Flesh Gordon

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Flesh Gordon
Flesh Gordon (1974).jpg
DVD special edition ad art
by George Barr
Directed by Michael Benveniste
Howard Ziehm
Produced by Walter R. Cichy
Bill Osco
Howard Ziehm
Written by Michael Benveniste
Starring Jason Williams
Suzanne Fields
Joseph Hudgins
William Dennis Hunt
Candy Samples
Mycle Brandy
John Hoyt
Narrated by Robert V. Greene
Music by Ralph Ferraro
Cinematography Howard Ziehm
Edited by Abbas Amin
Production
company
Graffiti Productions
Distributed by Mammoth Films
Release dates
  • July 30, 1974 (1974-07-30)
Running time
78 minutes
90 minutes (Collector's edition)[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $470,000
Box office $906,000

Flesh Gordon is an independently made 1974 American science fiction adventure comedy film, an erotic spoof of Universal Pictures' first (of three) Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s. The film was produced by Walter R. Cichy, Bill Osco, and Howard Ziehm and was co-directed by Howard Ziehm and Michael Benveniste, who also wrote the screenplay. The cast includes Jason Williams, Suzanne Fields, and William Dennis Hunt. The film was distributed by Mammoth Films.

The storyline is purposely reminiscent of the first Flash Gordon multi-chapter serial, but written and directed with a purposely campy flavor. The planet Porno (in the serial: Mongo) and major characters are suggestive innuendos: the hero Flesh Gordon (Flash Gordon); his love interest Dale Ardor (Dale Arden); the evil Emperor Wang the Perverted (Ming the Merciless); scientist Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Dr. Alexi Zarkov); seductive Amora, Queen of Magic (Ming's daughter Aura); and effeminate Prince Precious (Prince Barin). The film features production values comparable to the original serial, stop-motion animation of creatures, and frequent use of gratuitous nudity and brief sex scenes.

Plot[edit]

Distinguished professor Gordon explains that Earth is being tormented by periodic "sex rays" which send people into a sexual frenzy. When one of the rays hits the plane carrying Flesh Gordon and Dale Ardor, the pilots abandon the controls and the two protagonists escape the imminent crash by parachute. They land near the workshop of Flexi Jerkoff, who has a plan to stop the rays at the source.

They travel to the planet Porno in Jerkoff's phallic rocket ship, and are briefly hit by a sex ray, resulting a frantic three-way orgy. They crash land after being shot by the minions of Emperor Wang, and are attacked by several one-eyed "penisauruses" before being taken into custody by Wang's soldiers. They are brought before Wang, who is presiding over an orgy of over a dozen men and women. Jerkoff is sent to work in Wang's laboratory, Wang announces his intention to make Dale his wife, and Flesh is to be executed, but is saved when Amora takes him to be her love slave.

Wang shoots Amora's ship down, and Flesh is the only survivor. He is reunited with Jerkoff, and they resume their efforts to defeat Wang, now with Amora's Power Pasties. Wang and Dale's wedding is interrupted when Dale is kidnapped by a lesbian cult, whose Queen attempts to to initiate her. Flesh and Jerkoff save her, unexpectedly aided by Prince Precious of the Forest Kingdom. With help from their new ally, Jerkoff builds a weapon to destroy the sex ray, and they confront Wang. They trick Wang's "rapist robots" into turning on him, but he escapes, seeking the aid of the towering idol of the Great God Porno. Porno comes to life and captures Dale as they flee, blandly commenting on his actions. Jerkoff shoots it, freeing Dale and causing the god to fall on Wang and the sex ray.

