Watch it: Flash Gordon (1980)
1980: I’m seven years old. I’m at the movies with my family, seeing Flash Gordon. The candy-colored, art deco spectacle of it all blows my little mind; it’s even more impressive than the giant robot dinosaurs of The Empire Strikes Back. And when you’re a seven year-old boy, nothing beats giant robot dinosaurs.
1985: Visiting with my uncle in Chapel Hill, NC. We rent Flash Gordon and I’m thrilled to be able to see it again. The camp value of the homoerotic S&M imagery and rampant sexual innuendo is still pretty much over my head, but it makes my family crack up in glee. I’m embarrassed; I just think they’re laughing because my favorite movie is a pathetic mess.
Present day: Flash Gordon is once again one of my top five favorite films. Why? Because it is campy as all get out; because there is rampant sexual innuendo; because it does star Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Ingmar Bergman’s leading man; because the whole movie is a loud, shuddering orgasm of 1930′s-on-mushroo0ms-science-fiction-design; because some of the special effects are pretty lousy but at least they aren’t CGI; because the gorgeous cast was responsible for a lot of kids’ sexual awakenings; and because the soundtrack is by Queen and MY GOD does it rock.
That’s why. So there.