Monday, June 29, 2009


Year: 1988

Director: Fritz Kiersch

Cast: Oliver Reed, Jack Palance, Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, et al.

Format Viewed: VHS

Run Time: 95 minutes

Recommended: Yes, but only if you haven't read the novels and are a fan of campy B-movies.

MPAA Rating: PG (For fantasy violence and graphic depictions of crazy hats.)

Gorean Fantasy: Despite assumptions based on the name this form of fantasy has very little- in fact it has next to nothing at all- to do with blood and gore. Rather this fantasy genre is about self-indulgent male oriented slave girl fantasy.

Life on Gor.

Premise: Tarl Cabot, like John Carter- the character Cabot is all too obviously based upon- is transported to a distant world where he has many fantastical adventures.

The Movie: Professor Tarl Cabot is giving a lecture about a magic ring and the legend associated with it. In fact he drones on and on about this ring and what it's supposed magical powers are. Cut to the professor in his car. As he's driving away a storm kicks up, the professor loses control, and the next thing you know it's WHAM!

Tarl Cabot

The professor wakes up on what appears to be coarse gravel. As the professor gets up and looks around it's sudden shocked realization time. For as far as the eye can see all there is to see is desert. Did he die and go to hell? Is this a concussion induced hallucination? Where the heck is his car?

Before we can fully question what's going on Tarl wanders upon a village, or maybe it's a town, we see it from a distance so it's hard to tell. Again, before the audience can fully question what's going on, we see said town is under attack! Fires are set, men are killed, women run frantically to and fro, and amidst the chaos a single female warrior stands valiantly before a crimson colored stone battling all who dare approach her.

Talena, Warrior Princess

It's obvious that this female warrior is important because we keep seeing her between cut scenes. Alas not even her best Red Sonja impression can help her now. There's just too many enemy warriors. Ultimately they overwhelm her and the other defenders, and this is only the beginning of the movie!

Slave Market

Alas Gor doesn't keep this action packed pace throughout. It has it's moments, a Sapphic tavern brawl here, a bevy of scantily clad dancing girls there, a glimpse of a slave auction, alas the dull plodding drone of the cliché riddled plot gives us a movie that is easy on the eyes but hard on the ears. Nor do the problems end there. Here's a sample of dialogue:

Tarl Cabot: Hey, what is this place?

Talena: It's a tavern.

In case you're wondering if the character is really THAT stupid: Yes, yes he is.

The Tavern

That's Tarl in the "tavern" and the entire time he wears one expression on his face: befuddled buffoon. Granted part of that may be due to the cheapness of the sets and ridiculous scenario and costumes but. .

Assessment: Gor is supposed to be an adaptation of the semi-popular and controversial novel, Tarnsman of Gor, by John Norman; the nom deplume of one John Lange Jr. If you've ever heard anything about the Gor novels this movie will probably baffle you. If you haven't ever heard of the novels not to worry, this movie has not relation to them beyond the use of a few character names and the use of the title. While technically science fantasy; being about a college professor that gets "magically" whisked away to an distant alternate world; Gor plays more like a sword and sorcery feature complete with swords, sandals, and low budget sorcery. Yet, for an 80s era sword-and-sorcery, movie Gor is very tame. Almost disappointingly so.

The Villain

Verdict: For an adaptation of a sword-and-sorcery novel Gor does not have much of the magical in it. The movie lacks even the rudimentary sense of enchantment found in Conan the Barbarian or the truly fantastical found in Hercules in the Haunted World. The special effects are sporadic and less impressive than those found in similar movies like Steel Dawn or The Adventures of Hajji Baba thus rendering Gor barely half as good as either of those movies. Yet it spawned a sequel: OUTLAW OF GOR.

Sadly GOR is only available on: VHS

#End of Line

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

1 comment:

Pat Powers said...

I enjoyed your review of Gor, I took an entirely different approach, based on my experience of the Gor novels, which struck me as an inspired combination of sword and sandal movies with softcore bondage porn. As you point out, the movies based on the novels are VERY confusing if you have read the novels, having so little to do with them and all. I lay most of the blame at the feet of Harry Alan Towers, the scriptwriter, a notorious hack with a knack for turning gold into lead, and the people who hired him. I saw the Gor movie as more a matter of sublimation ... all the sexual bondage stuff was transformed into fascination with silly hats:

And I explain the whole Harry Alan Towers thing in a review of another movie he butchered, "Warrior Queen."

Such is life!