“Hi, my name’s Flash,” says the quarterback for the New York Jets (Sam J. Jones) to his new girlfriend Dale, a dim-witted travel agent (Melody Anderson).
Inexplicably, the pair gets locked up in the rocket ship of a nutty scientist named Dr Hans Zarkov (Topov), who yells, “We’ll go up and counterattack them!” when he gets pelted with moon rocks . . .
“Them” are the decadent denizens of the distant planet Mongo, ruled by the evil Emperor Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow, pictured at left), who takes one look at Dale and starts to drool while making preparations for her virgin sacrifice.
Fortunately for Flash – who looks like a lifeguard at the Beverly Hills Hotel – the demented Ming has a nymphomaniac daughter, Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) who takes one look at his peroxided head and black chest hairs and decides she’d like to see more.
“I like you a lot! ” she purrs as Flash slips out of leather hot pants left over from the costume budget of a gay porno flick.
Don’t underestimate Ming. He’s so slimy he’d even torture his own daughter. “Bring me the bore worms!” he orders, while the nymphet writhes in agony. “Oh, no!” screams the princess (pictured below) in the best Maria Montez tradition, “Not the bore worms!”
But the sadomasochism is just beginning. As Flash is being bullwhipped on a revolving LP with sharp spikes in the floor, Dale coos, “I love you, Flash, but we’ve only got fourteen hours to save the earth! ”
Somehow Flash survives swamp creatures, quicksand, zap guns, X-ray rifles, flying soldiers from The Wizard of Oz, and other unspeakable tortures to rally several “princes of Mongo” – including the Robin Hood-like Barin (Timothy Dalton, pictured below) – for a revolution against Ming’s oppressive rule and save the day in his jet-propelled dune buggy while the audience moans with disbelief.
Former Playgirl model Sam J. Jones – who sort of wrestles with the role of Flash Gordon like a Malibu surfer attacking a giant octopus – has hair like garden mulch. They bleached it to weeds but forgot the roots.
Melody Anderson, as Dale Arden, sounds like a Barbie doll gone berserk.
Hopeless as they are, in and out of their clothes, they weren’t helped much by the tacky sets, fake rear-screen projection or amateurish chromakey visuals that gave them blue lines around their heads like old Godzilla movies.
But the superb campy soundtrack from Queen more than makes up for all that.
Dr Hans Zarkov
Max von Sydow