Outlaw of Gor (1988)
Director: John ‘Bud’ Cardos
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, Jack Palance
Synopsis: An Earthman returns to the planet Gor, and fights against tyranny.
Gor, for the uninitiated, is a parallel universe ‘counter-earth’ created by novelist John Norman, to which University professor Tarl Cabot is mysteriously transported after crashing his car. The first novel in the series — there are 33 of them to date — was written in 1966, the latest in 2013, and they all cater to those restless souls who seek escape from the mundaneness of reality and for whom internet role-playing games are perhaps an impenetrable mystery. They feature lots of warriors, plenty of busty women — both meek and subservient and proud and haughty (but ultimately subservient) — and so forth. Basically, it’s your standard swords and sandals franchise with a few exotic, other-worldly animals thrown in for good measure — although the budget for Outlaw of Gor clearly wasn’t big enough to cover the special effects required for them. Personally, swords and sandals isn’t a genre that ever floated my boat, but there’s obviously a market out there for this kind of thing, and it can boast at least a few decent movies. Sadly, Outlaw of Gor, which was written by Harry Alan Towers, the British writer of schlock whose other credits include 99 Women and The Blood of Fu Manchu, isn’t one of those movies. Outlaw of Gor is, in fact, cheese. With a serving of ham.
Cabot is played by Italian actor Urbano Barberini, a handsome chap with limited acting skills. Cabot is back on earth following his adventures in the original Gor movie, which was filmed at the same time as its sequel, but he’s wishing he was back on Gor, not only because he misses Talena (Playboy centrefold Rebecca Ferratti), the princess with whom he got jiggy on Gor, but also because on Earth he’s burdened with the company of Watney Smith (Russel Savadier), the obligatory annoying comic relief. Watney likes to say Cabot’s name — as do most other members of the cast. ‘Cabot!’ they say. ‘Cabot! Cabot! Cabot! Cabot!’ You might think I’m kidding, but his surname is honestly spoken seven times in a row by three different characters when he is summoned back to Gor (with the annoying Watney in tow) by one of its wise elders. This wise elder is concerned that the evil wizard Xenos (a slumming Jack Palance — The Desperados, Monte Walsh) and the King’s foxy young wife Lara (Donna Denton) are planning to overthrow the kindly old king, so he has to secretly summon Cabot (Cabot! Cabot!) under that tired old pretence of ‘cleaning and polishing the vibrations of the headstone.’ How he got away with that tired old dog I’ll never know…
Lana has wormed her way into the king’s affections in order to get close to his power, but she must do him in before he can pass that power onto his daughter, Talena. After knifing the old boy in the back, both figuratively and literally, Lana frames Cabot (Cabot! Cabot!) and Talena for the murder, thus prompting an hour or so of merciless padding which sees Cabot (Cabot! Cabot!) wandering around the desert with a midget sidekick called Midget Hup (Nigel Chipps), who at least isn’t as annoying as the wretched Watney, who is by now paying the price for defecting to Lana’s side, while Talena is forced to fight against a succession of scantily clad female warriors just to stay alive.
If it wasn’t for its cheesy camp factor, Outlaw of Gor would have absolutely nothing going for it. The only actor of any worth is poor old Jack Palance whose obvious desperation for work sees him futilely attempting to retain a modicum of dignity while wearing a succession of increasingly silly hats. There is the barest hint of a plot bracketing that interminable middle section in which nothing happens, but it’s the kind of cobbled-together nonsense that kids in the playground would dream up. The women all wear lip gloss and big 1980s hair as if they’ve just stepped out of some swanky LA salon, and are decked out in outfits designed to display legs and cleavage and to conceal a paucity of acting talent. Donna Denton, in particular, is truly excruciating as the evil Lana, screeching for her ‘Guards!’ every couple of minutes and delivering such classic lines as ‘you disgusssssting woooorrrrrm’ with such over-the-top vehemence that it’s surprising she isn’t better known than she is.
Do yourself a favour, and give this one a miss. Go and sit in a dark room and stick pins in your eyes — you’ll find it a lot more enjoyable than watching this rubbish…
(Reviewed 10th March 2014)