From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Films of High Adventure: Yor, the Hunter from the Future

For close to a year now, we (meaning Jesse Bullington and Molly Tanzer) have been re-watching old fantasy and adventure films that influenced one or both of our respective childhoods and blogging about whether or not, for us, they withstand The Test of Time. So far we’ve done, among others, The Company of Wolves, Legend, and Blade Runner. They say that every dog has his day, and so we go into Mr. Bullington’s private kennel to review a film that. . . well, I don’t even know what to say. It is a film. It is about the future. It is about. . . YOR!

Film: Yor: The Hunter from the Future (1983)

WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? Direction by Antonio Margheriti AKA Anthony Dawson AKA Anthony M. Dawson, a man responsible for countless cinematic crimes against humanity. Screenplay by Margheriti and Robert Baily, who worked on Blade Runner…doing matte photography. Based on a graphic novel by Ray Collins and Juan Zanotto, a copy of which has sadly evaded us despite our best efforts (Molly says: “us?”). Soundtrack by brothers Guido and Maurizio de Angelis, AKA Oliver Onions—they seem to have only done one track, the monster ballad “Yor’s World,” but recorded two different versions with different lyrics (“Yor’s world, he’s the man!” remains the chorus on both versions, thankfully) and then slowed it down, removed the vocals, and otherwise tinkered with it to provide the rest of the film’s music. Undeniably spectacular acting by Corrine Clery (The Story of O, opposite Udo Kier—cue Ren and Stimpy-style scream/wolf howl with a close up of Kier), Carole Andre (Death in Venice—nice!), longtime Margheriti collaborators Luciano Pigozzi (AKA Alan Collins, who you’ll recognize from absolutely fucking nothing unless you’re a fan of Italian schlock) and John Steiner (who had a bit part in Caligula before deciding that if he was destined for a career in camp he might as well head for warmer climes and delicious foreign scenery), and a multitude of Italian and Turkish extras running around in terrible, terrible costumes. Are we forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, only Yor, the Hunter from the Fucking Future, played with a quiet elegance and simmering sexuality by Reb Brown (Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf AKA Howling II: Stirba—Werewolf Bitch).

Quote: “You know, Kai, I’ve been thinking about that bird of fire that fell from the heavens.”

Alternate quote: “Throw him off the cliff! Hurry! The gods must be appeased with fresh blood!”

Alternate alternate quote (really, we could fill up the whole column with these but we’ll restrain ourselves): “We’ll need a lot more hemp before we’re through.”

Alternate alternate alternate quote, about Yor, from Molly’s husband John: Yor is awesome, but lots of things that are awesome are not very good at all.

First viewing by Molly: A few years ago, on Jesse’s laptop, under extreme duress, AKA (had enough of those yet?) Jesse saying “I’ll make chili and provide booze if you watch this movie with me.”

First viewing by Jesse: In the cradle.

Most recent viewing by both: Last week.

Impact on Molly’s childhood development: (laughs)

Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Monumental. Supreme. Just…huge. We had a betamax copy growing up and I watched it religiously. I learned how to use a VCR even before I learned to walk solely so I could watch Yor fight the blue monkey men and dinosaurs and robots and oh my fucking god if this is a false idol I don’t want to be true. I mean, just behold the following, and realize with eyes full of wonder at the magical effects and ears full of joy at the dialogue that this is the first scene in the movie.

Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:

Molly’s thoughts prior to re-watching: I made Jesse do the D&D movie so it seemed appropriate penance (Jesse splutters unintelligibly at the cheek of that goddamn insinuendo—as if D&D could touch Yor!). Also, the majority of the film was shot on location in Turkey, where I lived for six months while I was in college, so I knew I’d at least get to pause it and wax nostalgic about Kappadokia (so, this opening scene? When Yor comes out of that little hole? That’s an awesome church, and I’ve been there) and the Basilica Cistern. So I knew that aspect of re-watching it, at least, would be fun, because as everybody knows, nothing is more wonderful than being held essentially hostage by an old lady hell-bent on drunkenly talking about how she studied abroad and saw some stuff that one time. Woo!

Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: It is always, always, always Yor Time—I do try to space out my viewings to once every few years to avoid oversaturation, but, really, I can’t foresee a circumstance where someone would be like, “Mr. Bullington, would you care to screen the film Yor?” and I would turn them down. It just wouldn’t happen. This movie is so fucking badass I find myself at a loss for words, other than f-bombs and synonyms for “perfect.” This movie is goddamn immaculate.

Well, ok, no, it’s actually awful, just, really, startlingly bad. But I love it the way good parents love their children, even when their children are disgusting little trolls. When I was a kid this was of comparable quality to me as the original Star Wars movies. I was obviously wrong, but when you’re five years old little things like good writing, direction, acting, effects, music, and so on factor far less than the inclusion of both dinosaurs and robots, to say nothing of blue monkey men (Molly says, yet again, that THEY ARE PURPLE MONKEY MEN) and laser guns and mummy-lepers with flaming swords. By Yor’s Glistening ‘Tocks, just thinking about this movie is making my heart rate increase.

Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: I…I can’t even. I’ve now seen Yor all the way through twice, but I’ve not yet been able to do it sober, so even though it’s fresh in my mind, I can’t tell you anything about it. I am pretty sure it is about a blonde guy in a loincloth who goes around doing stuff, and is affable enough but tends to fuck up everything, and then maybe discovers he’s actually from this other race of people who use laser guns and computers that look even more like cardboard boxes full of Christmas lights than the computers in the old Avengers TV series (that whole episode’s the jam, bee tee dubs), but maybe not? Wait. . . OK yeah, I just checked the wiki entry, and it seems I’m correct.

I should, by all accounts, really love Yor [Jesse says: YES] And I do I enjoy it on many levels, but for some reason it doesn’t hit me the same way that, say, Barbarella does [Jesse says: WHAT NO NO NO]. There’s no rational reason for this—Yor smashing a prop that is supposed to be a piece of advanced technology and saying “Damn talking box!” is no more or less worthy than Barbarella being harnessed to an ice manta-ray by twin proto-Emily the Stranges and proclaiming “but I haven’t skied in ages! Yor himself is no better or worse a blond loincloth-sporting dude in a bad sci-fi movie than the guy who plays Pygar. And yet. There’s something almost too hallucinogenic about Yor, which makes sense, given that it was apparently cobbled together from four television episodes. Barbarella, by contrast, seems more self-aware of its own horribleness, and that goes a long way with me. Also, Barbarella is not really about cavemen, and cavemen are just one of those things I tend to be pretty darn meh about. That said, Yor is hella fun, and sort of hypnotically awful. I’d recommend it—and not just to people I want to punish for something [Jesse says: that is the nicest you have ever been to this movie, and I thank you for your kindness. Such as it is.].  

Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: It never gets old. Just…never. From the moment the movie starts, a feeling of tranquility and bliss settles on the viewer as the completely insane theme song Molly linked to above begins. For posterity, let’s take a look at the lyrics of said song:

Yor’s World, he’s the man! Yor’s World, he’s the man! Yor’s World!
Lost in the world of past, in the echo of ancient blast. Yor’s World!
There is a man of future, a man of mystery. Yor’s World!
No tribe to lead the way, in his search for a yesterday. Yor’s World!
Misty illusions hiding, his famous destiny. Yor’s World!

Yor, the touch of fire. Yor the proud and free desire.
He never sees the sun (Molly says: buh?), he’s always on the run, him and his days are gone.
They say he will go on, his search goes on and on.
Yor’s World! He’s forsaken the name! Yor’s World! And the world was like fire!

He’s gonna make all the wild things look tame tonight, in his fight!
Yor’s World, he’s the man! Yor’s World, he’s the man!

