Flesh Gordon [1974]

Directors Howard Ziehm and Michael Benveniste draw from the same cliffhanging Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s as the glitzy 1980 tongue-in-cheek space opera for their soft-core spoof. Hockey hero Flesh Gordon and often-naked love interest Dale Ardor join Dr. Jerkoff in his battle against the mad Emperor Wang from the planet Porno, who has unleashed his diabolical sex ray on the Earth. Full of toilet humor, juvenile sexual innuendo, and unending naked romps and orgies, it's hardly in the same company as the Mel Brooks genre goofs Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. But amidst the slack direction, flat performances, and grungy photography are some lovingly crafted low-tech effects, including marvelous stop-motion creatures from Jim Danforth and spaceships courtesy of future Oscar winners Greg Jein and Dennis Muren. The film's best sequence is a King Kong tribute with a giant rampaging satyr (voiced by an uncredited Craig T. Nelson, who ad-libs quips in a cultured but expletive-filled whine) kidnapping Dale as Flesh buzzes him his phallic space ship. All the restoration in the world won't make this dark, grainy, bargain-basement parody look any better, but the retro effects, inspired score, and playful attitude make this silly sex romp a kitschy cult item from the randy 1970s. --Sean Axmaker

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