12/26/06

519 Outlaw

(1989, Fantasy-Sword & Sorcery, color)

Get out of here, you deeesssgustiiiingg wwwwuuuuueeeeooorrrmmmm!

Rating: ****

In a nutshell:

College professor Cabot is summoned to the clothing-impoverished fantasy planet of Gor.

Summary:

Queen Evil.Doughy loser Watney wanders a bar, trying to pick up big-haired women. Eventually he stumbles upon his friend Cabot, with whom he teaches at a local university. How do we know the man’s name is Cabot? Here’s a sample of one of Watney’s lines: “Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot? Cabot. Hey, Cabot! Cabot, Cabot, Cabot?”

Watney casts aspersions on Cabot’s sexuality and then whines him into taking them to a different bar. At one point he asks why Cabot never tries to pick up the women. Cabot gets a far away look in his eyes, looks down at his large flashing ring, and has a jarringly edited flashback to a previous film, when he dressed in leather and a loincloth, hung out with scantily-clad, big-haired women, and hacked people to death with a sword. This was the world of Gor.

Of course he doesn’t explain any of this until he and Watney are suddenly edited out of their car and into this sandy and clothes-optional world. Even then, the explanation has to be wheedled out of him (Cabot! Cabot? Cabot. Where are we Cabot? Cabot! Cabot, Cabot, Cabot? What’s going on Cabot? Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot…). Watney is forced to stop whining when random barbarian warriors attack them. Cabot pushes his annoying friend behind a bush and proceeds to deal out barehanded death while about two-dozen or so barbarians wait patiently in queue to attack him one by one.

Cabot defeats them, and a short time later he and Watney arrive at the local kingdom. Everyone on the streets recognizes him. (It’s Cabot! Cabot! Cabot! Cabot? It’s Cabot! Cabot, Cabot, Cabot? Cabot has returned my darling! Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot? Cabot! Cabot. Cabot! It’s Cabot! Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot…). Cabot meets his old friends the king and his beautiful daughter, as well as the evil queen and the evil high priest (played by Jack Palance). Our hero makes love to the princess and holds council with the elder, who summoned him because he believes that the queen and the high priest are in cahoots to kill the king and seize the kingdom. Cabot scoffs at such a notion, but agrees to keep an eye open anyway.

That night, the evil queen slips into Watney’s bedroom and offers him sex if he’ll help her frame Cabot for the king’s upcoming murder. The aroused Watney agrees; the next day the king is done in, and Cabot accused. Watney and the princess are thrown in jail while the elder sacrifices himself to allow Cabot to escape with his albino dwarf friend.

Newly in power, the queen and the high priest send out the Hunter to catch Cabot, and then immediately start bickering about everything, including how to kill their prisoners. They decide to make the princess fight for their amusement, pitting her against a pair of non-verbal women in leather halter-tops and briefs, armed with morningstars. This goes awry, as apparently she’s a warrior princess, and almost as adept at barehanded killing as Cabot.

Meanwhile, Cabot and his albino dwarf friend wander the desert and attack a slaver caravan. They set the whole thing on fire, but only manage to rescue one slave who, of course, is a beautiful young woman in a string bikini. She offers to pleasure her powerfully built rescuer, but Cabot refuses, citing a previous romantic attachment to the princess. They all fall asleep, and are easily captured by the enigmatic Hunter.

They arrive back in the kingdom, where the evil queen has buried some slaves alive while bickering with the high priest. Cabot goes to the dungeon, where the high priest tries to win him over with gruel, threats, and beatings. When the queen sees how he’s been treated, she throws the high priest out (You deeesssgustiiiingg wwwuuueeeeooorrrmmm!) and attempts a conciliatory seduction. When this fails, she falls back on the original plan of winning him over with threats and beatings.

The next day all of the good guys (even Watney for some reason) are thrust into a gladiator-style ring and made to fight men with tridents, swords, and loincloths. Watney and the albino dwarf huddle together at the back while Cabot takes them all barehanded. While this is going on, the high priest attempts to poison the queen, but she stabs him and throws the cup away. When the Hunter comes in to finish everyone off, Watney cries out that the queen was the one who killed her husband, and everyone believes him for some reason. The Hunter skewers her with his spear while Cabot yells “Freedom!” and flexes for the crowd.

The people must have been impressed, because Cabot marries the princess and is crowned king. Watney gets edited back to the modern world, where he wanders aimlessly down the middle of a busy street dressed in leather and metal studs (Cabot, Cabot, Cabot?) until someone finally has the presence of mind to arrest him.

Introduction:

Fabio fever!Mike and the ‘Bots are roughhousing. Mike gives Crow a horsey ride and then throws Tom high into the air. Tom gets stuck in the rafters.

