Fritz Kiersch, 1987
Starring: Oliver Reed, Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Feratti
I feel like sword and sorcery month is inevitably going out on kind of a bad note, but as I’ve moved chronologically through the ‘80s, there’s really no way to avoid that. Which brings us to Gor. Based on the first novel of John Norman’s Tarnsman of Gor series (now 25+ books), this is a sort of a bland, low budget cross between Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars novel and Deathstalker by way of Ator the Fighting Eagle.
An awkward history professor, Tarl Cabot, is accidentally transported - via a magic ring passed down through his family - to the troubled planet Gor. The evil King Sarm is decimating the countryside in search of the Home Stone, a device that creates passageways between different dimensions, namely between Gor and Earth. Cabot accidentally kills Sarm’s son and is rescued by a barbarian tribe. Cabot accompanies their princess, Talena, in search of her father, who is being held in Sarm’s prison, and the Home Stone.
The only real reason to watch this film is the participation of the great Oliver Reed. He embraces the role of Sarm with a real scenery-chewing gusto and seems to have had a lot of fun, even though this might be the lowest point of his career. The rest of the acting is abominable. I expected more from Urbano Barnerini, but I don’t really know why. He was good in Argento’s Opera as the creepy serial killer, but basically does no real acting in Demons other than yelling and running around. Here he is just inept, but certainly fits in with the rest of the cast. Though Jack Palance is given high billing, he only appears at the very end of the film, setting it up for a sequel. There’s also a surprise appearance from a young Arnold Vosloo (Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy), who I always enjoy. June 1986 Playmate of the Month Rebecca Ferratti is almost better than the rest of the cast, but for some reason keeps her clothes on throughout the film.
The lack of sex or nudity is especially odd, because Norman’s series is known for its female slave fetishism, which has apparently become popular over the years within BDSM culture. There is some depiction of women as slaves in Gor, such as a slave girl auction scene, but it’s so cheesy that it doesn’t even really register on an exploitation level.
Director Fritz Kiersch (Children of the Corn) doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing and honestly not a lot happens. I wish I had better things to say about a film produced by the wonderful Harry Alan Towers, but Gor will likely only appeal to sword and sorcery completists or Oliver Reed fanatics. As I am both of those, I suffered through till the end. This U.S./South African production is so low budget that it can’t boast much in terms of special effects, but there are some great costume designs, namely for Sarm and his henchmen, like those helmets... Though apparently they couldn’t afford pants for anyone.
I can’t really recommend Gor. If you feel the need to watch it there is no DVD, but it’s floating around online. There’s also a sequel, Outlaw of Gor, in which Jack Palance has a much larger role. I couldn't bring myself to watch that one, though someone more motivated than I am could really make some fun drinking games out of both these films.