's family is apparently the guardians of Gor, as the Village Elder speaks of previous 'heroes' coming to their and the man spoke of how the ring was passed down to him.  Of course, our hero is a dork.  Thankfully, his worth as a 'symbol' is enough that he is given training- in a two-minute montage.  By the way, he's never going to have trouble fighting ever again.  I love how key character traits can vanish thanks to a single montage!  This leads to our heroes wandering through the desert for a bit.  On the plus side, it's not the Catacombs.  On the down side, this padding is pretty sad.  The group eventually stop in a desert town ripped right out of Star Wars to get supplies.  They meet a man holding slaves and get what they need.  In addition, they run into a sarcastic midget who promises to help them.  Before that though, we get something to make Joey Styles happy- catfight!  Just sort of inexplicably, our heroine is forced to fight with a slave owned by the bad guy.  It goes on for a few minutes and they just leave.  In the desert, they are attacked by the man again.  Our hero kills him by reflecting the sun off of his calculator-watch and stabbing him.  No, really.
To be honest, the padding got too much for me, so the latter part of this movie is kind of hazy.  After some wandering, our heroes are captured by Reed.  He was gone for the last forty minutes, so it's good to see his silly outfit again.  He tries to trick our hero into joining his side, which is odd considering that he was hunting him down for killing his son earlier.  He doesn't fall for it, choosing to brand Reed instead of our heroine.  They escape and go to free the Village Elder and Disposable Guy.  Yes, he's so interesting that I didn't mention him at all this whole time!  The guy ends up dying when our hero's sword breaks in battle and he tosses his to him.  Wow, I could have called that.  He ends up freeing the Elder and leading to the final battle. Reed is in the midst of giving a big speech when our hero shoots him through the throat, causing him to fall to his death.  Well, that was pretty much it.  In the aftermath, our hero has some PG-rated sex with the lady and Jack Palance shows up- not at the same time!  He explains that he's a High Priest who's come to help make things right.  For no good reason, our hero decides to use the homestone to leave Gor.  The pay-off: he punches Vosloo out, instantly regaining his girlfriend's love.  Back on Gor, Palance explains in narration that he's evil, thus setting up the sequel.  The End.
This movie sucks!  The plot is dumb.  I could probably stop there, but I'll elaborate.  Despite allegedly-being a film based on the Gor book series, so much is excised!  Our hero is not tough, slavery is rare and, quite frankly, it's not salacious enough.  Normally I wouldn't complain about that, but this is a Gor film!  Those books are dirty and perverse.  This movie is not.  You get a Playboy Playmate as the lead actress, but nothing really comes of this.  She wears a tight outfit the whole time, but that's it.  Is there an Unrated Cut out there or something?  If not, I don't get it.  The acting is not that good either.  Urbano is decent, although his character is so stock.  Reed is actually very subtle and quiet here.  I know, I was surprised too!  Palance is the third-biggest star here (for Italy), but shows up just to set up Outlaw of Gor.  How freaking lame is that?!?  Like Beastmaster, Ator, Deathstalker and the like, this movie only exists because of Conan's success.  However, those films are either good or have a funny hook to them.  This film is just kind of 'eh.'  As a non-Gor reader, I found it kind of dull.  As a Gor reader, you'll realize how unrelated the whole thing is.  On the plus side, funny hat...
Next up, an obscure horror film decides to turn a scientific tragedy into a film plot.  You don't have any fond memories of Skylab, do you?  Stay tuned...


  1. I just watched this one too! Blogged about it here:

  2. I've read the books, and dear Lord I just thought the writing in that was bad (although the storyline was decent). But this movie...I actually laughed at quite a bit of it because it was just so incredibly bad.

  3. Considering Gor books (and the adventures of that professor) were published well before Indiana Jones was thought of, if anything, the copyright lawyers should be hassling Spielberg.

    Mind you, I'm not defending the quality of either the Gor books or movies.