Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Yor: The Hunter from the Future (1983)
Italian cinema has delivered some cinema greats over the years, and it's also been a fountain of cheesiness. There are many examples, some more well known than others. Among these is Yor, Hunter from the Future, one of the 'best', from noted director Antonio Marghereti...
Yor is a lonely traveller in a prehistoric and. He has no tribe, and the only connection with his past is a strange medallion around his neck. On his journey he saves the beautiful Ka-Laa, and her guardian Pag, and meets with their tribe. Before they can settle down however, they're attacked by evil cavemen. Once the long fight is over, the three heroes must continue Yor's search for answers, wherever it may take them...
Yor: Hunter from the Future has gained quite a cult following over the years, and has finally seen a long overdue blu-ray release, having completely skipped the DVD generation. This is for good reason, as Yor has to be seen to be believed! It's a caveman/prehistoric fantasy that sees its hero do battle with purple cavemen, sand mummies, dinosaurs, and a whole range of other beasties. There's never a dull moment, and it's the height of cheesy entertainment. Never what I would call genuinely bad, though some moments are delivered so poorly or amusingly that you can't help but laugh.
Yor has an episodic feel, and is divided into four distinct segments. This is because the film was originally a 200 minute miniseries! That truly is the greatest dream of all fans of this film! Because of this origin, the movie passes very quickly, because each segment feels like the beginning of another story, so it sort of tricks your brain a little.
Where the film may lose some is in the twist in the last third, wherein it's revealed this really takes place in the future! It's a bundle of fun to see these cavemen fighting robots and firing lasers, while a high-tech base explodes all around them and spaceships rain death from the skies, but it does take away from the story a bit, as well as the film's consistency. Some may have gotten so used to a caveman movie that they wanted to see that movie's conclusion, and wish that the futuristic stuff was saved for another production altogether. My thoughts lie in-between. I see the positives in both sides.
Where Yor, Hunter from the Future is also distinct is in its staggeringly high body count! Yor does not give a fuck! The benevolent tribe at the start? All get killed! Then Yor wipes out the purple cavemen, the sand mummies, and more. The dude is seriously dangerous to be around!
The romance is also funny. At the halfway point we're introduced to a second love interest, and despite the repeated assertion that cavemen can have many wives, Ka-laa is not having it! Her crazy jealousy is hilarious to watch, and the looks she gives are like daggers!
The characters in this film are pretty varied, though we don't get to know most for very long. Many die within minutes! The leads are a likeable bunch/trio. Yor is a charismatic hero, and while he has his lesser moments (he killed that poor dinosaur!), he's fun to watch, and you feel good when he triumphs. Ka-laa is very pretty, and is absolutely psychotic when it comes to her man! She won't have anything come between them. She also has a bad habit of ignoring commands/instructions from others, and can't use a knife to save her life! Every time she tries, she's too slow and gets knocked out.
Pag is a nice addition too. He may be pudgy, short, and middle aged, but he never feels like a third wheel. He's always contributing, makes it through the entire movie successfully, and gets plenty of badass moments all to himself!
Other characters range from nice, to alright but too underdeveloped. The rebel elder in the last act is amusing in how he won't shut up! The whole time the heroes are trying to foil the evil Overlord's plans, he keeps monologuing to the supervillain! If he spent half as much time actually deactivating the robots like he said, maybe the rebels wouldn't still be getting killed!
And lastly, there's the villainous Overlord. He's fun, though he's so hammy that he's hard to take seriously. With his booming voice and manic gesticulations, he's never boring, and more than makes up for his short screentime!
When it comes to fun, you can't look past Yor! This is cemented firmly early on when Yor kills a pterodactyl and uses its corpse as a hanglider to storm a cave! It only gets better from there, folks!
This is a well paced movie, moving along breezily, and never getting bogged down with anything. Its biggest fault is actually that one particular development happens too quickly! Blondie hasn't even been with the group for ten minutes when she suddenly gets killed. It's all very dramatic, and she talks about ho much she's loved Yor in the time she's known him, and I was left thinking "You met three hours ago, you dopes!".
The effects in Yor: Hunter from the Future are simultaneously a high point, and so low in quality that they almost single-handedly turned the movie into a 'so bad it's good' experience! On the good side we've got great sets,well-crafted animatronics, and good costumes everywhere. On the other hand we have robots with visibly human necks, and the most obvious dolls you'll see this side of Turkish Superman! These moments really make the movie a hoot, and are always worth a chuckle.
The acting in Yor is pretty good. Reb Brown is a fine lead, getting across both tough stares and goofy grins nicely as he swings and punches his way through. Corrine Clery is a nice love interest, and Luciano Pigozzi (aka Alan Collins) is endearing as Pag. There are many over the top performances, both from the leads and all the others, but while it can be silly, it's rarely bad. John Steiner is good as the villain, with a deep voice and deliciously evil intonations. And he's a master of making grand sweeping motions, as well as standing up, moving all the way across the room to monologue, only to return back to his seat, still talking. I guess Overlord must get plenty of exercise!
Yor was a co-production between Italy and Turkey, and the majority of the actors present are Turks. There's even Aytekin Akkaya, not that you'd recognise him under the make-up. The biggest contribution Turkey makes besides the cast is the location, with Cappadocia being an everpresent fixture of the scenery. Not sure how accurate it is to walk straight from there into a densely forested region, but oh well, it's easily forgiven.
Antonio Marghereti may not have been working on his most prestigious film of his career, but he knows he's making something fun! His direction is very good, with many shots framed well! He may not be able to hide the dolls, but he makes it entertaining nonetheless!
Finally, there's the music. We've got fun 80s music as the movie goes along, as well as nice tender melodies, remixing the main them in a very good way. And then there's the theme itself-Yor's World. It's a great tune, catchy, =, amusing, and really gets you in the mood for adventure! The lyrics do actually make sense and feel well written when you read what they are, but hearing them they sound like bad translations "No tries to lead the way, he search for a yesterday", etc.
Yor, the Hunter from the Future is a thoroughly entertaining picture, and is not only a great introduction to the cheesiness of Italian cinema, but a great film to watch all-round. Guaranteed to be a good time, I recommend it...