I have a deep and unironic love for a certain type of fantasy film from the ’80s. This encompasses movies like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Legend and The Never-ending Story; the sort of grim fairytales that existed in the dusky light between childhood films and those aimed at adults, often with puppets! (a niche I feel is sorely lacking in modern cinema).
Slightly adjacent to those movies orbited a fantasy sub-genre all it’s own. These involved more swords and sorcery, sometimes with a science-fiction element, and were often painfully cheesy. Deathstalker, Hercules, BeastMaster, even the cartoon series He-man populated this strangely testosterone-riddled land.
This is the context in which Yor, the Hunter from the Future arrived 35 years ago. Based on the Argentine comic book character Henga el cazador, the film revolves around the mysterious origins of the titular character.
I wouldn’t normally lay out the entire storyline of a film for you, but in this case I feel it’s the best way to really capture Yor’s nonsensical charm. Don’t worry, even after I explain what happens, you won’t have any idea what’s going on. I’m pretty sure no one did, including the writers, the director or any of the actors.
You know you’re in for a delightful treat from the moment the theme songs begins playing. Performed in a nasally, high pitched voice by a guy named Guido who you just know was sporting a fluffy perm and high-waisted, acid-washed jeans at the time, the song informs us that this is “Yor’s world! He’s the man!”
Then we spot him, the tanned and hairless body glistening, the Prince Valiant mop of white-blonde hair practically blinding in the sun. He will continue to be highly oiled at all times, though the wig will start to look a little ragged and askew on occasion.
We meet Yor (played by Reb Brown) loping through a barren landscape where, hearing the cries for help from a prehistoric-looking tribe, he intervenes with his mighty axe. They’re being attacked by a dinosaur, but you realize there’s something slightly off about it. It’s a strange cross between a stegosaurus and a triceratops. No matter! Yor defeats it with an axe chop through the brain and a gratuitous amount of blood spurting from its eye. He drinks the blood of the fallen beast and encourages his new companions to do so as well. “Help me cut the choice meats!” he orders, in possibly the best line from the film.
That may be where I fell in love. It wasn’t just me swayed by his manly display, though. The cavegirl Kala he had rescued was immediately hot for his body. Yor is wearing an unusual golden medallion around his neck which one of the tribal elders recalls seeing before. Yor sets out on a mission to find his origins, but not before the village is attacked by a second tribe of ape-ish blue-skinned men. All of the villagers are captured, including Kala. He rescues her using a pair of giant bat wings, but leaves everyone else to drown and die.
Yor, Kala and her protector Pag continue on the quest, meeting up with yet another tribe- this time a bunch of desert-dwellers wrapped in rags. Their glistening blonde leader, Tarita, wears a medallion similar to Yor’s own. Yor slaughters the entire tribe, bringing Tarita along to continue his mission.
Kala is having none of this. Even though she’s been raised in a polyamorous society where it’s perfectly natural for men to have many wives, Yor is clearly much too special for her to share. Tarita and Yor go off for a little stroll, whereupon she informs Yor of her utter purity and virginity shortly before he rends her maidenhead into non-existence. They don’t show this part, but I imagine it was like two glistening blonde elk rutting in sweet ecstasy amidst the wildflowers. Yor wanders off. Kala finds Tarita lolling about in post-coital bliss. She tries to kill her, which turns into a rolling around cat fight. More of the blue cavemen attack at that moment, bashing in Tarita’s head. Kala suddenly loved her to pieces and is decorating her grave.
They venture onward to the ocean. We learn that it will take many days to reach the ocean. Approximately three seconds later, they arrive at the ocean.
Yor rescues some children from yet another tribe who are being attacked by another sketchy-looking dinosaur. As thanks, the father of one of the girls he rescues offers her to Yor. Yor doesn’t have to kill this tribe, laser beams from the sky do it for him.
This is where things get weird. Because they were totally normal up until now.
They take a boat to an island circled by storms. We learn that the world we’ve seen isn’t pre-historic at all. It’s post-historic! Or at least post-apocalyptic. His parents were apocalypse survivors. We meet the evil Overlord and his nefarious android army as well as a band of rebels seeking to overthrow the dastardly dictator. A battle ensues, with the Overlord’s facility being blown up and Yor escaping in a ship, headed back to live with the tribes and teach them peace with his superior intellect.
At least this explains why all of the various tribes spoke English.
I should mention that at no point does his supposedly superior intellect show itself. He slaughters both animals and humans with total impunity, bedding women as he pleases, and fights off the nuclear threat by BLOWING UP A STOCKPILE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. His main extraordinary talent, aside from killing things, seems to be his ability to glisten blondly on command.
Yor, the Hunter from the Future 35th Anniversary Edition is available now on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment.
I have received a sample copy to facilitate my review.