Yor, the Hunter from the Future has been enjoying something of a cult renaissance, which delights me, as I was fortunate enough to catch this one in its original theatrical run back during my larval state in the early ‘80s. While a lot of ‘80s cinema is defined by a level of insanity that can only be achieved by mainlining raw neon off the hood of a Ferrari Testarossa that’s also somehow Brigitte Nielsen’s flattop, Yor manages to look that in the face, give its glorious rocker mullet an insouciant flip, and ask, “What else you got?”
Tagline: He is from a future world. Trapped in prehistoric times. Searching for his past. A hunter of incredible power and strength. In his quest for his origin, he and the woman he loves must fight hostile tribes. Battle deadly beasts. And try to survive the violent forces of a newly born Earth.
More Accurate Tagline: He’s the man.
Guilty Party: Noted Italian vulgarian Antonio Marghetti, credited here as “Anthony M. Dawson,” had a six decade career and never directed a single movie whose title you wouldn’t be embarrassed to tell your grandfather. Taking an Argentine graphic novel called Henga, el cazador, — which, I guess “Henga” is Spanish for “Yor” — he adapted it into a four part miniseries that was later turned into this. Calling it the best movie of his career is inaccurate. Calling it the best movie of anyone’s career is coming a little closer.
Synopsis: Yor (Reb Brown) enters this movie like he entered every room in the early ‘80s: mostly naked, covered in oil, and followed by his own cheesy theme song. He’s got everything a caveman superhero needs: a loincloth, some ragged boots, a big stone axe, a mysterious medallion hinting at Chosen One status, and Markie Post’s hairdo from the third season of Night Court.
Meanwhile, a pair of cavemen go hunting. There’s Pag, an old guy with a bow who turns out to be inexplicably awesome, because everything in Yor is inexplicably awesome, and Ka-Laa, a young cavewoman who looks like Adrienne Barbeau’s much hotter younger sister. They catch a baby pig in dinosaur makeup, but wouldn’t you know it, the thing’s mom shows up. This monster is some kind of Tricerastegatopsasaur, and it has needle sharp teeth because the creature creator was Napoleon Dynamite or something. The first thing the Tricerastegatopsasaur does is utterly annihilate its kid with an errant tail swipe. Good move there.
Yor prances in, jumps around like an asshole, and straight up owns the Tricerastegatopsasaur. Pag lets Yor know that he’s seen a medallion like Yor’s on a woman who lives with the desert people. She’s a daughter of the gods. “Sweet,” Yor thinks, chowing down on the monster meat and watching Ka-Laa belly dance.
Then some purple cavemen attack because the movie abruptly remembered it’s awesome. Yor gets knocked out, Ka-Laa gets taken hostage, and Pag wanders around looking grouchy like an Italian Wilford Brimley. Once Yor comes to, he decides that he is just not prepared to take any more shit, like, ever, and utterly crushes the purple caveman tribe. He was going to rescue the women of the village, but about halfway through decided to fuck everything until the end of time, and just drown everyone instead. Yor is so fucking metal, he’s basically just a guitar solo with a stone axe.
Then he wanders off to the desert with Ka-Laa and Pag in tow. Eventually he finds the diseased people, who have made a hostage/goddess out of Roa, the only other blond in the world. She’s from space or something. Who knows. Yor has never seen a civilization he wasn’t prepared to raze to the fucking ground for looking at him funny, and promptly does the same to the desert people, “rescuing” Roa along the way.
Roa decides she’s in love with Yor, and he’s no dummy. Even Pag tries to talk Ka-Laa into a sister wives situation. She’s not having it, and eventually tries to kill Roa. The remnants of the purple cavemen show up, and Yor kills them, but not before Roa dies. She gives her medallion to Yor and points him in the direction of an island castle she’s “suddenly remembered.”
