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Old 07-05-2012, 05:51 AM
Past Tense

This week we save a distant S&M world from a tyrant with the help of Hawk Men in "Flash Gordon" (1980)...

The motion picture opened on December 5th, 1980. It was made with a budget of $35,000,000 (estimated) and grossed over $27 million during its U.S. theatrical run. My data is limited. The film opened number one at the box office, the following week's ranking is unknown.

The feature opened against "The Competition", "Tanya's Island" and "Raging Bull".

This release (Saviour Of The Universe Edition) did not come in a DVD case. It was a glossy cardboard box ('Premium Packaging') which flipped open. Inside is clear disc holder for the single disc. No slipcover issued, nor insert (booklet/chapter listing/advertisement).

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Best Buy had the only exclusive; two art postcards (5.2 x 7.1 inches) by famous comic book artist Alex Ross. The set streeted on August 7th, 2007 and sold for $16.99. The back of the cards are blank minus the Universal logo stamp (with copyright year). Both postcards fit inside the box.

Above is the weekly ad announcing their particular gimmicks. I bought my copy on release day.

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Man, what is there to say about this psychedelic romp that hasn't been said (it makes a great flick companion with "Barbarella" [1968])? Well... how did this cost $35 million??? Maybe ten - fifteen is pushing it (in 1980 money). My vote is drugs and lots of them.

The overall designs are very utilitarian. You can't confuse this with the Ron Cobb constructions for "Blade Runner" (1982). Things here look like they're made from spray painted plastic, even the space ships. Sorry, rocket ships.

You gotta question if they hired a bunch of trannies to do the costumes. 'This needs more beadazzling, stat!'

Make no mistake - this is a bad movie. But it is one of these ultra rare combinations where they had the money, the heart and the talent to rise it above their horrible gaudiness into kickassery territory. It's like WTF? But then a few minutes later - I'm okay with this, go on... Pure cheese.

You don't see enough of this type of thing nowadays - presentation. What we have now is reinterpretation. 'How can we make this character modern for today's audiences?' The villain, Emperor Ming (played by Max von Sydow) was so perfect. He looked like the old comic book baddie. I appreciate that desire to bring to the screen THAT person, not someone removed so much from the source material. When I think of Ming The Merciless, that's who I think of.

Sam Jones made an excellent Flash Gordon. The man looks like your archetypal hero. The qualities we wish to have under such pressures. Flash has no super powers, just his wits, will and physical strength. The underdog who has an abundance of moxie and prevails.

Prince Vultan (played by Brian Blessed) is kind of an asshole when we first meet him. But later when the shit hits the fan, this is the guy we want in our foxhole. He is so goddamn, bigger than life. DIVE!!! Those big white teeth.

The rest of the cast fits quite well. Okay, Melody Anderson's Dale Arden felt artificial at times. Too much of a stereotype. But that's pretty much her entire career. The same kind of acting could be later seen in her TV series, "Manimal" (NBC 1983). Remember that? For me, she was the weak link, it didn't hurt the movie. But it could've been better.

The first movie I saw Topol in was the Bond feature, "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), I saw that at the theaters. He made a great Dr. Hans Zarkov. A bit crazy, but believable. I only wish they spent more time with the doctor examining this foreign technology; big ass buttons, dials and toggle switches.

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My first real encounter was watching this when I was in high school, sometime in 1989 on local TV, KTLA if I'm not mistaken. My jaw was open for most of the film. This is real, I'm not hallucinating. I recall joking with friends about it the next day, a shared surreal experience.

This is something; my high school pre-algebra teacher, whom I won't name, looked almost like General Kala (Mariangela Melato). Freaky.

Oh man, the music by Queen. There's a joke here... So very appropriate. Their theme song is so spartan, like Queen half-assed it and gave the studio a quick demo of an unfinished tune and that gets used. *shrugs* But like all the crazy visuals, this piece fits quite well...

Flash! - Ahhhhhh - Saviour of the universe!

Flash! - Ahhhhhh - He'll save every one of us!

Flash! - Ahhhhhh - He's a miracle!

Flash! - Ahhhhhh - King of the impossible!

He's for every one of us
Stand for every one of us
He'll save with a mighty hand
Every man every woman every child
With a mighty Flash!

Flash! - Ahhhhhh

Flash! - Ahhhhhh - He'll save every one of us!

Just a man with a man's courage
He knows, nothing but a man
But he can never fail
No one but the pure in heart
May find the golden grail - ohhhh ohhhh ohhhh ohhhh

Yes, you read correctly, those are the actual lyrics. Oh god. Man, I need to get this soundtrack.

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What bugs me is that this release is weak on extras. Granted the movie is presented in remastered anamorphic widescreen with new 5.1 surround sound (which is appreciated), true. But the bonuses are not so much related the kitschy motion picture.

The featurette on Alex Ross is nice, interesting. The interview with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. is informative. The film's trailer is a default (should included without question). The first episode of "Flash Gordon" 1936 serial ("The Planet Of Peril") is campy nostalgia. Okay, sure, I guess, having a TV spot for the then new Sci-Fi Channel series based on the concept is all right. But the series was so removed from the source; felt more like a "Sliders".

That's it! No further bonuses.

There should've been more. MORE.

What you see above is the "Silver Anniversary Edition" DVD, released by Momentum Pictures on October 10th, 2005 in the United Kingdom for 19.99. What's did we Yanks miss out on?

No DTS 5.1 for the feature film.

Missing are two commentaries; one by film director Mike Hodges, the second from co-star Brian Blessed.

It's been speculated that Hodges' anti-Bush and U.S. foreign policy mentions on his commentary was the reason why it was excluded. Don't know, could be. But what about Blessed?

Also not included is a half hour interview with Hodges. AND a slideshow of production stills. I want to see that.

The last bit is a different "Flash Gordon" serial, the first episode of "Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe" (1940), "The Purple Death".

Who's to blame here for the weak extras on the region one DVD? I gonna point my finger solely on Emperor Ming.


I hear, he likes the Latinas; especially the ones with the painted eyebrows.

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Just Because.

Italian actress Ornella Muti played Princess Aura. Man, she seems to be surrounded by glittery pastries or diseased pillows - can't say which is more bizarre. [internet info: there's a topless photo of Muti in her prime on the webs]

War rocket Ajax will be dispatched on July 19th to bring back the next PT.

Last edited by JohnIan; 08-26-2013 at 02:21 AM..
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