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Posts Tagged ‘Flash Gordon’

31 Days Of Flash Gordon #11

July 11th, 2010 No comments

"Tell me more about this man, 'Houdini.'"

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31 Days Of Flash Gordon #10

July 10th, 2010 No comments

Deep Roy on a leash. This is a fetish for someone.

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31 Days Of Flash Gordon #9

July 9th, 2010 No comments

Being Dale Arden is difficult work and requires commitment. Not only do you have to engineer an escape from Ming’s boudoir…

…and dodge laser fire…

…but you’ll also need to take a course in Unnecessary Gymnastics…

…and don’t forget Laser Gun Marksmanship.

“Hey, who’s smoking in here?”

Yes, it’s not easy to be Dale Arden…

…but the shoes are to die for.

31 Days Of Flash Gordon #8

July 8th, 2010 No comments

2001: A Space Odyssey was once promoted to the late ’60s/early ’70s counterculture with the tagline “The Ultimate Trip,” a reference to its psychedelic “Star Gate” sequence. Perhaps Flash Gordon would have similarly benefited from an ad campaign highlighting its hallucinogenic qualities. In addition to the freaky, swirling clouds surrounding the planet Mongo, there were the truly bizarre “moons,” each of which served as a kingdom for one of the eternally-feuding princes. The above collection of floating rocks was the moon Aquaria, whereas Prince Barin’s forest realm of Arboria resembled a craggy, tree-filled cereal bowl.

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31 Days Of Flash Gordon #7

July 7th, 2010 No comments

It would be remiss of me to let the entire first week of Flash Gordon Month go by without a tribute to everyone’s favorite planetary potentate, Ming the Merciless. For one, how awesome is it when a villain’s last name is “the Merciless?” Says it right there on the tin.

Now, the original Flash Gordon serials of the ’30s and ’40s had themselves a fine Ming. Charles Middleton rocked the Yellow Peril look and was a ruler to be reckoned with.

And if Max Von Sydow hadn’t come along in 1980, we’d still think of Middleton as the consummate Ming.

Von Sydow completely inhabits the role, confidently striding onto the set like he owns the place. He rolls out his threats and edicts with a silkiness that matches his royal costumes. There is no doubt that this Ming is in charge and, as Flash puts it, that “this Ming is a psycho.”

Yet Ming is not without his good side. He loves his daughter Aura, even if he does occasionally have to see her whipped, subjected to bore worms or exiled to the ice moon of Frigia in order to keep her in line. The father-daughter bond can be a funny thing.

He also respects his enemies, and is willing to deed the most worthy a kingdom of their own. Of course, since he keeps the various princes of Mongo at each others’ throats, giving a little power makes him all the more powerful.

Von Sydow added one distinctive bit of business: his Ming frequently makes flourishing waves with his fingers, perhaps anticipating a forthcoming conquest in the Royal Bedroom or the opportunity to strangle a fragile neck.

To this day, I find myself doing those finger flourishes. It’s one of several tics I’ve picked up thanks to a lifelong love of sci-fi. (I also tend to “use the Force” on automatic doors.)

31 Days Of Flash Gordon #6

July 6th, 2010 No comments

"Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!"

31 Days Of Flash Gordon #5

July 5th, 2010 No comments

Playfield of "Flash Gordon" pinball machine by Bally.

Playfield of the “Flash Gordon” pinball machine by Bally. Image “borrowed” from here.

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31 Days Of Flash Gordon #4

July 4th, 2010 No comments

“Attention, all wedding guests. There is no cause for alarm. The city’s weapons are being fired in continuous salute in honor of His Imperial Majesty’s wedding.”

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31 Days Of Flash Gordon #3

July 3rd, 2010 No comments

Any adventure serial worth hanging from a cliff needs a good bad girl. Sure, we all know that our square-jawed hero and his plucky, pretty companion will be together in the end, but how dull that would be without a wicked princess to tempt him onto the path of naughtiness. A bad girl is certain to be sexually aggressive and likely to be scantily clad. Bonus points if the hero’s innate goodness inspires her to betray the cause of evil.

Flash Gordon has a prime example of the bad girl in the person of Princess Aura, daughter of Ming the Merciless. As far back as the original 1930s comic strip, she’s taken her romantic rival duties so seriously that she’s had the hots for two heroes. Love, Mongo Style is pretty complicated. Flash Gordon loves Dale Arden, but is drawn to Aura. Aura is smitten with Flash, but keeps Prince Barin of Arboria on a short leash. Barin initially sees Gordon as a threat before finding him a trusted ally. Meanwhile, Ming lusts after Dale.*

In the feature film, Aura is played by Italian actress Ornella Muti. While I don’t know that it’s been scientifically proven, I believe it entirely possible that Muti, circa 1980, was the hottest object in existence. Several Arriflex cameras spontaneously burst into flame during filming, and costume designer Danilo Donati suffered third-degree burns while fitting her for this outfit.**

*The movie takes it still further. Klytus, the head of Ming’s secret police, wants the princess for himself. And there’s even a suggestion that Aura and Daddy Ming have a little somethin’ somethin’ going on. Earth standards of morality do not apply in Mingo City.

**Possibly not true.

31 Days Of Flash Gordon #2

July 2nd, 2010 No comments

Like It’s a Wonderful Life and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the 1980 remake of Flash Gordon is a film that’s much better regarded today than during its original release. A box-office flop three decades ago, its heady mix of psychedelia, camp, sex and rock ‘n roll have since won over multiple generations of fans.

I, however, loved it from the first. And for the next 30 days, I’ll show you why!

So, strap yourselves down, put your foot on that red pedal, and get ready to blast off to the Moons of Mongo!

Above is Richard Amsel’s gorgeous poster art.

I always got a kick out of the tagline, “Pathetic Earthlings…Who Can Save You Now?” It’s such a Ming the Merciless thing to say, even if he never actually spoke the line in the film.

However, as I recently discovered, he did say it in the trailer…