As a child barely seven years of age, I saw this delightful and highly influential piece of trash in the theater when it was released out into the world in 1983. It’s one of my earliest movie memories and gives proof to the notion that there is no film so awe-inspiringly awful that it will not still beat the pants off the outdoors during an Indiana summer. Attendance wasn’t by design, mind you. My mom was out running errands and had made the classic mistake of taking her young children with her instead of leaving them alone in the house to fend off potential burglars, and she was desperate to get out of the heat. The timing was fortunate, in a way, I’m not even sure air conditioning had been invented before the 80’s.
The plot is one of those predictable Hollywood formulas we’ve seen time and again. There’s a caveman type with an amulet named Yor, who kills dinosaurs and swoops around on a giant dead bat, which he killed with his bare hands, and which he uses to save one of only two attractive women on the entire planet. Soon they encounter the other lovely young woman, differentiated by being blonde and without a perm, who has an amulet exactly like Yor’s and arouses much antipathy from the brunette. One slut-shames the other, some cruel jabs about body dysmorphia are thrown out and the two scantily clad vixens quickly come to blows over their man. This seemingly sexist drivel is clearly a scathing post-modernist critique of gender roles and representations in film, an early shout out to the purveyors of the Bechdel test.
And then the spaceships show up and start blasting everything with giant lasers. Yor and company learn the not completely original truth to the world and then it’s on to overthrow the overlord of the heretofore unmentioned android army. Our bad guy’s name is Overlord, just as a FYI. Running, fighting, gymnastics, triumph and then Yor is off in a spaceship to protect the primitive peoples from whence he came. I myself would have taken the opportunity to see battles on the shoulder of Orion or learn what c-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate look like, but whatever, to each their own, it all turns into tears in rain eventually anyway.
The immortal line of dialogue in the film comes early, during a furious battle with a dinosaur and can be heard at the very end of this clip.
It’s pretty clear to me we’re dealing with a triceratops and it’s a well-known fact passed down through the ages from father to son that the best cut is in the rump of the great beast, but what of the rest? Where will Yor and his ill-fated followers slice into in order to harvest all that sweet, sweet dinosaur meat? I assume there was a butchering scene that fell victim to the cutting room floor, though I can’t seem to find an early version of the script to corroborate my theory. It took some doing, but I finally tracked down an expert who could give me the answers I so desperately needed so I might finally have some peace and a decent night’s sleep.
A bit of a self-proclaimed recluse, she was initially skeptical of my sincerity, but a combination of relentless enthusiasm and half a turkey sandwich eventually won her over. She was kind enough to share her findings and even let me photograph this diagram she had drawn following years of painstaking research into the subject.
Here we can plainly see not only why Yor was so excited, but also why he needs some assistance. Too much good stuff. It’s hard to know where to begin and you’d hate for any to go to waste. Ham, bacon, tenderloin, flank, loin chops, foie gras, hot dog parts. Who could ever be a vegetarian in the Mesozoic Era?