FLESH GORDON (1974)
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Flesh Gordon is an X-rated, soft-core porn spoof of the classic Flash Gordon movie serial that has gained cult classic status. It follows the sexploits of Flesh Gordon (Jason WIlliams), son of a famous scientist (John Hoyt), as he reluctantly joins Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins) and pretty Dale Ardor (Suzanne Fields) on a desperate mission into space. A sex ray from a mysterious planet has been turning the Earth into one big orgy and the three valiantly board their penis shaped spacecraft to try to find and destroy it’s source. They reach the planet Porno, ruled by the evil and perverted Emperor Wang (William Hunt), who wants to spread his debauchery throughout the galaxy. Flesh and co. meet all sorts of sexually charged characters, creatures and perils as they try to defeat Wang and save the Earth.
Flick is directed by Michael Benveniste and Howard Ziehm from Beneniste’s script. It actually follows the plot of the 1936 Flash Gordon, with Buster Crabbe, very closely, substituting it’s wholesome plot with sexual innuendoes and comic bookish characters with dominatrixes (Candy Samples), gay woodsmen (Mycle Brandy), penisauruses and rapist robots. Story-wise it is an amusing parody, but nothing special and may have been a mostly forgotten oddity, remembered by only the most die hard exploitation movie fan, if not for it’s surprisingly good special FX for such a low budget indie exploitation production. Made for under $500,000, the film has quality matte paintings, detailed models and even some impressive stop-motion animation to accent it’s naughty, homage-filled tale. This was accomplished by some future legends of SPFX, such as seven time Oscar winning make-up artist Rick Baker, David Allen, Jim Danforth, Greg Jein, artist Mike Minor and Academy Award winning movie explosion expert Joe Viskocil. The movie is a virtual who’s who of future SPFX artists, who would all go on to work on top notch productions and win accolades in their fields for their skills. The cast, aside from veteran actor John Hoyt, were unknowns or porn actors and most hired for their looks and not being afraid to shed their clothes. No need to discuss performances in detail, though WIlliams makes a decent hero, porn star Fields, a pretty heroine and Hunt is completely over-the-top as Wang. If you think the voice of the giant, stop-motion Great God Porno sounds familiar, that’s Mr. Incredible himself Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist, The Incredibles 1 & 2), in an uncredited voice role. Sure, most of the jokes are kinda corny and stale by now, but it is amusing and, in it’s own raunchy way, a love letter to the heroes of yesteryear and old school movie serials. There is a good score by Ralph Ferraro, Howard Ziehm’s cinematography fits the comic book tone and the SPFX artistry amongst all the cheap sex gags are worth watching it for alone. If nothing else, it is a good example of talented people accomplishing a lot with a little.
In conclusion, this film is now a cult classic and one can understand why. On one hand, the film in itself is a forgettable sex spoof and an outdated one. On the other hand, it is a heartfelt tribute to the subject matter it naughtily spoofs and the SPFX were impressive, for it’s time, as is the list of names that created them. Whether you are a fan of independent films, impressive special FX done on a shoestring budget, or curiosities of sci-fi cinema, Flesh Gordon is worth a look and even more fun with the right beverages to accompany it.
Rated 3 (out of 4) horny, foul mouthed, stop-motion creatures that sound suspiciously familiar.