Flesh Gordon

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Flesh Gordon
Flesh Gordon (1974).jpg
UK theatrical poster; artwork by George Barr
Directed byMichael Benveniste
Howard Ziehm
Produced byWalter R. Cichy
Bill Osco
Howard Ziehm
Written byMichael Benveniste
Narrated byRobert V. Greene
StarringJason Williams
Suzanne Fields
Joseph Hudgins
William Dennis Hunt
Candy Samples
Mycle Brandy
John Hoyt
Music byRalph Ferraro
CinematographyHoward Ziehm
Editing byAbbas Amin
StudioGraffiti Productions
Distributed byMammoth Films
Release dates
  • July 30, 1974 (1974-07-30)
Running time78 minutes
90 minutes (Collector's edition)[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$470,000
Box office$906,000
 
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Flesh Gordon
Flesh Gordon (1974).jpg
UK theatrical poster; artwork by George Barr
Directed byMichael Benveniste
Howard Ziehm
Produced byWalter R. Cichy
Bill Osco
Howard Ziehm
Written byMichael Benveniste
Narrated byRobert V. Greene
StarringJason Williams
Suzanne Fields
Joseph Hudgins
William Dennis Hunt
Candy Samples
Mycle Brandy
John Hoyt
Music byRalph Ferraro
CinematographyHoward Ziehm
Editing byAbbas Amin
StudioGraffiti Productions
Distributed byMammoth Films
Release dates
  • July 30, 1974 (1974-07-30)
Running time78 minutes
90 minutes (Collector's edition)[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$470,000
Box office$906,000

Flesh Gordon is a 1974 American erotic science fiction adventure comedy film. It is an erotic spoof of the Universal Pictures Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s.[2] The screenplay was written by Michael Benveniste, who also co-directed the film with Howard Ziehm. The movie was produced by Bill Osco. The cast includes Jason Williams, Suzanne Fields, and William Dennis Hunt.

The film had an MPAA rating of X, but was also re-edited for a reduced rating of R. It has an original runtime of 78 minutes, and the unrated "collector's edition" release runs 90 minutes.

Plot[edit]

The storyline is reminiscent of the original Flash Gordon serials, but done with a generally campy flavor. The character names are suggestive innuendos, based on the character names from the first of those multi-chapter serials: the hero Flesh Gordon; his love interest Dale Ardor; the evil Emperor Wang the Perverted; Dr. Flexi Jerkoff; Amora, Queen of Magic; and a very gay Robin Hood-like character called Prince Precious.

Emperor Wang aims a "Sex Ray" at the Earth from his home world of Porno, and the entire population becomes hopelessly sexually obsessed; it is up to Flesh Gordon and Flexi Jerkoff (Dr. "J") to stop the rays and save humanity's virtue. The film uses nudity whenever possible, and the scenes are shot in a style nearly identical to those of the original serials. After their rocket ship lands on Porno, a sauropod dinosaur with a glans-like head is observed. Flesh asks Dr. "J", "What's that"? "Must be some kind of Penisaurus", Dr. "J" earnestly replies.

A towering, demonic-looking creature, the Great God Porno, voiced (uncredited) by actor Craig T. Nelson, brought out of hibernation by Emperor Wang, makes an appearance, muttering obscenities and wise-cracks in an always velvety smooth, unwavering, almost monotone voice; the creature's final fate becomes a major plot point of the film.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was shot in 1971 and, according to Bill Osco, cost $470,000. Osco intended to hold out for a major distributor to pay a $1 million advance to secure the American release rights.[3]

The film employed special effects artists who would later gain Hollywood fame, including Mike Minor, Greg Jein, and Rick Baker. Established effects artists Jim Danforth (credited backward as Mij Htrofnad) and Dave Allen also took part in the film.

Flesh Gordon's low-budget effects were achieved using old-fashioned techniques. 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, and described the 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 credit 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 film's climactic monster was not 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 dialogue, the effects crew named him "Nesuahyrrah," a tribute to stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen, spelling his name backwards.[4]

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 the throne room orgy scenes, the "collector's edition" video, labelled "the original, uncensored version", is no more explicit than any of the earlier releases.

Also according to Ziehm's DVD audio commentary, Universal Pictures was planning to sue Graffiti Productions due to the first part of the film was so similar to the first chapter of the 1936 Universal 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 super heroes of America's past, and the disclaimer "Not to be confused with the original Flash Gordon" was added to all advertising materials.

Critical reception[edit]

Vivian Sobchack commented that this film is "a skin flick hilariously molded around the Flash Gordon serials, and fully and lovingly aware of genre conventions from special effects to dialogue".[2] Rotten Tomatoes currently has the film with a 67% 'fresh' rating.[5]

Legacy[edit]

A sequel, Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders, followed in 1989, and a four-issue comic book miniseries 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. ^ a b Sobchack, Vivian Carol (1997). Screening space: the American science fiction film (2nd ed.). Rutgers University Press. p. 165. ISBN 0-8135-2492-X. 
  3. ^ Haber, Joyce (14 November 1971). "Joyce Haber's Hollywood: A Very Good Year for Andy". The Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas). p. 7. 
  4. ^ Pettigrew, Neil, The Stop Motion Filmography, MacFarland and Company, Inc., 1999, p. 251.
  5. ^ Flesh Gordon at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ Flesh Gordon Special Edition #1-4 (1992)

External links[edit]