Gor is a fantasy film from the late '80s based on a series of novels, and it is, at heart, about two simple things: Nerd revenge fantasies, and man-taint. The former is exemplified by Gor's protagonist, who is little more than a grown-up version of that one kid on the playground who insisted he fought off a gang on the way to school, stole a car at lunch, and had a date with a Brazilian supermodel penciled in for that afternoon. And the latter is exemplified via long, affectionate camera pans across vast tundras of taint. Seriously, taint features so prominently in Gor that it probably got its SAG card for it.
Just so you know what you're getting into, right off the bat.
The movie opens on an awkward, stuffy, college Physics professor lecturing his students. Gor wastes no time with complicated set-up: The teacher's lecture is on the subject of Gor, a parallel earth with fantasy overtones, and the fact that it totally exists, because said professor's ring can take him there if the circumstances are just right. After dutifully scrawling down terms like 'counter-earth' and 'dimension stone' in preparation for the worst Physics test in history, the class stands up to file out. The professor intercepts his teaching assistant, a perky young blonde who doesn't seem to return his affections. This conversation really only serves to establish two things: The professor's main character trait, and his name. He is an uncertain man, lacking in confidence and not well respected by his peers. And his name is Tarl Cabot.
One of those things is probably responsible for the other.
"Hi, I'm Tarl! Why are you hitting me?".
The movie then executes a rapid-fire barrage of High School Movie Nerd stereotypes, as Tarl awkwardly word-jizzes all over the blonde for a few minutes, before she finally ditches him, and rides off with the cool jock instead.
Wait...weren't they just teachers? There's a cool jock college professor? What does he teach, Bullying 212?
This man is the 1980s.
Heartbroken and dejected, Tarl departs campus alone in his shitty Volvo. Before long, a mysterious storm comes upon him and, blinded by the rain, he rams his car into a tree. The camera pans slowly over the wreckage, until it reaches the driver's seat and we realize - he's not there! Tarl has been transported to the magical world of Gor! So...yeah, that's the mechanic we're working with here: Mystical caves, enchanted books, magical phrases - fuck 'em. The only way to trigger pan-dimensional teleportation to this world is in the airbag of a beat up 1960 Volvo PF544. And that's probably a fitting welcome to the lush fantasy world of Gor...
Where there are no epic set-pieces to distract you from all the impending Physics professor buttcheeks.
Tarl barely has time to take in his surroundings before a scream rips the air, and he spots some sort of commotion in the distance. A band of raiders, who look more like the event staff at Spartacus: Latex and Leather, are busy attacking a village in order to steal their Homestone, the soul of their community. Overseeing the massacre is the sinister Priest-King Sarm, pictured here with his elite warlords...
The Ministry of Silly Hats.
Eventually, one of the horsemen spots and pursues our hero. There's a good solid minute of Tarl spastically running in front of horses, tripping over nets, and flailing in panic, which is more than enough to unhorse and defeat several of the most skilled and vicious warriors of Gor. When the blood rage (and probably asthma attack) fades, Tarl is left wounded and unconscious, but has also killed the bandit's leader: The son of Priest-king Sarm.
He's a third degree black belt at the Jerry Lewis School of Fighting and Froinlavening.
When he awakens, Tarl is being tended to by a slave girl, Talena. Sluts, loincloths, vaguely ethnic women with giant hair - everything the '80s considered sexy is strapped onto some breast implants and set loose to do what she does best: Lust after khaki-clad, pasty nerdflesh, and find new and interesting ways to bend over.
Now, at this point, Gor has all the makings of a rather brilliant little comedy. The premise has a novel sort of potential: A modern day nerd sent back in time to engage in awkward shenanigans with a barbarian horde. But Gor is not a comedy, so instead of an hour of Tarl teaching hulking berserkers the importance of Calculus, we get the shortest, least believable training montage in cinema history.
The montage takes roughly thirty seconds, and consists of only two scenes: Tarl cowering away from a sparring session, then dodging thrown spears without looking, and Tarl fumbling with a quiver of arrows, then splitting them Robin Hood style. Even by the movie's time, he goes from power-nerd to elite warlord in just under an afternoon. To commemorate his entry into soldier-hood, Tarl is given his very own set of armor. It's just too bad all they had left were child's sizes. Girl child sizes.
Slutty girl child sizes.
A rapid-fire, disjointed series of adventure scenes then unfurl with no real point or purpose other than to fulfill generic fantasy conventions and blatantly pander to abused and lonely nerds: In order to pass as a slaver, the strong, proud female lead turns to Tarl and whispers "just remember to hold me, and treat me like a slave." The band stumbles across a bar hosting a Filthy Lesbian Wrestling night, which Talena of course has to participate in just a little too eagerly, and for just a little too long. Our heroes fight raiders; they get caught in quicksand; they acquire a dwarf.
Now take a good, long look at that screencap up there. Do you see what's coming next? You do? Well, fucking good for you. What do you want, a medal? Too bad, because all I have to offer you is dwarf taint.
