Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Flesh Gordon (Howard Ziehm, 1974)

The tenants of porno chic and state of the art visual effects repeatedly collide with one another in the deliriously campy Flesh Gordon, the raunchy space adventure from... Ugh, I don't like that at all. I mean, I sound like a real douchebag. Speaking of things you insert in [hopefully] damp places, is this first film to feature the word dildo as an insult? I have no way of backing this up, but I think this is where dildo started its long, arduous journey to becoming a respectable putdown. I know Chevy Chase and others of his ilk used the term as far back as the late '70s, but this is the film, directed by Howard Ziehm and Michael Benvensiste, where it all began. If I'm wrong, I will happily retract everything I just said. In the meantime, until I'm told otherwise, the word "dildo" was first used in Flesh Gordon, and that's that. Oh, and you might have noticed that I used the word douchebag in the lead up to my dildo-based proclamation. I had read somewhere that Lily Tomlin considered the word douchebag to be sexist when used by males in a perjorative context. When I read this, I agreed, and ceased using the word from that day forward. However, it later came to my attention that Lily Tomlin disapproved of the classic music video for the Devo song "Whip It" back in the '80s (again, something to do with it being sexist). When I heard this I thought to myself: I can't take linguistic council from a person who's not down with Devo. So, without fail, I re-entered "douchebag," "douche" and "douchebaggery" back into my vocabulary. In conclusion, let that be a lesson to all of you. (And that is?) Sorry. Don't fuck with Devo.

Favourite uses of the word dildo in a movie or television show: "Goddamn-dipshit-Rodriguez-gypsy-dildo-punks." - Bud, Repo Man and "I don't think that I need to sit with you fuckin' dildos anymore." - John, The Breakfast Club

Favourite use of Devo in a movie or television show: "Going Under" (from the album, "New Traditionalists"), Miami Vice (from the episode, "Heart of Darkness")

Thank you for indulging in my mini-vocabulary rant. We now return to our regularly scheduled movie review.

I was going to start complaining about how Flesh Gordon wasn't sleazy enough for my taste. But then it dawned on me. There's a scene in the film where Flesh Gordon (Jason Williams), Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins) and Prince Precious (Lance Larsen) try to shake loose a power pastie that's been lodged in the hard to reach confines of Rene Bond's well-travelled vagina. (Hold on, if her vagina is hard to reach, how can it be well-travelled at the same time?) You really want me to answer that? Never mind. Anyway, the film is definitely sleazy enough. Trust me, I should now.

A power pastie, by the way, is a powerful weapon Queen Amora (Nora Wieternik) bestows on Flesh Gordon after they make sweet love in her giant space swan. And when worn on the nipples, as Dr. Jerkoff does on several occasions, they enable the person wearing them to fire laser beams... from their nipples. (Where else would they fire from?) I just wanted to make sure people realized they fired laser beams from their nipples and not somewhere more conventional -- you know, like, your eyes or from the tip of your penis.

How the power pasties bestowed to Flesh Gordon by Queen Amora ended up on Dr. Jerkoff's nipples and then ultimately crammed into Rene Bond's well-travelled vagina is a long and complicated story. However, since I'm not one to shirk from things that are long, or things that are complicated for that matter, I plan on diving head first into this film's murky stew with my trademark gusto. (Don't forget your trademark verve.) Oh, yes, how could I forget. There will be verve.

After a lengthy disclaimer that states that this film is a satire and is in no way to be confused with Flash Gordon, and a beautiful opening credits sequence (Corny Cole), the film begins, where else, on Earth. But not the Earth you and I know, no, this Earth is overrun with an affliction known simply as sex madness.

The story finds Flesh Gordon meeting Dale Ardor (Suzanne Fields) aboard a plane. When the plane's pilots leave the cockpit in order to partake in the impromptu orgy that has broken out in coach, the plane begins to crash. Jumping out of the plane via a parachute, Flesh and Dale land near the secret lab belonging to Dr. Flexi Jerkoff. Before I continue, I'd like to point out that one of the pilots unsuccessfully tries to put Dale's foot in his mouth during the coach orgy and that Dale gives Flesh a blow job while they parachuted to safety.

