Monday, February 11, 2013

Flash Gordon is quite possibly the most under appreciated science fiction film of the last 40 years

Flash Gordon is quite possibly the most under-appreciated science fiction film of the last 40 years. Disagree? Hear my argument, dear reader because I have six reasons to back up my claim.  Let us start with the first one (which has to do with the writing--a thing for which most of you can relate). For one, "Flash Gordon" features the best megalomaniac dialogue ever written. Here are just a few examples:

Ming the Merciless:  "Klytus I'm bored. What plaything can you offer me today?"

Klytus: "An obscure body in the SK-System, your majesty. The inhabitants refer to it as the planet...Earth."

Ming: "How peaceful it looks." (Ming begins to rain total destruction on the planet with natural disasters)

Klytus: "Most effective, your majesty. Will you destroy this, uh, Earth?

Ming: "Later, I like to play with things a while...before annihilation."

And it gets better than that:

Princess Aura to Emperor Ming: "Water is leaking from her eyes."

Ming: "It's called tears; it's a sign of their weakness..."

This exchange still makes me roll with mirth:
Mariangela Melato plays General Kala. I love her costume. Best. General. Ever.
Can you imagine our military dressing like this? Seriously, Star Fleet could learn a thing
or two from Flash Gordon's costuming department.
Soldier: "General Kala...Flash Gordon approaching."

General Kala (played by Mariangela Melato): "What do you mean...Flash Gordon approaching?"

Soldier: "On a hawkman rocket cycle. Should I inform his majesty?"

General Kala: "Imbecile! The emperor would shoot you for interrupting his wedding. Open fire! All weapons, now! CHARGE the lightning field! I take personal responsibility in the Emperor's name!"
And in the wedding, let us not forget the exchange of vows:

Zogi, the High Priest: "Do you, Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe, take this Earthling Dale Arden, to be your Empress of the Hour?"

The Emperor Ming: "Of the hour, yes."

Zogi, the High Priest: "Do you promise to use her as you will?"

The Emperor Ming: "Certainly!"

Zogi, the High Priest: "Not to blast her into space?"
[Ming glares at Zogi]

Zogi, the High Priest: "Uh, until such time as you grow weary of her."

The Emperor Ming: "I do."

Dale Arden: "I do NOT!"

But if this incredibly cheesy, yet TOTALLY AWESOME dialogue is not enough to persuade you to look up this old movie and watch it for yourself, here are reasons two through six:

2) Max Von Sydow or James Earl Jones? To this day I have no idea who has a better voice. Is it Max Von Sydow or does James Earl Jones top him? I can't imagine what it would be like to have both actors in an animated flick lending their voice talents to characters on opposing sides. I think it would be incredible, and Disney should get right on this.

3) Ornella Muti. This Asian vixen played the sluttiest character to grace speculative fiction since Jane Fonda in Barbarella. Who doesn't love a great slut? And for the record, Ornella did it better. They really should have dropped the rating on Flash Gordon lower and let Ornella breathe true life into the role of Ming the Merciless's daughter.
Ornella Muti as Princess Aura. Best sci-fi slut EVER. Seriously.
4) The totally gay costumes. I love re-watching Flash Gordon, because it's gayer than The Rocky Horror Picture Show (and that is quite the accomplishment). Seriously, the hawkmen with their shaved legs, the villains all wearing colorful robes splashed with glitter, and the gratuitous flaunting of hunky Flash Gordon's bare chest. But when he isn't running around like that, he's wearing a skin-tight uniform and super shiny rubber boots straight from Frederick's of Hollywood. Elton John and Lady Gaga would totally find themselves at home in a Flash Gordon movie. As a matter of fact, you probably wouldn't even notice them.
These costumes were cool way before Lady Gaga. Go Flash Go!
5) Queen. Yes, they got Queen to do the soundtrack. If this isn't the checkmate reason to see this film, I don't know what is. True fans of Freddie Mercury know that this band had the undeniable perfect sound for Flash Gordon.
6) A Flying City. They are all over the place in speculative fiction stories and novels, but this and Cloud City from Star Wars are the only ones I can remember in film. The moons of Mongo are really cool. And I was kind of sad when the city got blasted by Klytus' warship. And to be fair, Star Wars' Cloud City is done waaay better.

So what about you? Can you think of any under-appreciated science fiction films? Are you also a fan of Flash Gordon? Have a great Monday :)


  1. I can't tell if you're being serious or not, and that is... troubling.

  2. I so loved Flash Gordon as a kid. The Queen soundtrack? Yeah, that's now stuck in my head.


    BRAVO, MIchael.