Cast[edit]

  • Jason Williams as Flesh Gordon
  • Suzanne Fields as Dale Ardor
  • Joseph Hudgins as Dr. Flexi Jerkoff
  • William Dennis Hunt as Emperor Wang the Perverted
  • John Hoyt as Professor Gordon
  • Candy Samples as Chief Nellie
  • Nora Wieternik as Amora, Queen of Magic
  • Lance Larsen as Prince Precious
  • Jack Rowe as Guard for Emperor Wang
  • Robert V. Greene (voice) as Narrator
  • Craig T. Nelson (uncredited voice) as The Great God Porno

Production[edit]

Flesh Gordon was shot in 1971 and, according to producer Bill Osco, cost $470,000 to make. Osco intended to hold out for a major distributor to pay a $1 million advance to secure the American release rights.[2]

The film was first assigned a MPAA rating of X, but was then re-edited, finally receiving a reclassified rating of R. The film's original running time was 78 minutes, but the later, unrated "collector's edition" video release runs 90 minutes.

Flesh Gordon employed special effects artists who would later gain Hollywood fame, including Mike Minor, Greg Jein, and Rick Baker. Established effects artists Jim Danforth (listed backward in the film credits as Mij Htrofnad) and Dave Allen also worked on the film. The film's low-budget special effects were achieved using old-fashioned techniques: For example, the model of Wang's palace was created using everyday objects, such as drinking glasses, and was designed to resemble Griffith Observatory so actual footage shot at the base of the observatory could be integrated in the film.

Los Angeles-area Star Trek fan and writer Bjo Trimble was a makeup artist on Flesh Gordon; she described these experiences in her book On the Good Ship Enterprise: My 15 Years with Star Trek. Other Los Angeles-area science fiction fans worked, at times, in various capacities on the film, including science fiction and fantasy artist George Barr who designed and illustrated the film's one-sheet movie poster, and Cornelius Cole III, who animated the film's opening title credits sequence. Longtime fan and science fiction and fantasy writer Tom Reamy served in the film's Art Department as the production's Property Master. He tracked down many of the screen-used props in the film, including authentic, full-sized Ford Tri-Motor wicker passenger seats (matching the film's Tri-Motor aircraft miniature) used in an early scene in the film.

The towering creature was not originally intended to speak, but it proved so expressive that dialogue was dubbed over to match its mouth movements. Addressed as the Great God Porno in this dialogue, the special effects crew named him "Nesuahyrrah," a tribute to stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen, spelling his name backwards.[3]

According to Ziehm's DVD audio commentary, the film was originally shot using scenes of straight and gay hardcore pornography. These were cut after Ziehm found himself in legal trouble: Producing pornography in Los Angeles was legally viewed as pandering at that time. The X-rated footage was surrendered to L. A. vice police. Although some explicit shots can be briefly seen during Wang's throne room orgy scenes, the "collector's edition" video, labelled "the original, uncensored version", is no more explicit than any of the earlier video releases.

Also according to Ziehm's DVD audio commentary, Universal Studios was planning to sue Graffiti Productions over the first part of Flesh Gordon being too similar to the first chapter of Universal's 1936 Flash Gordon film serial that it bordered on plagiarism. To avoid a lawsuit, Ziehm added an opening text scroll that stated that Flesh Gordon was a burlesque style parody of the Depression Era superheroes of America's past; he also added "Not to be confused with the original Flash Gordon" to all advertising materials.

Critical reception[edit]

Vivian Sobchack commented that Flesh Gordon is "a skin flick hilariously molded around the Flash Gordon serials, and fully and lovingly aware of genre conventions from special effects to dialogue".[4]

The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes has the film rated with a 'fresh' rating of 67%.[5]

Legacy[edit]

A sequel, Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders, followed in 1989.

A four-issue comic book miniseries, written by Daniel Wilson and published by Aircel Comics, was published in 1992.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FLESH GORDON (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1980-12-18. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  2. ^ Haber, Joyce (14 November 1971). "Joyce Haber's Hollywood: A Very Good Year for Andy". The Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas). p. 7. 
  3. ^ Pettigrew, Neil, The Stop Motion Filmography, MacFarland and Company, Inc., 1999, p. 251.
  4. ^ Sobchack, Vivian Carol (1997). Screening space: the American science fiction film (2nd ed.). Rutgers University Press. p. 165. ISBN 0-8135-2492-X. 
  5. ^ Flesh Gordon at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ Flesh Gordon Special Edition #1-4 (1992)

External links[edit]