Host Segment One:

Tom falls out of the rafters. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester has invented the Really Real Time Machine, which is certainly not just a changing booth with a cheap dial on the front of it. They start their journey back to caveman times, narrating their journey back through the decades while the dial turns. Up in the Satellite of Love, Mike and the ‘Bots have invented the Fabio Kit, including plastic muscled chests, jutting chins, and long blond wigs. Quoth they, “Fabio fever—catch it!” Gypsy notes how much they look like Fabio and laughs at them. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank emerge from their Really Real Time Machine in ancient dress—Dr. Forrester as a caveman, and Frank as Televisio Frankus of Roman Times. Caveman Forrester is disgusted at the disparity and stalks off screen. Frankus tries to quote Shakespeare, loses his place, and sends them the movie.

Host Segment Two:

Mike is easily convinced to show production photos of his extensive acting career. Every play he’s ever acted in has required him to wear a sailor suit, including Hamlet and Oh! Calcutta!

Host Segment Three:

Mike and the ‘Bots don straw hats and striped vests to sing a little song about the dress code (or lack thereof) in the film. It’s called, “Toobular Boobular Joy.”

Host Segment Four:

Mike and the ‘Bots read about the making of the movie out of Jack Palance’s (imaginary) book, Palance On Palance. It’s a diary-like production journal where every entry begins with him missing his call time due to a hangover.

Host Segment Five:

Mike and the ‘Bots declare that his movie contains more buffalo shots (i.e. accidental close-ups of nearly naked groins) than all of their previously viewed films put together, and introduce a rapidly edited video montage of uncomplimentary camera angles. Down in Deep 13, Caveman Forrester and Televisio Frankus dance cheek to cheek to a variety of musical styles.

Stinger:

Get out of here, you deeesssgustiiiingg wwwwuuuuueeeeooorrrmmmm!

Thoughts:

The Right Reverend Split-Top.The kingdom’s guards seem to have been hired for their malleability. So what if the king is lying in his own blood, the national hero stands accused (what was his name again? I can’t remember) and the new queen immediately orders them to imprison the accuser and the victim’s daughter. There’s nothing suspicious about that, is there? They refuse to harm the venerable and beloved elder, but if the queen wants to stab him herself, that’s perfectly okay. They switch sides pretty easily when Watney shouts the queen down at the end. Their motto seems to be “We’ll Fight To The Death For Whoever Talks Loudest.”

I’ve mentioned before how much I like sword and sorcery films, and no one quite does awful fantasies like the Italians. The country responsible for Cave Dwellers, Warrior of the Lost World, and all the Hercules films (Pumaman, Devil Fish, etc.) doesn’t skimp on epic post-apocalyptic/pre-civilization conflicts, though apparently they do skimp on special effects and costumes. But then, if objectification is your, um, object, you don’t really need much in the way of a wardrobe. Thankfully, the elderly Jack Palance remains fully dressed in a heavy, full-length robe and enormous bifurcated hat, but everyone else is costumed so that the scantily clad maidens are the most modestly clothed people in the kingdom. (At least nine tenths of the princess’s outfit consists of thigh-high disco boots and a flowing cape.) With costumes like these, it would have taken an expert cinematographer to avoid buffalo shots, and nothing about this film is expert. If you ever wanted to see multiple low-angle shots of an albino dwarf in a loincloth, then this is the movie for you.

The host segments are all well done. I enjoyed the roughhousing and the invention exchange (Gypsy’s reaction to the Fabio Kit is priceless), and it was funny to see Mike posing in his sailor suit, but my favorite host segment was the song, “Toobular Boobular Joy.” It’s unquotable, not because it’s offensive (unless you’re offended by such quasi-anatomical terms as “breasticalogical”) but because all the words are all invented, long, and sung so fast that I couldn’t move my pen fast enough to write them down. I thought the ending dance sequence was funny but inexplicable, until someone online pointed out that they’re still in their time-travel costumes, and the varying musical styles are from different time periods, thus moving them through time while they dance. It’s a little weird and more than a little subtle, but I’ll buy that explanation.

There’s plenty to mock in the film segments, and the Satellite crew makes the most of it. While Jack Palance works in his laboratory to make poisons, Tom says, “It’s time for the Brutal Gourmet.” Upon arriving at the palace, Crow announces the completion of “the world’s first successful papier-mâché village!” While the Hunter marches Cabot and his cohorts across the dunes, Tom calls it “The Bataan Nature Walk.” They take up the lengthy end credits about possible titles for salacious U.S.A. Network Original Movies, such as The Hawaii Edible Underwear Murders and The Cod-Police. It’s a brutal, senseless, mostly unclothed, and hilariously funny episode.