    I couldn't agree more. I LOVE this movie and watch it EVERY time I see it listed. It does have it all, including the sexy, young Timothy Dalton. And Ornella Muti is BEYOND SEXY .... Totally give Ms Fonda a run for her money... much more sultry than vixenish....

  4. Flash Gordon is seriously underrated. Another fictional hero who I think is underrated is Darkman. In the movie Liam Neeson plays him to perfection.

    I'm glad you put in quotes from Flash Gordon. The movie truly has some of the best dialogue around.

  5. No, just never liked it. Maybe the costumes were the highlight of the movie, but the name "Flash Gordon" is cheesy to begin with and the cheese just keeps coming.

  6. It is a bit of a classic movie. Something for everyone.

  7. Had to laugh at Andrew's comment!
    Yup, saw it in the theater and have the 45 record of Queen's song. Don't know about under appreciated, but it is one of the cheesiest films ever made.

  8. Oh, you're so right about James Earl Jones. He could read the phone book to me anytime. Hmm? Wonder if Netflix has this. You got me curious.

  9. Awesome post Michael. I loved FG as a kid, and now you've got me thinking it's time to watch it with my kids. The Queen song still pops into my mind after all these years.

    A really fun, under-appreciated sci fi movie is The Explorers with a young Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.

  10. I haven't seen this in years, but I loved it when I was younger. I need to watch it as an adult.

  11. If "Ted" is any indication then you an Seth MacFarlane could spend days talking about this crummy movie. It seems to me more like the fake movie they were planning in "Argo."

  12. I knew I loved my husband for a reason. This is one of his most favorite movies EVAR. :D

  13. AMEN BROTHER!!!!!

    I watched this movie a billion times as a kid. I loved everything about it: from Klytus melting, the awesome duel between Baron and Flash, the hawkmen, and Ornella Muti was my introduction to sexuality.

    Remember how the guards would squeal when they died?

  14. Good cheesy is good. Bad cheesy is stupid. It's an art.

  15. I remember loving this as a kid. I watched it a few weeks ago. lol. Too funny. =)

  16. Of course I'm a Flash Gordon fan. I used to watch it over and over again with my kids. They knew some of the dialogue.

  17. Man, I was like probably five or six years old when I last saw this. It really takes you back!

  18. I haven't seen this movie but it might be fun to load the bong and watch it.

  19. I loved that movie as a kid. It didn't compare to Star Wars in terms of effects but that wasn't the goal. It was campy in a 1930s sort of way and we watched it every time it made the rotation on HBO.

    You didn't mention my favorite part of the whole movie.


  20. Laughing at the Elton John/Lady Gaga comment! How funny is that???

    I've TOTALLY heard of this movie of course, but I haven't seen it! Now I'm curious.

    Hope your Monday is fantastic, Michael. Love your blog. :D

  21. @Andrew: I'm totally serious. I lurve Flash Gordon.

    @Liz: Nerd

    @Michael: *takes a bow. Thank you sir.

    @Sheena: Interesting to spotlight Darkman! That's so true.

    @Cindy: Well little miss boring... J/K Cindy...I heart you *hugs

    @Moody: Indeed.

    @Alex: OMG...the 45? Holy cow you ARE old...


    @Tim: You are still a kid, Tim Lulz

    @Miranda: I agree.

    @P.T.: I don't get how you can like cheesy movies and not be on board with FG.

    @Michelle: heheh, no wonder we are friends!

    @Jay: *high five

    @L.G.: It is an art. I agree.

    @E.Arroyo: Your name always reminds me of a famous artist.

    @Susan: The dialogue is the bestest :)

    @Stephen: hahahah

    @Kevin: Thanks for the link. I knew you are a fan. Are you sure you're not gay? Just sayin :P


  22. I think I know what we're going to watch for movie night this weekend!

  23. believe it or not it is one of my all time fave films :) Space opera is still my fave genre of all genres!
    And I still claim that I'm actually the rightful Paddishah or Arboria and that Prince Barin is only my toy, not a real ruler of the planet...
    And I had a cat called Ming Mongo :)

  24. PS Ornella Muti isn't an Asian vixen, she is a famous Italian actress :P

  25. Ah...the memories. That song is a real earworm. I'll be hearing, "Flash...ah ha...He'll save everyone of us," all afternoon.

  26. I never saw this film but I do remember watching reruns of Buck Rogers as a kid. (:

  27. I'm so glad you had Queen as one of your reasons. I think that should be reason #1. But of course, i'm hardly unbiased in the Queen-loving department.
    Have you seen Ted? Because if not, Ted (the teddy bear) and Mark Wahlberg are obsessed with Flash Gordon in the movie. It's hilarious

  28. As soon as I read the title, the soundtrack started playing in my head. This film is a classic in so many ways. :)

  29. @Johanna: Oh I think you will love it.

