Fabulously over-the-top sci-fi romp Flash Gordon has just got a 30th anniversary re-release on Blu-ray. A galactic flop on release, producer Dino De Laurentiis and director Mike Hodges’ 1980 movie was as tacky as bubblegum – and so managed to lodge itself firmly to the shiny sole of pop culture.
With gaudy sets and costumes by Fellini’s favourite designer Danilo Donati and ultra-camp performances throughout, this is a film that positively revels in its cheesiness yet stays true to the goofy spirit of Alex Raymond’s original 1930s comic strip and the old matinee serials starring Buster Crabbe.
Similarly faithful, the story finds quarterback Flash Gordon, travel agent Dale Arden and brilliant scientist Hans Zarkov making a perilous rocket flight to the planet Mongo to save Earth from evil alien emperor Ming the Merciless.
Former Playgirl centerfold Sam J Jones makes a rather bland Flash, it must be said, and Melody Anderson is equally insipid as Dale, but Max von Sydow twinkles villainously as Ming and Ornella Muti, unforgettable in figure-hugging red spandex, is wickedly sexy as his pervy daughter.
More depravity is supplied Peter Wyngarde (of Department S and Jason King fame) and Mariangela Melato as Ming’s generals, while the forces of good are represented by Timothy Dalton, dashing about as an Errol-Flynn-like prince in green tights, and Brian Blessed, blustering boisterously as the leader of the winged Hawkmen.
That the blessed Blessed fits in perfectly here gives you an idea of how OTT everything is, yet even he is outdone by the Queen soundtrack featuring Freddie Mercury in his thrilling vocal pomp.
Altogether now: “Flash! – Ah-ah!”
Released on Blu-ray by Optimium Releasing.