Yor heads to the coast where he kills another dinosaur, and someone else tries to hand him a second wife. Yor’s like, “When did my life become a fire sale on bitches?” and turns the guy down. He’s got Ka-Laa, and that’s all Yor needs. Well, that, hairspray, baby oil, and civilizations to destroy. DING DING DING! I said “civilization” so it’s time for a little genocide! Only this time, it’s lasers coming out of nowhere, so shit’s getting weird. Yor isn’t even involved in this one. It’s like God is following him around.
Yor sails to this island and finds an entire civilization of Jim Carrolls, ruled by a creep in a cape calling himself Overlord, living in a giant power station or something. Overlord has an army of robots whose resemblance to Darth Vader I’m sure is purely coincidental. The Jim Carrolls are in revolt, and their leaders are Blind Ricardo Montalban and French Jenny Agutter. Anyway, Yor was the son of their rebel leader who got exiled, and now he’s back, so the rebellion is on.
As the theme song was so helpful in informing us, this is Yor’s world, and he’s the man. The rebellion is a success, and Yor flies off through fire in a goddamn spaceship with the Jim Carrolls to start a new civilization.
Which he will destroy because this is Yor we’re talking about.
Life-Changing Subtext: Only our Aryan superiors can rescue us from savagery!
Defining Quote: “Damn. Talking. Box!” Yor has found an artifact from the Jim Carrolls, but doesn’t get it. He knows he’s not having a single minute of it, though.
Standout Performance: If I give this to anyone but Reb Brown, I feel like he’s going to come back in time go full Zabka on me.
What’s Wrong: Nothing. Everything. This is 90 minutes of delirious ‘80s insanity, featuring cavemen, dinosaurs, robots, lasers, and of course nuclear war. Oh yeah, it’s a big plot twist that this is the far future after a nuclear war, but the fact that we’re in the future is given away right in the title.
Flash of Competence: Yor, the Hunter from the Future is unconcerned with such prosaic concepts as “competence.”
Best Scenes: When Yor wrecks shop on the purple cavemen, he destroys one of their bridges. The cavemen sensibly have a backup bridge. Also, I’m overselling “bridge” a bit here. It’s a ladder held together by dried eels and poop or something. Anyway, this exact thing happens to Yor at the end of the movie in Overlord’s base. Does Overlord have a second bridge? He does not.
What he has is a fucking trapeze. Yor swings across, and that’s fine, because we’re talking about Yor, a man so virile that 50% of the women who watched this later gave birth to arm wrestling. Then he’s stuck, because the wire went to the other side, and Yor doesn’t really get how pendulums work. Well, Pag to the rescue. Pag swings over like it ain’t no thang, and halfway over, just flips over to hold the goddamn trapeze with this withered old man legs and catches Yor with his hands.
Pag was sitting on some Cirque du Soleil-level shit this whole time.
Transcendent Moment: I glossed over exactly how Yor mounts his rescue for Ka-Laa. You were probably thinking, “Well, it’s Yor, so maybe he sneaked in or just charged the front door.” You can be forgiven for thinking that, because the level of awesome Yor employs just getting from place to place doesn’t even have a word for it.
Yor sees a giant bat flying around, and thinks to himself, “Well, fuck that thing. Fuck everything,” and then the theme song starts rattling through this head and he knows he’s on the clock. He needs to do something that’ll be commemorated on the sides of vans for all eternity.
He fells the giant bat with a single arrow and literally the only thing that’s surprising is nothing is on fire. The thing isn’t quite dead yet so Yor just punches it over the threshold, and when that monster gets to giant bat heaven, it’s going to march right up to Bat St. Peter and be like, “Dude, you will not believe what just happened to me.”
Yor isn’t done yet. He picks up the bat’s carcass, and suddenly the theme song isn’t just in Yor’s head. No, it’s blaring on the soundtrack, telling us this is “Yor’s world,” and “he’s the man,” two useless pieces of information because this motherfucker is hang gliding on a giant bat corpse to double-kick a caveman in his goddamn stupid purple face.
Even typing that sentence made my balls grow balls.
Yor, the Hunter from the Future is a must see for anyone who likes anything, really. This is Yor’s world, after all. And he’s the man.
He’s the maaa-aan.