Yor’s World! He’s forsaken the name! Yor’s World! And the world was like fire!
Yor’s World! On the sun there’s a soul (Jesse says: even the site I ganked these lyrics from had ??? in parentheses after that crazy fucking line)! Yor’s World! And the world was like fire!
Yor’s World! He’s forsaken the name! Yor’s World! And the world was like fire!

Poetry. Poetry that is almost as stupid as Legend’s theme song “Loved by the Sun,” but poetry nonetheless.

One of the most satisfying elements about the film is that for being a well-intentioned dude trying to make his way in the world of yesterday (Molly adds: OR…TOMORROW?!), Yor utterly destroys everyone and everything he comes into contact with. Unlike most movies of this ilk, the protagonist isn’t a savior, he’s a destroyer of worlds (because, really, you can’t talk about Yor without also referencing that inferior monomyth, the Bhagavad-Gita). Individuals are either compelled to love and follow him, constantly remarking on how perfect he is (sample exchange—Ka’Laa: “why is Yor different from other men?” Pag: “I am also curious.”) or they are totally fucking ruined by the encounter, with whole civilizations and ecosystems crumbling upon his arrival.

This doesn’t just apply for the bad guys, either, like the leper-mummies of the Poison Lands or the Overlord’s totalitarian society, but also every single village of cavepeople nice enough to take Yor in. When an entire population of innocent women is captured by the blue monkey men (immediately following Yor’s arrival in town, of course), Yor busts in, steals back the one lady he’s interested in, and then floods the whole cave system, annihilating the blue monkey men, sure, but also wiping out every single prisoner of war. When Yor shows up at a beach town and ingratiates himself with their leader (picking up another wife in the process—nice!), said town is promptly razed to the ground in a truly absurd fashion. And it just goes on and on—I beheld a blond horse, and Hell followed with him.

High Points: Everything—in a quiet, Gary Oldman kind of way, followed, of course, by: EV!ERY!THING! Really, you’ll know in the first five minutes if this is going to be your sort of thing, and if it’s not, well, just piss off back to the cave with the mysterious object and talk a bunch of weak with the blue monkey men about how good things are actually bad and stuff. As an example, I submit the following:

SCENE: A windswept LEDGE overlooking the CAVE OF THE BLUE MONEKY MEN. Hidden on the LEDGE are YOR (strapping Aryan god-man) and PAG (pudgy little goaty man/sidekick). They survey the CAVE MOUTH, plotting a way to rescue KA’LAA (Yorstruck cavewoman). There is a noise above, and we cut to A CRAPPY BAT-MONSTER PUPPET.

PAG: A beast of the night!

YOR: (snatches Pag’s bow, shoots the CRAPPY BAT-MONSTER PUPPET out of the sky, punches it to death, and then…)

Shit, wait, sorry:

The case, ladies and gentlemen, is rested.

Final Verdict: Guilty of being the best thing of any type in any era on any planet ever.

Next Time: With the relaunch of Fantasy Magazine imminent, our tenure here at this fine publication draws to a close with what will be our final installment in February. Rather than spoiling the surprise outright, however, we’re just advising everyone to stock up on Zagnut bars in anticipation…

Jesse Bullington is the author of the novels The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and the upcoming The Enterprise of Death, and his short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in ChiZine, Brain Harvest, Jabberwocky, and several anthologies, including Running with the Pack and The Best of All Flesh. He lives in Colorado and can be found online at www.jessebullington.com.

Molly Tanzer is the Managing Editor of Fantasy Magazine and Lightspeed. Her fiction appears in Running with the Pack and Palimpsest, and is forthcoming in Historical Lovecraft and Crossed Genres. The account of her playing minigolf with zombie band The Widow’s Bane can be found at Strange Horizons. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and a very bad cat. You are welcome to visit her any time over at her blog.