Last week’s Goonies has got me in a nostalgic mood, so what better time to revisit childhood favourites than in the warm comforting blanket of the Sunday Afternoon Movie.
From the director of Get Carter, the 1930’s comic strip comes to the big screen in a big budget (no laughing) adaptation featuring state of the art special effects, okay I can’t continue to build this movie up without flat out lying. I watched this for the first time around the age of 6, and even then I knew it was a bit naff.
A soundtrack from Queen, high camp value. and production standards so low that the crew of Doctor Who would openly snigger at the results, these things have earned Flash Gordon cult status.
Sam J Jones is Flash Gordon, the football player who travels to the planet Mongo to help fight evil tyrant Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow). Along the way Flash befriends Hawkmen, has a rivalry with a Prince, saves the earth, wears a smashing outfit and gets the girl.
Where else would you hear someone say; “Flash! I love you! But we only have fourteen hours to save the earth!”, it’s all made with a bit of a knowing nod but the makers had fun with it, nothing is taken too seriously yet it’s all played with a straight face.
There’s Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin, Topol as Dr Zarkov, Richard O’Brian as Fico and Brian Blessed as Vultan, what a mighty beard that man has always had. Keep your eyes peeled for brief appearances from Robbie Coltrane, Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan and Deep Roy as Princess Aura’s Pet.
Even though the post credit scene suggested a sequel, the film bombed and only found an audience years later on VHS and TV. The soundtrack by Queen was a success, and the band would go on to record another movie soundtrack 6 years later for Highlander.
Time hasn’t been kind to the movie, but like an old friend we don’t want to tell them they are showing their age. My fondness for this film may have dissipated somewhat, my days of watching it once a month are certainly long behind me. That said, it holds a special place in many a film fan’s heart as a movie that’s so bad it becomes good.
I still find it surprising no remake has ever surfaced, there has only been the short lived TV series from 2007 starring Eric Johnson as Steven “Flash” Gordon. I don’t question the fact that a remake will someday be made, perhaps a dark and gritty version (there’s a fresh idea that hasn’t in anyway become tiresome). Until then…