Gor was the first of two film versions of the books made by Israeli producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. It was one of several sword-and-sorcery films that Golan, Globus and their Cannon distribution chain made during the 1980s, along with the likes of Hercules (1983), Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1983), The Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1985), The Barbarians (1987), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989). All of these were cheaply produced and Gor is no exception. A clearly impoverished Oliver Reed has been employed as the bad warlord and seems to be having fun. Jack Palance is given top billing along with Oliver Reed but only turns up for a cameo of less than a minute at the end. The director employed was Fritz Kiersch, who had previously made the adaptation of Stephen Kings Children of the Corn (1984) but has done nothing of any distinction since.
Gor looks for all the world like a cheap mid-1980s Italian sword-and-sorcery film it could easily have been mistaken for one of the Ator series. (It has clearly been shot in Italy, as most of Golan-Globuss sword-and-sorcery films were it is dubbed with flat Italian voices and features several Italian actors, including the blank and inexpressive Urbano Barberini filling the role of John Normans hero/alter ego professor-turned-barbarian-hero Tarl Cabot). Some might argue that the books are at least getting a filmic treatment that replicates John Normans writing style. On the plus side, it all proves entertainingly vigorous. The film only adapts John Normans first book so the emphasis is more on sword-and-sorcery adventure than the slavery. Despite the pornographic content of the books, the film is chaste there are numerous leather and scantily clad women but no nudity or sex scenes.
The low-budget makes an attempt to portray a barbarian culture with a degree of verisimilitude, although being the Cannon B-budget that it is, this never extends to the portrayal of any of the numerous non-humanoid species that inhabit Gor in the books (the film, for instance, has been forced to abandon the full title of the book it adapts, Tarnsman of Gor, because the budget does not extend to the depiction of the tarns giant birds that the hero masters and learns to fly into battle). There is some good costumery and an energetically cheap cod-John Williams score.
Fritz Kiersch showed glimmerings of style in Children of the Corn, although does not do a very good job of coordinating the swordfights here. However, where he does do well is in conjuring the essence of John Normans writing the world of barbarism and slavery, with scenes of slave girls chained-up dancing or being made to wrestle, barbarians partying amid taverns and throne rooms lit in fiery lighting, a brutish warlord played by Paul L. Smith of Midnight Express (1978) fame beating everybody around him with his fist, and a nasty branding scene. If nothing else, the film cannot be accused of not approximating the essence of its source work.
The sequel, shot back-to-back with this, was Outlaw of Gor (1989). This was also produced by Golan-Globus, and featured return performances from Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti and Jack Palance as the main villain, although had a different director.
Full film available online here:-