Have you ever wanted my job? Have you ever thought to yourself: "Man, you talk about G.I. Joes and make dick jokes all day, that's awesome!" Well, now you see that, as with everything else, there is a dismal reality that goes hand in hand with the good stuff: Astronauts have to spend years barfing into their own facemasks before they go up in space, firemen hack up black grease every night, and internet writers spend half their days advancing frame by frame through '80s movies in order to capture the very best dwarf ass-ball connector shot possible. But hey, it's all right, because at least I have an excuse when my wife walks in on me screen-capping this veritable titty explosion here:
Though I should stress that in no way does this make up for the previous hour of under-balls.
Our heroes eventually sneak into the evil Sarm's citadel, nestled in the heart of the inhospitable Sardar mountains (ha ha, really, movie? Are those the ones in the city-state of Sarbar, across from the Sargarhar Sea, ruled over by the mighty council of Sarardarsarsar?) Once in the city, our heroes stand around for all of forty five seconds before being easily, easily captured. Now, remember at the beginning of the film, where Tarl accidentally killed Sarm's son through spaz-karate, and the evil ruler vowed revenge? Good for you!
The movie doesn't.
So instead of torture or beheading or something else suitably evil, the sinister Sarm instead throws a medieval swinger's party. Presumably, this is to woo Tarl over to the side of evil. But sometime between Sarm suggestively whispering "let me show you something" and then gesturing over to a parade of naked mimes...
And asking our hero to watch while he engages in bisexual make-out sessions...
Then dragging a slave girl over to him while screaming "please him! Please him! Please him well!" It becomes apparent that the villain has forgotten all about this 'murdered son' business, and is instead really buckling down and putting his nose to the grindstone on this whole 'facilitate nerd orgasms' thing he's got going on now.
But Tarl somehow resists the temptation to bang a slave while an elderly pervert and the cast of Cats watch, and escapes with a different slave girl instead. Count that: That's three subservient women who want nothing more than to please the pasty white guy with all of his sexy, sexy physics. As they flee down the hidden escape tunnel, Tarl and the new slave girl join up with Talena, and the next ten minutes are of Tarl expertly navigating a cave followed by two nubile, bikini-clad sex servants. That is the exact plot to a depressingly erotic game of Dungeons and Dragons I once played in 1992.
"I roll for initiative to touch her boobs!"
Unfortunately, the rest of Tarl's party gets turned around in the caves somehow, and they end up stumbling right back into enemy hands. After freeing all the rest of the slaves, stealing back the Homestone, and valiantly fighting off a dozen guards, Tarl returns to save his friends. Then this abruptly happens:
That's it. That is the entirety of the climactic fight scene. An arrow through the neck. It takes all of three seconds. Also, for even less reasons, this happens:
What the Jack Palance?!
Having never appeared for even a second of prior screen time, Jack Palance now tragically shows up in this film, mutters something ominous, and then just kind of wanders away, hopefully into a better movie.
Of course, now that the threat is over, Tarl and Talena are free to admit their true feelings. And with all the subtle eroticism one would expect from people whose chief sexual conquest is running a 7-of-9 Slash Fiction site, our screenwriters oblige: Talena turns to our turnip-headed hero and sultrily whispers "now that you have helped us break the bonds of slavery, we owe a...service to you.' To which Tarl replies: 'We can discuss that.' Then we SMASH CUT right to them fucking.
But what's this? The Homestone has begun to glow! Tarl stops mid-coitus to get up and fondle it, because even in fantasy, he understands more about geology than girls. He then inserts his ring into a hole on the stone, and is instantly transported back to his homeworld, presumably with the world's first case of pan-dimensional blue balls.
So wait, the activation trigger for the inter-dimensional portal is 'low speed traffic accidents' or 'soft-core humping'?
Is this a James Spader movie?
Back at the college, Tarl uses his newfound confidence to knock out the bully/teacher, and the blonde that previously rejected him promptly rushes into his arms for doing so. That's just good characterization right there: It's a well known fact that the two things women find most sexually irresistible are 'calculator watches' and 'punching their boyfriends.'
And on that note, one would expect Gor to end. It has done everything it set out to do: Everybody sure is sorry they picked on the nerdy math whiz, all the women lust after him now, an entire world worships him as a king - he's the undisputed best at both punching and humping, where else is there to go?
Ask Jack Palance, who suddenly reappears to give a strange diatribe that either bespeaks a sinister plan for world domination, or else is a clumsy ode to bagging slave ass.
"The key to this world lies within the slave girl's supple young body and - what? Shit, was I narrating that? Don't look at me! I can feel you judging me."
That's right: He's setting up a sequel. Because the realm of Gor was not just one hilarious misstep in the history of fiction. It is a rich and storied universe, inspiring a total run of twenty-nine novels, two movies, and even video games. And that, dear readers, is how I know that God is either dead, or else regards us with the curious cruelty of a child who burns ants: Firefly is canceled in less than a season, but the adventures of Tarl Cabot: Nerd Pathological Liar is a god damn epic saga.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook or you just tell your dad you have a date with the hottest girl in school, then ride your bike to the 7-11 to play Street Fighter for two hours instead.