    @Dezmond: I had no idea she was an Italian actress!

    @Brinda: true

    @Elise: You should watch it.

    @Sarah: I haven't watched Ted yet.

    @Southpaw: LOL isn't that the truth?

  30. Could this be the same director that did Barbarella? Flash Gordon comes in a distant 2nd place to Barbarella.
    Jane Fonda's finest work!

  31. Have you seen Star Crash yet? It's the best evva!

    I have to get a copy of Flash. I love cheesy.

  32. Saw it, but don't remember it.

    When this film came out, the theatrical company I was working for at the time bought the rights to Flash Gordon and we put on a live arena style extravaganza that mashed Flash, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, Hekyll and Jekyll, and Pinocchio into one spectacle. It was not the hit they expected, but on the other hand with all that mix of characters what the heck were they thinking? We sure had a good time though.

    Have you ever compiled a life soundtrack?
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  33. I've never seen this old flick but now I really want to. And yes, Fredericks of Hollywood definitely explains the costumes -- is that cheesy old line of lingerie still around?

  34. Have you seen Ted? You know, that movie with Marky Mark and the Teddy Bear... it's a 2 hour love story about Flash Gordon (that's what I got out of it at least).

    Funnily enough, I read a book about John Carter a couple of weeks ago, the disney movie from last year that flopped pretty badly, I did not know that John Carter was being developed into a movie serial that got nixed at the last minute... only to have Flash Gordon replace it. Prevailing wisdom being that the studio decided that paying out all that money to Edgar Rice Burrows for the rights to the John Carter was too costly and they just changed the name and went from there.

    Anyway, I loved Flash Gordon as well, I saw it in the theater when I was a kid and didn't get the cheese factor, I just thought it was great.

    And Queen is one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and Freddy Mercury one of the greatest front men. It's still the reason I'd put Highlander up there as an overlooked classic as well... although some might argue that it isn't that overlooked.

  35. Yes! Good costumes. Personally, I prefer Max Von Sydow

  36. what an awesome tribute!
    one of my fave films! totally underrated!


  37. Flash WAS great. And Rusty's right. You should see Ted.

    I liked "The last Starfighter." And "Battlestar Galactica." The original.

  38. I remember seeing Flash when I was young and enjoying it. Though I'd forgotten about it, I'd have to agree with your argument of under appreciation--prepare that lightning field for me...

  39. I loved this tribute, Michael. When I had Mark Twain's ghost kidnap Alex Cavanaugh in my tribute to Alex, I had Mark take along the deadly and lovely Ornella Muti as Princess Aura or I think I misnamed her Ardalla! :-)

  40. I was starting to think you were insane, and the whole thing sounded awful and frankly TERRIBLE. But I have to admit you had me at "gayer than the Rocky Horror Picture Show." So now I must see it. Also: Queen. OMG QUEEN HELL YEA

    (I may have a recent, inexplicable, passionate obsession with Queen. )

  41. I LOVE Queen. Excellent musicians. Their music is, well, bodaciously impressive. Humming happily right now. And Flash is all that! So great tribute, Michael. :-)

  42. MST 3000 comes to mind. Love the full length feature movie. They just don;t make shows like that any more.

  43. @Kent: Oh you just made all the Vietnam vets angry wit you.

    @Mary: I haven't! I may have to get on that. I know you've spoken about it before :/

    @Arlee: You have an interesting past, sir.

    @Helena: I'm afraid lingerie never goes out of style, my friend.

    @Rusty: ZOMGAH I MUST SEE TED NOW. Everyone is talking about it.

    @Catherine: I think I do too. We are in sync. Not the boy band but simply that our minds are thinking the same thing.

    @Tara: *high five! I'm glad you liked it.

    @Briane: BSG the original...oh boy. That's crosses the line on cheesiness.

    @Slamdunk: hehehe. Nerd.

    @Roland: Thank you sir. I'm sure you are forgiven for saying Princess Ardalla. Isn't that a Buck Rogers character?

    @Callie: I think I just may be insane, but aren't most creative people?

    @Robyn: Love all their music. Especially Highlander. Oh...and Bohemian Rhapsody.

    @Stephen: MST3K? I don't think their heckling would add much to the movie. But, I could be wrong.

    Thanks everyone for visiting :)

  44. I showed it to my kids for the first time a couple of years ago. They, of course, loved it.
    It's got Timothy Dalton in one of his best roles ever.

  45. Flash Gordon is one of my favourite movies from my childhood. I think it's actually my second favourite childhood film after Xanadu.