Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Flesh Gordon

Title: Flesh Gordon
Director: Michael Benveniste & Howard Ziehm
Released: 1974
Staring: Jason Williams, Suzanne Fields, Joseph Hudgins, William Dennis Hunt,

Rating: 5 / 5
Plot: Emperor Wang (Hunt), the leader of the planet Porno has sent his mighty "Sex Ray" towards Earth, turning everyone into sex-mad fiends. Now only one man can save the Earth, football player Flesh Gordon (Williams). Along with his girlfriend Dale Ardent (Fields) and Professor Flexi-Jerkoff (Hudgins), they set off towards the source of the Sex Ray, unaware of the perils that face them!

Review: I don’t what it is, but there are some movies, which just put you in a good mood, while you’re watching them, making them that cinematic equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich or that great song “Shiny Happy People” by REM (especially with Beavis and Butthead commentary) and this film is truly one of those kinds of movie, as when I sat down to watch it, I could honestly say that I wasn’t in the best of moods, seeing how I was having one of those real grey kind of days, but all that changed while watching this, as something within this movie, just turned that frown upside down.
“Flesh Gordon” much like “Fritz the cat” (1972) was when I was growing up one of those movies that some of the kids, with slightly more liberal parents than my own, would often brag about seeing, mainly because of it’s rude content, it was a film that for one reason or another I only recently got around to watching for the first time and now I only wished I’d hunted it out sooner, as it truly is a film which is like a head on collision between 1950’s B-movies, Monty Python style animation and the sexploitation genre, as cheesy special effects are combined with gratuitous nudity, with a healthy splattering of humour throughout to hold the whole thing together and for some strange reason it works.
If you haven’t guessed already this film is basically a sexed up version of the classic Serial “Flash Gordon” which first appeared back in the 1930’s and whose own camp movie adaptation wouldn’t appear till 1980, a whole six years after the appearance of this raunchy bastard child of a movie, which still managed to cram in a whole heap of nods to the original series, with a similarly rousing orchestra score, aswell including those memorable cliff-hanger endings which provides one of the more humorous moments of the film, as the film cuts suddenly to an intermission, before restarting with “Part 2”, while also taking time for a sly dig at Flash’s costume and it’s these homage’s to the source material which help the film, to be more than a sexed up cash in, which ironically is how the film started, with the original plan of making an X rated version of “Flash Gordon” getting lost during production, to the point were it became this version of the film, though you can still see many moments, which were no doubt part of this original plan for the film, seeing how the audience is shown the passengers on a plane, having a spontaneous orgy after being hit with a blast from the sex ray pretty much within the opening ten minuites. Nudity (both male and female) is shown throughout with such abandon, that I almost thought that I had stumbled across one of the “Gore-Gore Girl” porn spoofs, in the same vain of “Jurassic Hump” and “These Something a butt Mary”. These continous moments of nudity also forms the basis of a running joke, for the character of Dale Ardent who like her namesake from the original series “Dale Arden” spends most of the film getting easily captured, but also seems to have a habit of frequently losing her clothes, meaning that she spends most of the film running around topless….not that it is an overly bad thing really.
Williams plays Flesh well as he portrays him with all the charm of the original flash and had all the nudity and sex jokes been edited out of this film, it could be shown as a similar style film to those original serials (while also being about 15 minutes long) his performance while wholesome, is never to the point were he grates, even with his apparent innocent image he portrays, when he's not off being seduced by strange space women, despite claiming to be madly in love with Dale, but such questions are really quite minor. However amongst the cast the performance which really stands out, is that of Hunt as Emperor Wang who is played almost like a sex crazed version of Fu Manchu, with him holding constant orgies in front of his throne, as well as celebrating the apparent demise of Flesh, with a spontaneous naked conga line (not something you see everyday), with Hunt, becoming all the more camp as the film goes on, to the point were I was almost drawing comparisons to Cesar Romero’s Joker in “Batman” (1966) as he frequently insults his overly stupid henchmen, by referring to them as dildo’s. It’s his performance that really helps put Emperor Wang into my top 10 cinema villains, even as random as he is.

For a film that is basically one joke, it never seems to get stretched to thin as you grow strangely accustomed to this bizarre and sexed up world, to the point, were you don’t even question the phallus shaped spaceship that Flesh travels around in, or the face that you get to see a one eyed monsters called “Penisaurus”, even if some of the jokes seem kind of obvious such as the planet being called porno, or the idea of “Emperor Wang” it all seems to fit quite naturally together, as it becomes an extremely random b-movie, something that is helped especially with the effects, which for those of you, who are fans of those classic movies from the 1950’s especially those directed by the likes of “Ed Wood” you will certainly get a kick out of the effects on show here, with many being similar to those used in the original serials, as spaceships are moved on strings, along with extensive use of miniatures as well as Stop motion animation, which in itself is truly a forgotten art and it was nice to see the majority of the film’s strange creatures being animated this way, rather than using a guy in a monster costume. While watching these effects, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of this was homage, rather than being down to lack of funds? More so especially during several of the sword fights were some of the cast never seemed to be putting any effort in. Thankfully it is assumed by the viewer that this is part of the joke and such things are easily over looked, even as you watch Professor Jerkoff and Flesh falling into a hole, which looks strangely like someone basically dropping two action figures.
What is especially worth noting about this film, is the early special effects work on show from the likes of Rick Baker and Jim Danforth (whose name is spelt backwards in the credits), while Craig T. Nelson also provides the voice of the monster seen at the end of the film, in an early film credit long before he became the voice of “Mr Incredible” in Pixar’s own superhero spoof “The Incredibles”, proof once again that genre cinema is often the launch pad to bigger things.
“Flesh Gordon” to summarise is a great fusing of two low budget genres, which creates a great fun film, which despite being extremely random, still provides a fun viewing experience, that is the cinematic equivalent of Prozac, while at the least a true forgotten gem of trash cinema.


  1. I need an injection of b-movie cheeziness, its that time of the year again and I think Flesh Gordon will do the trick, thanks for reminding me I need to see this one already! Ever seen its sequel?

  2. The sequel is on the to watch list, despite not hearing overly great things about it. This one never fails to cheer me up with it's randomness.


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