Show #14: Pre-show Discussion

The topic for Show #14 will be the 1980 film Flash Gordon, starring Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, and Max von Sydow.

What I’ve discovered about the DVD for this film is that it’s out of print, and therefore a highly priced collectible at Amazon. How does this movie go out of print?

Also, if you can find it, check out Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers, the 1936 Buster Crabbe serial that started the Hollywood fascination with Flash.


  1. Vanamonde says:

    This one should be a lot of fun. For me the FG movie falls into the `so bad it’s good’ category. The SFX are a bit dodgy and some of the acting is a bit wooden to say the least (especially from Sam Jones and Melody Anderson). But the sondtrack by Queen is great and Max Von Sydow hams it up nicely to play a great Ming (as does Peter Wyngarde as Klytus). Oh and any film with Brian Blessed in full shouting mode as Vultan is worth watching.

    Was it true that they dubbed Sam Jones?

  2. Testing

  3. Hot damn… it works now! I hate staying up all night trying to figure out why other people’s software breaks and vomits all over my website :)

    Believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve seen this Flash Gordon movie since 1980-81, and I do not recall the Queen soundtrack at all. I’m looking forward to rediscovering this one, myself.

    I don’t know about the Sam Jones dubbing, but I’d think that we could do some Googling to find out.

  4. What I’ve discovered about the DVD for this film is that it’s out of print, and therefore a highly priced collectible at Amazon.

    Utter and complete bovine excrement! How the hell can any movie, CD, book or any other sort of media go out of print today? This is a digital friggin’ world! Burn it on a blank DVD and stick in a Netflix-style envelope and ship it out? Cripes…

  5. ZorPrime says:

    Years ago my college theater ran a midnight showing of Flash Gordon. The Queen soundtrack stirred much audience participation. It definitely falls into “it’s so bad it’s good” terrority.

    Having seen Flash Gordon in other forms, it has the elements for a great sci-fi adventure remake. Earth in danger. A valiant hero. A cruel Emperor. Diverse feuding alien races. The human who brings them together. A more developed and better acted version with a bit of dark humor would make a great tv series.

  6. Hiya, Evo!

    You know most of this already, but I’ll put on my history teacher’s cap for this part. There are these silly things called “rights”, that were never included in movie or TV deal contracts for shows that came out pre-VHS, pre-DVD, and pre-Internet.

    Pesky thing, technology. Some people believe that if a clause specifically detailing use in a technology that didn’t exist when the contract was drawn up, then they have the right to deny its use with that tech when the time comes. “Heavy Metal” is the prime example of that. VHS and laserdisc and DVD didn’t exist when the contracts were drawn up, so getting permission from all those bands in the soundtrack again (many of whom had broken up by the time LD and DVD came around) took almost 15 years.

    Sometimes, it’s also just about cost. It took two plus years of negotiating to get a reasonable licensing agreement in order to include all of the original music used in “Miami Vice” on the DVD releases. I’m glad they took the time and made the effort to do it right.

    That high cost is also why “WKRP in Cincinnati” likely will never appear on a legitimately released DVD box set. Fans would never buy the edited versions that appeared in syndication, which is what Fox was originally going to do, but they wised up after another show of theirs came out on DVD using the edited syndicated (cheaper) versions, and the fans made their displeasure known.

  7. I think Flash Gordon was actually the movie that got me into Queen, although I had to find the soundtrack as an import. Maybe compare, also, to Barbarella in style and general camp. (Oh, and also also: Duran Duran? Queen? Random non-sequitor music tie-ins)

  8. Joe has to sing the theme tune I think, also (reffering to I.m.orchards post) i saw barbarella in wh smiths today for £6 and came sooo close to buying it

  9. Not only do I own the (apparently valuable) Flash DVD, I also own the soundtrack, which rocks, aside from the mid-90s DJ remix of the Queen theme song. That’s pretty lame.

    Bob: I still haven’t seen Barbarella. But it’s on my list. Well, now it is.

