Sunday, May 03, 2009

Flash Gordon - Space Soldiers (1936 Serial)

I really thought it would be impossible for a movie to achieve a higher awesomeness quotient than the 1980 version of Flash Gordon. But I've been watching this 1936 serial starring Buster Crabbe in the role, and man...the awesomeness of this thing is just through the roof! Check out these robots:



Obviously, there are a lot of ways in which the 1980 version exceeds. Space Soldiers doesn't have Ornella Mulli or Brian Blessed or Queen. And I never realized how much gravity Max Von Sydow adds to Ming the Merciless until I saw Charles Middleton in the role (not that Middleton is bad, and in fact you have to give some credit to the writers who made 1980 Ming so gleefully evil).



Here's one of three cavemen that Flash has to fight gladiator-style in Ming's court:




Another one (not as funny looking, but the fangs are a nice touch):






Flash dogfighting with the Lion Men's gyroships:




The production values are surprisingly high for a serial. Here's Ming's harem writhing around a giant idol with moving arms:




I love this monster design. Looks like maybe an influence on Eiji Tsuburaya's Godzilla design (come to think of it, it's shot in a style similar to the original Gojira, with high contrast between fiery light and shadow), but it has gigantic lobster-like claws, snake-like scales and a sharp, toothy beak.










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