Midnight Movie: ‘Flash Gordon’

Last weekend’s midnight movie at the E Street Cinema was the 1980 classic, Flash Gordon.

And it freaking rocked. Here are just a few reasons why:

It stars Max Von Sydow, prancing around in a pink satin pantsuit and a haze of psychosexual weirdness that would have made Ingmar Bergman commit ritual suicide, had he seen it.

Topol, best known for Fiddler on the Roof, never known for understated performances,  clearly prepared for this role by locking himself in sterile white room, empty save for a pencil, a ream of virgin paper, a vast quantity of LSD, and the script. He then based his performance on the notes he wrote to himself while locked in that room.

Brian Blessed wears wings and a scaled leather speedo. He also attacks the role of King of the Hawkmen with the sort of gusto one normally associates with bath salt sniffing cannibals. A gifted Shakespearean, he nonetheless believes that a failure to mug the camera and overact will result in a live car battery being clamped to his aged father’s withered testicles.

It’s got an alien princess who looks, dresses, and talks like a notably slurry Bond girl. And speaking of Bond, Timothy Dalton plays Prince Barin of Arborea. And his second in command is played by Riff Raff. Riff Raff, people.

Every costume was latter pilfered by George Lucas for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

It advocates the little known theory that the most deadly martial art ever created is, in fact, the ground game advocated by legendary college football coach, Bear Bryant.

The score is by Queen, at their most bombastic. But in between Freddy Mercury doing whatever it is he does to sing those lines with a complete lack of irony (‘Flash… Ah Ahh… He’s a miracle’), Brian May is an awesome guitarist and they put some great, propulsive beats into the music.

And, for the first time since 1980, I got to see it on the big screen.


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