Buster Crabbe stars as Flash Gordon in this classic 1930s serial presented for the first time on DVD. Humanity is doomed to destruction! A distant planet has broken its orbit and is headed straight toward the Earth. Whi... more »le Dr. Hans Zarkov works feverishly to finish a rocket ship of his own design, internationally renowned polo player and Yale graduate Flash Gordon is a passenger on a small plane where he meets fellow passenger Dale Arden. When a meteor storm destroys their aircraft, Flash and Dale bail out and land near Zarkov's ship. The great scientist enlists them to join him on his quest to save Earth, and the heroic trio blasts off into space to rendezvous with the runaway planet Mongo.« less
Lawrence Rapchak | Whiting, IN United States | 02/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Hays Code hadn't really cracked down yet on filmmaker's when this amazingly cheesy but nonetheless terrific serial was made.Sharkmen, Lion Men, Hawk Men, Octo-sac, Orangupoid, Tigron, giant Gocko Lizard, iguanas with horns that drool slime, some of the worst acting of all time, men running around in short shorts (or full suits of armor, sometimes medieval, sometimes faux roman), goofy rocket ships on wires, underwater cities, sky palaces, atom furnaces, torture rooms---- you name it, you get it here! You will NOT BELIEVE what Flash has to endure within the first day of his adventure---when did he ever eat or sleep to keep up his superhuman strength?? An amazingly wild ride, an adventure that piles one audacious, salacious, lurid, sensational scene on top of another---only near the end of the film, with the incessant trips back and forth between the lab and Ming's throne room does the hectic pace start to slacken.The cast is a hoot! And those of you who know the Three Stooges shorts of the 30's and 40's will howl with delight as you observe:Duke York (the Stooge's "Zulu Spear Thrower", "Wolfman", the Hunchback "Angel", "Nikko", etc) as King Cala of the Shark Men,
(who utters the immortal line "But how does one stop an Octo-sac?")Jack "Tiny" Lipson ("The Bay of Rum", etc) as the nutty King VultanTed Lorch ("Major Filbert can smell a spy a mile away!", etc) as the over-the-top High Priest (Second half of the serial only---the old dude who plays the role in the first half (I think his name was Lon Poff) mysteriously disappears midway through. No loss--he was dreadful). Ted is just plain nuts, especially in his final MAD SCENE ("I placed a BOMB in their ship!!")Also, Richard Alexander (Prince Barin) and the amazing Charles Middleton (MING!) who each appeared in a single Stooges short (in "Spook Louder" Middleton and Ted Lorch appeared together, in a reversal of their Flash Gordon servant/master roles)You also spot a young Glenn Strange (Sam the Bartender from "Gunsmoke", Frankenstein monster w/ Abbott and Costello)
as a soldier/guard during Flash's "Invisible" scenes.And--King Thun is played by James Pierce who was (I believe) the son-in-law of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs. (He was also one of the 2 thugs in Marx Bros. "Horse Feathers"--unfortunately, he was barely an actor).What a digression!!----and what FUN!This first Flash Gordon serial is definitely the goofiest of them all---and it's thankfully been preserved on DVD---looking and sounding about as good as you could hope for (lots of scratches, etc--but still very watchable)--and what's more--IT's COMPLETE! Original Soundtrack, too,--unlike another VHS release
about 10 years ago that actually superimposed a tinny-sounding,
trumpet and snare drum musical track ON TOP of the original!!Lastly, the babes---there's no end to the shots of Dale and Princess Aura in their skimpy halter tops, each ot them lusting after the big guy in their own unique way. Alas, when the second serial appeared two years later, the Hays Code was in full force; you can hardly believe that Dale is the same gal.But for old-time, outrageously off-beat fun, you can't beat "Space Soldiers.""
This Sci-Fi Classic Never Looked Better
Blackhawk | Huntsville, AL USA | 01/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This first of the Flash Gordon serials introduces the characters and quickly immerses them in the adventures and conflicts that audiences expected to see. The acting is impressive, especially Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless. The special effects and sets are really quite good. Sure, they don't compare to what is done routinely in movies today, but this was 1936 and a children's afternoon serial. The DVD transfer is surprisingly good, given the age of the source material. There are scenes that show scratches and dirt, but there are even more scenes that are clear and sharp without noticable blemishes. I compared the DVD image with a video tape, scene by scene, and there really was no comparison. The DVD picture was far superior. The DVD's sound is also an improvement, though again, the source material is a 64 year old mono track and there has not been extensive work to convert it to a multichannel format. But it is clear and understandable. I don't imagine most viewers will have ever seen this material look or sound as good as it does on DVD. The only negative I can offer is that it is packaged in a snapper case. I sure wish it were in an Amaray keep case.If you enjoy a rousing science fantasy adventure and appreciate seeing the roots of modern sci-fi, then I highly recommend this movie."
Great fun for all family members
Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 02/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone will find something to enjoy in this, the original FLASH GORDON serial. The adults will love all the very attractive performers (Buster Crabbe and Jean Rogers as Flash and Dale really glow), the kids will love the excitement as Flash fights all sorts of man-beasts, sea creatures, and minions of Ming the merciless. It's a thrilling comic book come to life, literally!This DVD is an especially good value. Although there aren't any extras except for a foldout snapper case cover with detailed liner notes, the viewer is treated to FOUR HOURS of fun sci-fi/fantasy entertainment. Can't watch four hours? Being a serial means that it's in 13 chapters. Stop anytime! The menu makes it easy to select any chapter you want. But I bet you wouldn't mind plunking your kids down in front of a four hour video once in a while, and you can rest easy knowing that it's safe for kids to watch.Picture quality is quite excellent; although there are flaws in the source material, they usually amount to no more than scratchy sections, usually at reel changes. Sound quality is surprisingly good, especially compared to videotapes of the FLASH GORDON serials. Contrast is good, sharpness seems just right. And, darn it, it's FUN! Very much recommended."
Flash is a Smash!
agumon | Seabrook, Maryland | 05/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so I hear a bunch of people talk about sci-fi movies, I hear Blade Runner, I hear the Matrix, but many people forget the glory that is cliffhanger movie serials. Flash Gordon was one of th first sci-fi serials, trailing only Singin' cowboy Gene Autry's Phantom Empire. People have treated serials bad on video, by editing them, puting out "selected chapters", and releasing bad prints. Flash Gordon stars Buster Crabbe as Flash, Jean Rogers as Dale Arden and the immortal Charles Middleton as Ming the Mericless, Just in case you'd like to know more about cliffhanger serials... The Serial Squadron Voted Flash Gordon the BEST serial of 1936 in a unanimous vote. Need a good movie for a rainy day? A party? Or just early morning watching? You can't go wrong with Flash on you side"
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 02/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, this was my first exposure to the original Flash Gordon serial, after seeing clips of it for years and watching the laughably-bad 1980 feature film. I have to say that although I'm not ready to proclaim it a "classic," I was certainly entertained for four hours. And wasn't that really the point of this short films back in the early days of sound cinema? They packed plenty of action, colorful characters and outrageous situations into each 20-minute chapter.
As a lifelong science-fiction fan, I got a campy kick out of the "science" in this one. My favorite line from the opening chapter: As Dale Arden begins to have trouble breathing as the rocketship carrying Flash, Zarkov and her blasts from Earth's atmosphere, Zarkov apologizes thusly, "Sorry...in all the excitement, I forgot to turn on the oxygen."
If you don't mind leaving your brain at the door, or get a nostalgic thrill from such lurid theatrics, you could do a lot worse than this first Flash series. "