Oh, and if the plot so far sounds eerily similar to the plot of the Flash Gordon film that came out years later, that's because it is...eerily similar.

Determined to find out what's causing the Earth's population to behave like a bunch of sex-craved maniacs, Flesh and Dale agree to accompany Dr. Jerkoff in his penis-shaped spaceship.

As expected, their journey leads them to Planet Porno, a dastardly rock ruled with a limp-wristed fist by Emperor Wang the Perverted (William Dennis Hunt), an impotent tyrant who commands an army of dickless chuckleheads.

Just as Emperor Wang is about to put Flesh in the "sex depletor" (they're captured shortly after crash landing on the planet), Amora, Queen of Darkness and the Guardian of the Sacred Power Pasties, appears in Wang's thrown room and states that she wants Flesh for herself. In order to claim Flesh, Wang says that he must wrestle three deranged women in the arena. When Flesh wins (Flesh can wrestle deranged women with his eyes closed), Amora swoops in to claim her prize. Ushering him aboard her giant space swan, Amora fucks Flesh utilizing a series of thrusting motions and the occasional moan-assisted hump.

Meanwhile, Dale is to marry Wang (he says of Dale upon meeting her, "My eyes have never behold such loveliness") and Dr. Jerkoff is being forced to do science stuff in Wang's lab. While Dr. Jerkoff is smart enough to outwit his captors and escape (quickly reuniting with Flesh), Dale isn't so lucky. (Are you saying Dale is too stupid to escape.) I wouldn't exactly go that far, but she isn't the brightest bulb in the egg carton of life, if you know what I mean.

I'll give her this, she sure can writhe. (Writhe?) Yeah, writhe. You know, squirm, wriggle, twist... Writhe! At any rate, when Flesh and Jerkoff crash Wang's wedding, an enchanting woman with long black hair ushers Dale to the Amazon Underground of Porno. A girly, subterranean realm ruled by Candy Samples (a unruly dyke wearing a ruby-encrusted eye-patch and metal leg brace), Dale has her clothes ripped from her body (all that remains is a single black hold up stocking) and is strapped to a gurney. Kudos to the director(s) for providing us with an overhead shot of Dale as she writhes on the gurney in one black hold up stocking. I love writhing.

(Did it ever occur to you that the fact that the Amazonians left one of Dale's black hold up stockings on wasn't accident?) Huh? (If you look closely, you'll notice that Candy Samples is wearing one black hold up stocking as well. However, it can't be mandatory, as some of the other Amazon women are clearly wearing two hold up stockings.) Nonetheless, after inspecting the troops (checking to make sure their nipples were in order), Candy Samples chooses a black Amazonian woman to be the first to ravish Dale. Midway through the black lesbian rape, Flesh and Jerkoff show up to break things up. And with the help of Prince Precious, a Robin Hood-esque character who digs gay sex and knitting just as much as he hates Wang, they manage to usher Dale to safety.

Am I crazy or are the special effects in this film pretty great? After doing some mild research, I soon discovered that the majority of the effects crew on Flesh Gordon went on to have successful careers in the visual effects field. Seriously, the stop-motion animation beetle, the one-eyed penis monsters, and King Kong-style creature (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) were all well done. The robots with drill penises were excellent, too (though, they weren't created using stop-motion animation).

Grabbing Dale, the King Kong-style creature takes her to the top of the Tower of Murder (it's where he likes to hang out). Why am I mentioning this? Oh, yeah, when the creature gets Dale to the top, he says, "I wonder how you'd look in black nylons." All right King Kong-style creature who appears at the end of Flesh Gordon, I like the where your head is at.


  1. you think Craig T. Nelson puts this one on his resume? Voice of Pixar's Mr. Incredible and the monster in the X-rated Flesh Gordon? LOL. Guy has range.

    1. According to the Flesh Gordon director's commentary, Craig T. was a struggling stand up comedian in the early '70s. In other words, work is work.

      Speaking of work, I just found out Matthew McConaughey won an Oscar recently. That means both the stars of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation are Oscar winners.