Thursday, 25 February 2016

Flesh Gordon Double Bill

For the first time I feel it necessary to say that this review is for a mature audience only, if you are under 18 come back on your 18th Birthday, it'll be like a Birthday present!

Well we all knew sooner or later I would end up reviewing a porno, well thats not really fair, the Flesh Gordon films aren’t really porn film but more in the vain of sex comedy’s like the 'Confessions...' series or 'The Cheerleaders (1973)', there are rumours of a version of the first film that containes hardcore sex scenes but apparently no copy exist as all were destroyed in a police raid.

My DVD of the first Flesh Gordon (1974) boast that it's 'the spaced age sex spoof that is out of the world' and thats pretty spot on, the film opens with a text crawl reassuring the audience that this is a homage to the classic serials such as Buck Rogers, Superman and of course Flash Gordon. And the film really does feel like a loving homage rather than mean spirited like so many modern comedy spoofs, there really seems to be a love for these classic serials.

The plot to the first film will sound familiar to any Flash Gordon fan, though of course a little different, Flesh Gordon (Jason Williams), Dale Ardor (Suzanne Fields) and Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins) blast off in a rocket ship of Jerkoff's own design to the planet Porno after the planet has appeared in our galaxy and started bombarding Earth with a sex ray that makes people sex crazy. It's a good homage to the first story line of the 1936 Flash Gordon serials and comics, the same plot that would later be the basis of the 1980 feature film version. There are a lot of sex joke's and nudity in the film, as well as some impressive stop motion animation, no surprise that many of the effects people who worked on the film would go on to win awards later in their carriers. In fact Flesh Gordon was nominated for the best special effects at the academy awards until they decided to drop the category that year, which really is a shame as I would love to see Flesh Gordon in HMV's Oscar Winners section they put up every year around awards season.

There are bits of the film that have not aged well, such as the Fu Manchu appearance of the villainous Emperor Wang (William Dennis Hunt), you could argue it's so over the top that it's parodying this practice from classic serials and it's not out of place really as a Emperor Ming parody but it's still pretty bad. There are other elements that unfortunately have not aged well but I won't get into them all, just keep on mind when watching this film that it is of another time.

But over all the film is good, good parody, good effects, good set design and good costumes, over all very good.

Fifieen years later in (1989) we got a sequel called Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders which sees Flesh, Dale and Jerkoff (this time played by Vince Murdocco, Robyn Kelly and Tony Travis respectivley) once again thrust into a mad cap space adventure. This is the one I was more hesitant going into as it is a film that has been named with the overused moniker of 'worst film ever made' but once again it's good, it lacks the charm of the original and is much more bad taste but I genuinely found it funny.

This time Flesh is kidnapped by the Cosmic Cheerleaders in the hope that he can help after all the men of their planet have been struck with impotence after the Evil Presence has fired a mysterious ray at their planet. I wount go into too much detail in what happens on the journey as some of it really has to be see to be believed, but fair warning the humour is much more scatological this time around and once again, it is very bad taste.

All that been said I did have a lot of fun with both films, not for everyone, nowhere near for everyone, but for what they are if you are in the right mindset you can have a lot of fun with them.

Oh, and the theme song to the second film; All American Hero by Rod Knowlan is amazing and would likely make it onto my list of favoured film theme songs!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Screen Queens February 2016

So this weekend I was at a small event in London called Screen Queens, organised and run by British B-movie star and Big Brother alumni Eileen Daly, the day was held to raise funds for her upcoming film project 'She's a Bitch' (which might be one of the best name's for a werewolf film ever). The day featured two film screenings, a couple poetry readings, Q and A's with the cast and crew of the films and another with horror author C. J. Lines, some burlesque acts and a disco.

Myself and Eileen Daly

The films we watched were written, directed and staring Eileen Daly, both part of a series about a paranormal investigation television show, 'Hollywood Betrayed' and 'First Bite is the Deepest', both were great little off the wall comedies made on, in the film makers own words, no budget, 'She's a Bitch' is the planned next film in the series.

There are plans to host more of these little events in the future and I really hope they happen., I had a great time and met some fab people, I even got my Razor Blade Smile poster signed which made me one happy horror hound indeed.

Here are just some of my photos from the event.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

Based on the most famous creation of French comic maker Jean-Claude Forest, the 1968 film Barbarella (also known as Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy) is fantastically fun, enjoyably camp, wonderfully sexy and it is very very 60's. Jane Fonda stars as the titular character with main supporting roles been played by John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O'Shea, Ugo Tognazzi, Marcel Marceau and David Hemmings.

Never having read the comic I can't speak to its accuracy to the source material but the plot here is pretty straight forward, space adventurer Barbarella is ordered by the president of earth to retrieve Doctor Duran Duran, one of the few humans still creating weapons in this enlightened future, one weapon the Earth government fear more than any other is the Positronic Ray, so deadly powerful they fear the repercussions that could result from it landing in the wrong hands. So Barbarella heads to the 16th planet of Tau Ceti to find the Doctor, but things are not so easy as she must face robots, murderous children, mad scientists, and The Great Tyrant, though a few allies aid her including the resistanc against the Tyrant and even an Angel.

Barbarella hertself is a wounderfull character, a dearing space adventurer but with a kind innocence about her, Fonda herself said that 'Barbarella is not a vamp and her sexuality is not measured by the rules of our society. She is not being promiscuous, but she follows the natural reaction of another type of upbringing'.  Director Roger Vadim also commented on this by saying 'She is going to be an uninhibited girl, not being weighed down by thousands and thousands of years of Puritan education.'  He also said 'She is just a lovely, average girl with a terrific space record and a lovely body.'  I feel these quotes perfectly describe the character, they aimed for the character to be a certan way and they sucseeded.

The first thing you'll notice about this film is it is the absolute definition of abstract 60's weirdness, there is not one set or location that isn't interesting just to look at and the same goes for the costume design (Barbarella herself goes through many costume changes), I don't even know where to begin describing it, it's just something that must be seen for oneself.

There are some wonderful idea's such as Sogo, the City of Night where evil is rewarded and anyone good is cast to The Labyrinth beneath where they seem to either eventually fade from existence or merge with the stone walls that entrap them. Or how on this planet Children are left to fend for themselves in the wilderness until they become of age when they are captured by the Catchmen and brought to Sogo. Little things like this can really build up what this alien world is like and how different it is from Earth and what we would consider normal.

We get some ideas of what future Earth is like too, weapons are no longer been made as there is a new era of peach and enlightenment, sex has been replaces with pills that give you a similar sensation. You know the more I describe this the more it sounds like this could be the same future from Demolition Man... now there's a crossover idea, Barbarella vs John Spartan!

Now saying that sex has become old hat and replaced with a non physical contact variation on Earth, by as said it the quotes I used above Barbarella does become intimate with a few of the sexy men she encounters, the 16th planet of Tau Ceti still practices what Barbarella describes as a 'distracting and a danger to maximum efficiency', though once she experiences it herself she changes her mind towards it, though she still thinks she was right about it been a distraction.  And lets not forget the famous 'death by orgasm' machine one of the villains attempts to kill her with.

This film is a hoot and really must be experienced, so blast off for the 16th planet of Tau Ceti and watch Barbarella as your in flight film!