For dinosaur geeks, 2018 already promises to be a good year. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is slated for release in June, while Nick Park’s animated prehistoric saga Early Man came out this month. But even before that, there’s reason for fans of troglodytes and giant reptiles to rejoice: The 35th anniversary Blu-Ray re-release of 1983’s Yor, the Hunter from the Future came out last month.
An Italian production shot mostly in Turkey, among the weird, unearthly rock formations of Cappadocia, this relic of the big-hair-and-wine-cooler decade features an American leading man. USC running back turned action star Reb Brown plays Yor, a smiling blond hero in a loincloth, wandering a strange primordial world of cave people and terrifying monsters. In the opening scene, he cheerfully rescues a gorgeous cavewoman and her grizzled guardian from a rampaging “stegoceratops” (or maybe it’s a “triceragosaurus”) — in any case, it has both three horns on its face and plates running down its back. He kills the clunky beast, then sips its blood, noting, “The blood of your enemy makes you stronger.”
In the adventures that ensue, Yor, the cave-gal Kala (Corinne Clery), and the archer Pag (the veteran Italian actor Luciano Pigozzi, billed in the U.S. as “Alan Collins”) tangle with further creatures — at one point Yor kills a pterodactyl and then uses its carcass as a hang-glider; don’t try this at home, kids. They run afoul of shaggy blue-skinned marauders and robotic, ray-gun wielding Darth Vader look-likes, the minions of an evil overlord (John Steiner) conveniently known as “The Overlord.”
Yor is also assailed left and right by temptresses, much to poor Kala’s dismay. After he rescues another young damsel from peril, her father offers the girl to him. “Take me with you, stranger!” she avidly pleads. Evidently more evolved than Roy Moore, Yor takes a pass, but the smirk he wears each time he encounters a new beauty suggests that he doesn’t find the idea entirely revolting.
Our hero gradually learns of his own mysterious background as — spoiler alert! — the descendant of a technologically advanced culture: We are, you see, in the distant post-apocalyptic future, not our prehistoric past. He and The Overlord clash over the latter’s plans to use Yor and Kala’s offspring to create a race of mindless slaves.
“When you have inseminated this woman, you will die,” explains The Overlord.
“You command a world of puppets!” Yor witheringly declares. “Is that your goal in life?”
“Yes,” replies The Overlord. As opposed to “Duh.”
Veterans of ‘80s-era moviegoing and cable and VHS movie watching may find that revisiting Yor puts a smile on their face. Indeed, after I watched the film I promptly rewatched it, this time with the disc’s only major “Special Feature”: a commentary track by star Reb Brown.
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Brown comes across as possibly the most affable fellow who has ever lived, sheepishly chuckling his way through the movie’s hour and a half without an unkind word to say about anybody. “He was a good guy,” he says of just about every actor or crew member he mentions. “There’s no CGI back then,” he notes dryly, again and again, every time he’s confronted with the movie’s laughable special effects, indulgently adding, “It comes off pretty well.”
Oddly, he’s right. The fanciful pseudo-dinosaurs, for instance, would seem shoddy and clumsy today even by the standards of a suburban Halloween yard display, but somehow their non-CGI solidity, their obvious three-dimensional existence, gives them an extra gravitas. Sort of.
Brown isn’t much of a raconteur, but he does manage some memorable turns of phrase, as when he describes his howl of triumph: “I had a scream that would kill rapists in other countries!” he remarks, bafflingly. He also notes that when he signs an autograph, “…it says ‘Yor’s truly!’”
I’m not an autograph hound, but that’s one I would treasure.