Review Date: 2/3/18
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, Jack Palance, Oliver Reed, cameo by Arnold Vosloo
Tarl Cabot (Urbano Barberini) is a nerdy astro-physicist who is teaching a college class about magic gems and the existence of a "Counter-Earth." Wow. Just what kind of college is this? It's also strange that he looks younger than most of his students. Anyway, when he plans a romantic getaway with his girlfriend (who also happens to be a student of his), she proceeds to dump him because night clubs and shopping aren't involved. A girl's got to have her priorities, after all. Alone and depressed, Cabot gets in a car accident and his magic ring whisks him away to the planet Gor, where the evil priest-king Sarm (Oliver Reed) wages war in a bid for supreme power. Sarm holds the key to returning Cabot back to Earth, so Cabot and a warrior woman named Talena (Rebecca Ferratti) set out to defeat him. Jack Palance inexplicably gets third billing, and only shows up in the last five minutes to set the stage for a sequel.
The story obviously borrows heavily from Edgar Rice Burroughs's "John Carter Of Mars" adventures and Robert E. Howard's "Almuric." It's a good looking and well made production, and the desolate desert locations are breathtaking. Unfortunately, Cabot is so uninteresting and dislikable that he drags the entire film down, and the constant "stranger in a strange land" moments become quickly tiresome. Honestly, I think it would have worked better as just a straight-up sword-and-sandal barbarian picture, like "Conan The Barbarian" (1981). The science fiction element adds nothing and more often just breaks the cinematic immersion. On one occasion, Cabot uses his digital watch to blind an opponent, and on another his watch alarm gives away his location to the enemy. Cabot apparently owns the loudest digital watch in the known universe, as its beep can be heard over the din of horse hooves, marching feet, whips, and wailing slaves at a distance of thirty feet. The action scenes are disappointing and laughably weak, although Rebecca Ferratti makes a convincingly fierce warrior. Her tavern brawl is particularly impressive.
Speaking of Ms. Ferratti, she's by far the best reason to watch this mostly unremarkable outing. As a Playboy Playmate, fitness model, and martial arts practitioner, she fully commits to her role and looks absolutely stunning. She has an incredible body, flawless skin, an amazing face, soul-piercing eyes, commanding eyebrows, and gigantic untamed hair. She also wears a skimpy leather bikini throughout the entire picture, but somehow manages to make it work and not look totally ridiculous. She's pretty much every teenage boy's dream, and the film deftly capitalizes on her sex appeal, both as a savage warrior and as a submissive slave girl. While it has a PG rating and contains no nudity, the film has a strong undercurrent of sexual eroticism based on bondage, submission, and sadism, which can make it awkward and uncomfortable to watch at times. Overall, it's a moderately entertaining movie that strongly reflects the attitudes and sensibilities of the 1980's, but with a few tweaks to the story and dialog, it could have been something much greater.