The early 1980s brought with it many marvels in the world of film, including a swarm of trend-setting horror, science fiction, and fantasy films ‒ the likes of which still inspire filmmakers to this day. Naturally, such a surge in genre fables did not go unnoticed in countries like Italy, where imitation was considered the sincerest form of infringement-worthy flattery. But just simply copying the premise of one popular American (or Australian) flick in particular was too easy of a task for certain Italian exploitation filmmakers, leading them to mash various movies (and genres) together in order to make something wholly unique.
One such title is Antonio (Web of the Spider) Margheriti's Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983). A bastardized amalgamation of Conan-inspired prehistoric fun fused with the then-current trend of wild post-apocalyptic rides, Yor tells the far-fetched tale of a prehistoric-era barbarian (cult movie hero Reb Brown, who also played Captain America in the 1979 TV movie of the same name). The opening credits feature Yor parading around some very phallic-shaped rocks in Turkey, as the lyrics of the amazing synth-heavy theme song from Guido and Maurizio De Angelis proudly rocks out lyrics like "Yor's world, he's the man!" and "There is a man from future [sic], a man of mystery" in beautiful, broken English.
After saving Corinne Clery (Moonraker, The Devil's Honey) and Luciano Pigozzi (aka Alan Collins) from a very lame dinosaur critter thingy, Yor (Brown) discovers his destiny includes more than just butchering papier-mâché beasties and shouting (something Mr. Brown seems to do in all of his films, much to the delight of fans). In fact, Yor and Co. soon learn their prehistoric world is actually a post-nuclear one under the corrupt rule of the evil Overlord (Tenebrae's John Steiner, committing one of the most outrageous over-the-top performances ever captured on film), who reigns supreme in an island power plant surrounded by mini Darth Vader-like death robots recycled from an(other) Italian Star Wars rip-off, The Humanoid.
Inspired by an Argentinean comic, Yor, the Hunter from the Future was initially filmed as a four-part miniseries for Italian television known as Il mondo di Yor (or, roughly translated into English, Yor's World), before being assembled into a 98-minute theatrical cut for audiences beyond the airwaves of Italy. Strangely enough, Columbia Pictures snatched up the unbelievably silly title for general release in the US, shortening the film's already condensed runtime by an additional ten minutes. The weird gamble paid off, however: the guilty pleasure grossed several million bucks at the box office, becoming one of Signori Margheriti's biggest international successes in the process.
In the years following its 1983 domestic release, Yor has gone from being one of those movies every video store had on its shelf (which very few people ever rented) to a beloved cult classic (mostly thanks to those of us who actually did rent it on videocassette). In 2011, Sony issued the 88-minute US cut of the film as part of its MOD DVD-R service, which prompted a bit of celebrating amongst fans. Now, thanks to the folks at Mill Creek Entertainment, you can "enjoy" everything Yor, the Hunter from the Future has to offer in High-Definition, with this very affordable, budget Blu-ray release of the film, which the company has labelled as a 35th Anniversary Edition (complete with a slipcover!).
Naturally, being a budget BD release, the MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encode of this title may leave a bit to be desired from the more snobbish connoisseurs of classic Eurotrash flicks (yeah, the irony there is not lost on me, either). But that should not deter any fan from purchasing this one, as the 1.78:1 transfer is undoubtedly the best the film has ever looked. Likewise, the accompanying uncompressed LPCM 2.0 soundtrack of the English-dubbed soundtrack (thank you, Nick Alexander) presents us with something above-average. Mill Creek has also included the original US theatrical trailer of the film, but the crowning glory to be had (or rather, heard) here is an all-new audio commentary with Yor himself, Mr. Reb Brown!
Though it may lack the sometimes necessary presence of a moderator, this solo effort by Mr. Brown nevertheless makes for a fascinating, funny, and insightful track. Reb obviously had a great time making the film (performing many of his own stunts throughout; a noticeable exception, of course, being an instance where Margheriti obviously uses action figures!), and his affectionate reminiscing makes for a great (if sometimes dry) listen throughout. I was particularly pleased to hear Reb fondly discuss late Italian character actor Luciano Pigozzi (who can also be seen, briefly, in Arrow Video's recent Blu-ray release of Pulp starring Michael Caine), who became something of a father figure to him during his years spent making movie in Italy.
Even if Yor, the Hunter from the Future doesn't happen to be one of your personal favorites (and I'm looking at you, Steve!), the fact a budget label like Mill Creek went the extra mile to record an audio commentary for the film with its lead performer is something to respect. And with a general price tag well below the MSRP of $14.98, even those of you who have only heard about the film in passing can't afford to miss out on a magnificent release such as this.