"Klytus, I'm bored. What play thing can you offer me today?"
Cheese, Sire! Pure, unadulterated cheese.
I have films that serve certain roles in my life. There're a few films that I pretty much only watch when I'm ill because they are guaranteed to make me feel better; 'Singin' in the Rain' is one of them, the Peter Falk wrestling movie 'California Dolls' ('All The Marbles' in the US) is another and the pitch perfect creature feature 'Tremors' is a definite. When I'm feeling at odds with the world then 'Amelie' or (the original) 'Harvey' goes on but when I want to be festive and get all Christmassy then the gloriously camp extravaganza that is 'Flash Gordon' is the only candidate.
Sam Jones' outrageously wooden acting (although he's still better than ex-Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan having his manhood tested), Peter Wyngarde's magnificently sleazy henchman, Klytus, Brian Blessed BELLOWING EVERY LINE whilst dressed in feathery underpants and gold wings, Max von Sydow's lecherous tyrant Ming and, of course, there's the lurid, day-glo plastic sets made with all the restraint of a toddler in a sweet shop and all the better for it.
And then there's that soundtrack.
When Queen recorded the album in late 1980 they were riding high on the back of a series of massive selling albums and two recent global hit singles with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust" so a synthesizer heavy, predominantly instrumental soundtrack to a sci-fi B-movie could be seen as an odd move but this is a band that put an opera bit in the middle of their signature tune so odd moves were par for the course. The soundtrack is a glorious mess of rock licks, ambient synthscapes and radiophonic electronic twiddles interlaced with choice pieces of dialogue with the tracks running into each other so the whole thing sounds like a massive prog rock concept album.
In those pre home video days if the TV wasn't showing it albums like this alongside the novelisations were the only way you had of reliving a favourite. As a sci-fi obsessed 11 year old in 1981 listening to this album (along with Jeff Wayne's 'The War of the Worlds') through giant headphones on a beaten up Panasonic cassette recorder got me through a bout of chicken pox quarantined at my grandparents house for a week with only one comic to read. As a result I know every wibble, wobble and word and it holds a special place in my heart.
So, with Xmas only 4 days away it's time to unwrap a favourite, sit back with a tasty beverage and enjoy.
Buy it here - Flash Gordon