  10. Its true, on Amazon its a pretty penny. Oddly on that satanic site that is Ebay, you can “Buy it Now” for around 9.99 from a buncha peeps. Now these could be bootlegs but its there nonetheless.

    Id give my left somethin somethin to hear Joe bust out da Queen. Im waiting Mr. Rocket.

  11. Vanamonde says:
  12. Michael says:

    I saw this film when it originally came out in theaters. I’m so old school, I’ve got the movie on VHS and the soundtrack on vinyl (just call me Mr. Analog).

    One thing that sets this sci fi flick apart is that is oozes sexuality. Pretty much everything else at the time was shooting for the unisex thing. For that matter, it still seems to be the case with sci fi. Carrie Fisher once ruefully commented and I paraphrase, that “there is no sex in space.”

    Flash Gordon has none of that pretension. If gleefully brandishes its array of buff dudes in tights and hot, scantily clad women. We need more of this. After all, if you’re going to do cheesey space opera, it should be sexy as well.

  13. tim callender says:

    I must admit I haven’t seen this in twenty-odd years. I remember sitting in the theatre , and the scene where I “got” the movie: Ming asks the Earthlings “who are you?” and Flash says “Flash Gordon -quarterback, New York Jets!!” wotta riot!

    Other fave line: “Flash, I love you, but we’ve only got fourteen hours to save the Earth!!!”

    Can’t wait to hear the Ninja take on this one.

  14. Nigel in Melbourne says:

    Flash! Arrr Arrr

    This is a classic. Actually from an academic point of view, one thing about this film that I really like and indeed wish we would see more of in cinema, is the use of one musical group to do all the music and instramentals. Using one group really ties the film together cohesively and it certainly works well here. Of course Queen did it again with Highlander and again it worked well there.

    Should be a good ep. Can’t wait

  15. Nigel from Melbourne says:

    Michael, if you want sex in space there really is only one. Barabrella 😀

  16. nlowell says:

    In rural Maine, we used to get the Buster Crabbe FG serials on Saturday morning. Back to back with Space Cadet. I loved ’em.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the movie and I’m glad I stuck thru to the end.

    Open the wikipedia to “Campy” and you should find a link to FG. I had a really hard time trying to decide if they were playing it for laughs or trying to make a real movie. Everybody in the film plays it right at the edge … from the pilots in the “airliner” to the bit players on Mongo up to the main stars … The early scenes of Zarkov and his assistant could have been directed by Mel Brooks. Watching Richard O’Brien almost falling into Riff Raff’s voice was hysterical. If you didn’t recognize the head, you should have picked up the nasal twang. And I just loved the way Von Sydow pranced into the wedding in his red uniform because it was just so un-Von Sydow — whom I can’t see without thinking of “Through a Glass Darkly” – 1961.

    I absolutely loved the cinematography. Bold reds, blacks … the absolute 40s Big Sound stage feel. Ming’s audience room reminded me of a Busby-Berkley set. Ya the SFX were pretty bad and the ships were … faithful to the original. That final grand battle scene with the big phallic ship sliding into the huge round hole would have made Fellini proud.

    The music — yanno — other than the Flash Ahhh theme, the Queen signature piece there, I didn’t notice it that much and I guess that makes it good music.

    It was a fun Friday night with popcorn. I’m looking forward to the kamn-no-jitsu.

  17. Rob Williams says:

    I think if you are British, you have DNA that makes you love this film 😉

    I know I do.

  18. I love this movie and always have. I have the DVD and the album on Vinyl. It is definately a “sexy” movie with a lot of sexual metaphors and allusions. Princess Aurora was so friggin hot when I first saw this (around ’85; I was 10 or so) and still is. The atmosperic effects were rad, all the smokey, oily clouds. The converted B-52 and all the ships have that 1920s/30s sci-fi look down. It is nothing but pure inadulterated fun.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think this movie is bad at all, its good to the last drop…from “Klytus, I’m Bored,” to “Hail Flash, savior of the Universe!”