There are a host of criticisms floating around the world of entertainment about the movie Flesh Gordon, yet it still seems to be a bright figment in every avid movie-goer's imagination. It was a movie made for its shock value and solidarity with the cultural experiments of the 70s underground and still is a point of artistic "romance" with modern viewers.
Flesh Gordon is a quasi soft-core porn cult flick, originally intended as an adults only spoof on one of the 1930s' most popular icons. Whereas, Flash Gordon was the savior of the civilized universe against the evil Ming the Merciless, Flesh Gordon liberates the beings of all planets from the evils of Emperor Wang's sex ray. It is evil only because it is not "fully understood."
This movie is highlighted by the B-class efforts of Jason Williams as Flesh Gordon, Suzanne Fields as the incomparable Dale Ardor, and William Dennis Hunt in the role of Emperor Wang the Perverted. When Emperor Wang focuses his highly-charged sex ray on Earth, Flesh Gordon and friends set out on high adventure aboard a stylized phallic-shaped craft to stop him. Along the way, they encounter dangerous orgies, overly-friendly space maidens and alien guys that love to stuff items into the front their trousers. What Flesh and his sidekicks get is a raunchy introduction to "far-out" Castro District-style sexual liberation and several run-ins with cheap, yet effective and entertaining props.
Flesh Gordon can be classified as pulp, soft-core porn, cult expression, spoof homage and 70's Hollywood Erotic chic. Yes, it is all of these. It is also a fun and riotous look into the production experiments of film ideologues that worked in the business four decades ago. Although this film only had a budget of six figures and was rumored to be pieced together from a more explicit project, it remains solidly fun, engaging and embarrassingly interesting.
Viewers of Flesh Gordon will find themselves laughing out loud at the constant raunchy "play-on-words," identifying with familiar settings and symbols from more popular mainstream movies and feeling a little dirty without fully participating in anything…unpalatable. An especially wonderful moment in the film is toward the conclusion, were a cameo of a stop-time animation monstrosity delights connoisseurs of more regal films while adding a large dose of goofiness and flamboyance.
If there is one thing for certain, Flesh Gordon deserves its rightful place at college dorm parties fitted between The Giant Gila Monster and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Don't be surprised if watching Flesh Gordon causes the wearing out of a few Pause and Rewind buttons. It will take a few viewings to be positive that some things on the screen are for real, and not just figments of a skewed imagination, or pops and skips in a poorly edited cinematic peep show.