So Bad it’s Netflix #7: GOR

So what if the only Scorsese movie Netflix Streaming offers is Last Temptation of Christ? Who cares if their Spielberg collection consists of Amistad, Hook and 1941? What Netflix does have in abundance is garbage. It’s time to surrender and celebrate it. This isn’t so bad it’s good… this is so bad it’s Netflix. 

Sword, Rape & Sorcery!” 

“Ya can’t have one without the other!”

When John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian came out in 1982 I was 13 and already a huge Conan comic book fan. It’s a bit surprising the film was such a hit, since R-rated fantasy films are usually so hard to sell and Conan was certainly not concerned with pleasing young filmgoers. The movie really effected me; it was brutal, very sexual and pretty frightening at times. I wore my Conan T-shirt proudly to a few Boston comic conventions back in the day. At one con I bought issue #1 of Conan the Barbarian for fifty dollars. By “I”, I mean my dad bought it for me, as I was somehow able to convince him it was a good investment. Time would prove me right; twenty years later it was worth seventy five dollars. By my calculations, that’s a pure profit of one hundred and fifty percent!

Perhaps we can all agree that Conan was the only Barbarian film the world would ever need. When the sequel, Conan the Destroyer, came out in ’84, I begged my dad to take me since it wasn’t even playing at a theatre near me; the stink on it was that bad. After two weeks, Destroyer was gone from theaters and my dad had successfully prevented me from seeing it. I owe the man my life.

Let’s look at a Barbarian film that should not, under any circumstances, be written about.


GOR (1987)

Audiences might be more familiar with Gor II: Outlaw of Gor, than the first Gor, since the sequel was featured in a 1993 episode of MST3K. Alas, I was forced to experience the original Gor sans funny commentary. Never in a million years would anyone watch this Italian-made swill and think, “I bet there’s an incredibly popular series of books that this monstrosity was based on.” Well, wake up! Written by John Norman, an American philosophy professor, the Gor books have sold millions of copies worldwide.


The first book, Tarnsman of Gor, came out in 1966 and since then an astounding thirty two more novels have been published. However, we can rejoice knowing the film series was smothered in its infancy after just two entries. I guess Gor is considered sci-fi since it takes place on another planet, but the dumb planet Gor is just a barren desert where people like to wear skimpy rags, wield swords and sell slave women (more on that later). In other words, we’re talking Barbarian bullshit, straight up.


BARBERINI_2_NO PANTSUrbano Barberini, the blond, Italian beanpole, stars as Tarl Cabot, a nerdy professor who is transported to Gor with the help of a magic ring. On Gor, Tarl is turned into a fierce warrior and helps the peaceful kingdom of Koroba defeat an evil army led by Sarm (Oliver Reed). Basically, poor Barberini is paid to walk around pants-less with his ass hanging out. Disgraziano!
The movie doesn’t bother with showing exactly how Tarl gets to Gor; in one shot we’re on Earth, next we’re on Gor and that’s that. It’s like the filmmakers are yelling at the audience, “Look- we don’t have the fuckin’ money to tell this story properly- deal with it, assholes!” Even Netflix is confused by Gor; their short plot synopsis says Tarl is “somehow transformed into an otherworldly warrior.” The word “somehow” really explains the whole movie.
Let’s go to the So Bad it’s Bullet Points!


  • “Just Run Around!”


According to me, this was the only direction given to the actors and extras for the action scenes.

  • Gor on the Rape Scale

When you’re living in the dark ages, the threat of rape is around every boulder. Although there isn’t any actual rape in Gor, there are plenty of women in chains. In fact, the slave girl imagery in Gor comes straight from the books. Author John Norman took a lot of flak for his tendency to put his lady characters in shackles. Norman once blamed his books’ dip in sales on a vague feminist literary conspiracy. According to Wikipedia, eight of the thirty three Gor novels feature a slave woman as the narrator. Norman loved the dominant/submissive part of the Barbarian lifestyle so much he wrote a how-to book about it. Imaginative Sex, which came out in paperback in 1974, was a guide for couples on how to spice things up with fantasy and role-playing. The book was intended to promote sexual freedom but apparently most of the fantasies in Imaginative Sex place the male in the dominant role while the female is often helpless. Norman’s creepy fetishes are up there on screen for us all to enjoy, so kudos to the creepy filmmakers for truly respecting the source material.


  • Who is More Unhappy on Planet Gor: Jack Palance or Oliver Reed?


Answer: Palance, by a mile. Reed looks like a pig in shit.


Both Urbano Barberini and Rebecca Farrati, who played the warrior princess, Talena, were miraculously able to keep their careers afloat post-Gor. Barberini appeared in the Bond reboot, Casino Royale. Farrati, in the role of “Sexy Woman,” got to blow Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Next Week: Galaxy of Terror