Unintentionally camp New York Jets quarterback, Flash Gordon, and vacuous travel agent, Dale Arden, inadvertently encounter mad scientist Dr Hans Zharkov during a presposterous geological attack from outer space and end up being sucked into a vortex to the planet Mongo via a homemade spaceship that Flash thinks is a phone box. This hapless, world-saving trio are greeted by the less-than-friendly Imperial Guards and, not at all surprised that they can breathe the air, proceed to get into various squabbles with overweight Hawkmen, tree-dwelling Blue Peter presenters and Max von Sydow’s beard-stroking Emperor of Mongo and wannabe Ruler of the Universe, Ming the Merciless.
So what happens?
Armed with only an effeminate quiff and a positive mental attitude, Flash fights a running battle against the clock to save the Earth whilst somehow gaining, and mystifyingly rejecting, the advances of Ming’s promiscuous vixen of a daughter, Aura. Gordon not only manages to save the planet by acting like he’s in a 90-minute shampoo advert, in between sickening bouts of selfless humanity he also unites Mongo’s quarrelling clans against Ming’s autonomous regime.
Why’s it a classic?
Flash (Sam J Jones) and Dale (Melody Anderson) exhibit all the acting talent of a sparkplug, but the rest of the cast are absolutely superb, turning this sci-fi epic into the stuff of small boys’ and dads’ fantasies for decidedly different reasons. British thesp Brian “GORDON’S ALIVE!!” Blessed and Timothy “FREEZE YOU BLOODY BASTARDS!!!” Dalton are top-drawer as enlightened princes Vultan and Baron; Klytus is Mongo-chic personified as the Darth Vader-esque Head of Secret Police; Zharkov is never less than engaging as the maniacal doctor; Von Sydow’s Ming robs every scene he glides into; and Ornella Muti is red-hot in every unscrupulous way as sultry intergalactic trollope, Aura. Add in Queen’s rollicking score, some elaborate Art Deco sets and the kind of costumes you might encounter at one of Michael Barrymore’s pool parties and you’ve got a camp, corny, trashy, bag of interplanetary tomfoolery that’s utterly brilliant in every mawkish way. It’s really ace. Just ask Seth MacFarlane.