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  Gor Budding Barbarian
Year: 1987
Director: Fritz Kiersch
Stars: Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, Jack Palance, Paul L. Smith, Oliver Reed, Larry Taylor, Graham Clarke, Janine Denison, Donna Denton, Jennifer Oltman, Martina Brockschmidt, Ann Power, Arnold Vosloo, Chris du Plessis, Ivan Kruger
Genre: Action, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: College professor Tarl Cabot (Urbano Barberini) is lecturing his students on a world he calls Counter-Earth and about the ring he uncovered which he believes can transport the wearer there, but they have difficulty taking him seriously and the session ends with him feeling defeated. This is far from helped when he leaves to go to his car and meet his girlfriend only to find she isn't interested in accompanying him to his countryside retreat and prefers to go off with another man who is more prepared to take her to a nightclub. So off Cabot goes alone for the break, but a storm blows up and he crashes into a tree - when he awakes, the ring has had a strange effect...

That's right, it has transported him Wizard of Oz style to the land of Gor, a place which is in another dimension or something, but looks remarkably like a few stretches of desert and rocks from here on Earth. This was of course based upon one of the Gor novels by John Norman, the slave girl-obsessed series notorious for its dubious attitude to females, although to make it more palatable for general audiences that aspect was significantly toned down, so much that while there are slaves mentioned, they don't make up the focus of the plot. In its place is a narrative virtually interchangeable from any number of eighties sword and sorcery flicks.

Yes, this type of thing really took off in that decade, with Conan the Barbarian leading the charge of musclebound men with a firm grip on the shaft of their swords, if not on the niceties of twentieth century etiquette. Most of these efforts were not blessed with the quality of budget that the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie had, so were reduced to fitting out their cast in loincloths and plastic armour, plonking them down in some suitably desolate (and cheap) location and getting them to pretend to knock seven bells out of one another. In spite of the volume of such productions, you'd be hard pressed to find many fans, although they did clog up the video store shelves for a while.

Gor itself has few fans, mainly because those who want to see it are those who enjoyed the books, and when they realise what has been done to them in the name of entertainment they are none too happy about it. If you were unaware of the source, then you could be forgiven for simply viewing this as a generic hack and slay action movie, because that's pretty much what it is, no better and no worse than countless others. What this did have to distinguish it was the presence of a slumming Oliver Reed, who by this time was having trouble securing roles in films that did justice to his talents; in spite of the fact that he could have simply phoned his performance in, he manages to be fairly amusing as the chief villain.

Although he does suffer being billed under Jack Palance - nothing wrong with that you might think, except that Palance appears third in the credits and only for a couple of minutes in the actual film, merely showing up as a prelude to his starring role as the main baddie in the hastily manufactured sequel. As this was a Cannon production, the workmanlike air never leaves Gor, and you could have probably identified it as the work of this company even if it doesn't feature any shootouts and anonymous henchmen falling from a height with an "Argh!". That said, there is a notable amount of grunting going on from the cast, as to prevent boredom - although actually more likely to engender boredom - there's a fight scene every five minutes. Cabot gets a girlfriend in the shape of Rebecca Ferratti, whose enormous hair might have been the reason the ozone layer was of so much concern at this time, but really sex doesn't factor into this other than some light S&M. Mostly it's about those swordfights... grunt, oof, gaah...
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Fritz Kiersch  (1951 - )

B-movie director whose first film was the Stephen King adaptation Children of the Corn. Also made the fantasy romp Gor and teen drama Tuff Turf, with James Spader.

 
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