Saturday, April 28, 2007

"He'll save every one of us!"

While we’re waiting for SciFi Channel to unveil its highly secretive version of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon later this year, Universal Home Video is finally releasing a “special edition” DVD of the 1980 Mike Hodges-directed movie on August 7. For the past few years, the original Region 1 (U.S.) Flash Gordon DVD has been out of print but available on eBay for a lot of money. Now, the movie seems to be getting some decent treatment, digitally remastered in 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen, although the extras sound a little thin (a couple of featurettes and the first chapter of the 1936 Flash Gordon serial with Buster Crabbe).

Flash Gordon flopped big time in theaters in the ’80s, but word-of-mouth, kitschy retro-FX, surreal set and costume design, and the now-famous Queen score (used to great effect in the new comedy Blades of Glory) have made it a cult favorite. There’s great stuff in this film. Besides some terrific space babes, there’s a fantastically sinister performance by Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless (“Pathetic Earthlings...who can save you now?”). And Topol’s Dr. Zarkov, who seems to get Flash Gordon and Dale Arden to the planet Mongo without government assistance, is delightful.

I’ve owned the European Region 2 “Silver Anniversary Edition” DVD of Flash Gordon for a couple of years. It includes feature-length commentaries from director Hodges and actor Brian Blessed (who plays Vultan), an interview with Hodges, the original trailer, and the first episode of the 1940 Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial. Too bad the August U.S. release will be missing the commentaries, which are very good.

UPDATE: SciFi Channel has announced that its new Flash Gordon series, starring Eric Johnson (from the first couple of seasons of Smallville), premieres August 10.


At 12:45 PM, Anonymous tom novak said...

You forgot to mention how incredibly hot space babe Melody Anderson is in that version of Flash. Woof! Of course, you could have also mentioned how incredibly hot space babe Jean Rogers is in the original too. Ummm, what was I supposed to be posting about here? Oh yeah -

I've always liked Flash, and still do, and Dark Horse has entire collections of the Flash Gordon comic strips gloriously reprinted and available. But, honestly, Flash is the politically correct version of John Carter. Ming never would have gotten away with F'ing with JC for all those years the way he did with Flash without getting his bald head rammed up his own throne room for even trying. That's for sure.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

To be honest, Tom, as much as I love the Flash Gordon movie, Melody Anderson is not a favorite space babe of mine (although I certainly wouldn't kick her out of a shuttle).

As for Flash letting Ming off the hook time and time again, I agree. I fear that Flash may have shared Doc Savage's belief that badguys should always be spared for "rehabilitation."


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