The Flash Gordon film released in 1980 is quite frankly one of the most ridiculous things ever created, but it’s also one of the most brilliant. It’s like an 80’s rock music video stretched out to 1 hour 51 minutes; at the same time glorious, joyful, messy, strange and wondrous, the kind of film that the phrase ‘cult classic’ was invented for…
Below are 10 things you probably didn’t know about this brilliantly bizarre film…
1. It Was Trying To Appeal To Fans Of Batman
Flash Gordon was co-written by Lorenzo Semple Jr who also developed the 1960’s Batman series, and he was attempting to replicate the Batman show’s camp style. This was in an attempt to appeal to fans of the original Flash Gordon comics and TV shows.
2. George Lucas Could Have Made It Instead Of Star Wars
George Lucas tried to make a Flash Gordon film back in the 1970s. He was unable to purchase the rights, so instead decided to direct another little film you may have heard of called ‘Star Wars’. Just imagine how differently things could have turned out…
3. Its Writer Thought It Was A Bit Of A Mess
The film’s co-writer Lorenzo Semple Jr thought the film was handled badly, saying “Dino (De Laurentiis, the film’s producer) wanted to make Flash Gordon humorous. At the time, I thought that was a possible way to go, but, in hindsight, I realize it was a terrible mistake. We kept fiddling around with the script, trying to decide whether to be funny or realistic. That was a catastrophic thing to do, with so much money involved.”
4. Some Of Flash’s Dialogue Was Dubbed
In 2012 it was revealed that Sam J. Jones (who played Flash) left the film before post production had finished due to disagreements with the film’s producers. This meant that a large amount of his dialogue was re-dubbed by a voice actor, whose identity has remained a secret to this day.
5. It Stars A Former Blue Peter Presenter
Yes, former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan features in a scene where he gets stung by a ‘Wood Beast’, loudly declaring “Spare me the madness!”, before being put out of his misery by a pre James Bond Timothy Dalton. Is this one of the most terrifying scenes in film history, or was it simply because we saw it when we were kids?
6. It Was A Flop Outside The UK
Flash Gordon was a big box office success in the UK, but sadly it performed extremely badly in other areas of the world. Maybe this had something to do with our love for Queen and their amazing soundtrack for the film!
7. They Originally Planned To Make A Sequel
There was originally plans to film a follow up, but this idea was eventually scrapped. If you remember, just before the end credits begin, bad guy Ming’s ring is retrieved by an unknown individual. The words ‘The End?’ then appear as his evil laughter is heard in the background, hinting at the film studio’s plans to continue the franchise.
8. It Has Become A Cult Classic
Over the years Flash Gordon has become a cult classic, and has become a favourite of many in the industry, including director Edgar Wright and comic book artist Alex Ross, who says it is his favourite film of all time.
9. Flash Appears In Another Two Films
Do you know which two fairly recent films feature Sam J. Jones as Flash Gordon? They are ‘Ted’ and ‘Ted 2’, where Flash Gordon is also referenced a number of times throughout. And in 2016, ‘Ted vs. Flash Gordon: The Ultimate Collection’ was released on Blu-ray, which bundled together Flash Gordon alongside unrated versions of both the Ted films.
10. The Film Branched Out Into Other Media
As well as a comic book adaptation of the film, there is also a novelization, and a computer game tie-in was released for the Atari 2600 in 1983. In 2018 a documentary about the film was also released. Called ‘Life After Flash’ it featured interviews with cast members and crew, as well as fans of the film.