Flash Gordon – Saving the Universe for 88 Years


For many casual film fans, the only version of Flash Gordon they may know is the 1980 movie, most likely because of the theme song by rock band Queen. However, for those who appreciate diving into film history a little deeper, they are at least familiar with the Buster Crabbe chapter serials of the late 30s. But where did Flash Gordon really originate from and what does the future hold for the legendary space hero?

In 1929, Philip Francis Nowlan created the character of Buck Rogers, a spacefaring adventure hero who debuted in daily US newspapers on January 7. The strip was syndicated by the National Newspaper Service and soon inspired a variety of other science fiction strips. While many of us have forgotten Brick Bradford and Speed Spaulding, one hero who made his debut in 1934 is well-remembered today…Flash Gordon. It’s no secret that Alex Raymond created Flash to be direct competition for the Buck Rogers strip. King Features Syndicate had originally wanted John Carter of Mars, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. However, when a deal with Burroughs could not be reached, it turned to staff artist Alex Raymond to create a new hero.

Flash Gordon is a dashing young college graduate who is kidnapped, along with his companion Dale Arden, by Dr. Hans Zarkov, who has come up with a plan to stop Earth’s impending collision with the planet Mongo. After leaving Earth in a rocket ship and crash landing on Mongo, they save Earth but encounter the evil Ming the Merciless. In the years that followed, they would encounter various kingdoms and rulers in their never-ending battle to defeat Ming.

The original daily strip ran daily from 1934 to 1992, outlasting Buck Rogers, which had ended its original run in 1967. The Sunday strips continued until 2003 and it is still being reprinted today. But Flash Gordon was not limited to newspaper strips. In 1935, The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon radio serial was launched. Gale Gordon, better known as Mr. Mooney in numerous Lucille Ball television shows, played Flash in the stories that essentially followed the weekly Sunday newspaper storylines. After 26 weeks, the program ended and was followed by The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, which ran for 60 more weeks and was an original story set in Atlantis.

Of course, there have been numerous comic book series over the years from such companies as Dell, Harvey, Gold Key and, most recently, Dynamite Entertainment. Even DC and Marvel produced two short-lived series. There was a live-action television series in 1954 on the DuMont Network starring Steve Holland, as well as several recent attempts that are better left unmentioned. There were different animated series, and an animated film, and even a stage play in 1989. Most notably, there was also that 1980 feature film starring Sam J. Jones. The film didn’t do well initially but has become a cult favorite amongst fans and, admittedly, is a lot of fun if you go into it with the right mindset.

Aside from the original newspaper strips, the most memorable part of Flash Gordon’s history came in the form of three chapter serials produced between 1936 and 1940. Buster Crabbe would play the lead role of Flash Gordon with Charles Middleton playing the perfect on-screen version of Ming the Merciless. Over the course of three serials and 40 chapters, Buster became the definitive on-screen version of Flash Gordon. Even when he was hired to play the lead role of Buck Rogers in 1939, it was hard not to see Flash on screen (even part of his uniform as Flash was reused for Buck).

Over the last three summers, Karla and I have laughed our way through the films of Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd. This summer, we’re leaving Earth behind and hitching a ride to Mongo as we’ll be taking a weekly journey through all three chapter serials. Join us beginning next Friday, along with Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov, as we become space soldiers conquering the universe on our trip to Mars. And by the time summer is winding down, we’ll wrap up this series with a look towards the future. If there was ever a time for a hero like Flash Gordon, the time is now!

Classic Horrors Club – Sinbad Meets Ray Harryhausen


The 68th episode of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast is a very special one indeed as Jeff and I are joined by a star of two of the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad films: Kurt Christian! Kurt went from the hero Haroun in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), to the villain Rafi in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). He has great stories to tell about the making of the films and even has a thing or two to say about our first film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958).

Thanks to Steve Turek for hosting the conversation and sharing it with all of us. You can listen to a full interview with Kurt Christian on episode 34 of the DieCast Movie Podcast.

Don’t forget to check out the video companion on our YouTube channel. It’s a special episode containing only exclusive content not available in this month’s podcast! Which creatures from Harryhausen’s mythical menagerie are our favorites? Which ones are yours?

Call us at (616) 649-2582 (CLUB), email at classichorrors.club@gmail.com or join us in our clubhouse at https://www.facebook.com/groups/classichorrors.club/!

We’d also appreciate if you’d give us an honest rating on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud. Thank you!

You can find Jeff at:

Coming up next month, we’re firing up our time machine and returning to the drive-in! All summer, it’ll be double feature madness from the past and our first stop in June features two legends…Vincent Price in Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and Frankenstein 1970 (1958) with Boris Karloff!

Captain Sindbad (1963)


Captain Sindbad (June 19, 1963)
Cast:        Guy Williams as Captain Sindbad
                Heidi Bruhl as Princess Jana
                Pedro Armendariz as El Kerim
                AbrahamSofaer as Galgo
                Bernie Hamilton as Quinius

Written by Ian McLellan Hunter & Guy Endore (billed as Samuel B. West & Harry Relis)
Directed by Byron Haskin

Plot: Captain Sindbad must face the deadly El Kerim before he can marry the lovely Princess Jana.

Richard’s Review: This version of Sinbad was clearly inspired by Ray Harryhausen’s 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) as magic and monsters (and even a shrunken princess) have now entered the fantastical adventures. Sadly, the special effects are not up to Harryhausen’s standards. They aren’t bad but you are left wondering how different the film would have been with Harryhausen’s touch. That said, this is a fun flick to watch on a rainy day or for an afternoon matinee. Sure, it’s a little cheesy at times and there might be a little too much comedy throwing off the balance of adventure. The swamp scenes and battle with the 12-headed dragon-like monster are especially fun. Above all else, I loved Guy Willliams as Sindbad (not sure why they changed the spelling) and his performance is worth the ticket price alone. Not Harryhausen but still a lot of fun and recommended.


  • Guy Williams’ second film was the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). He had also appeared in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) but it was his role of Don Diego in Disney’s Zorro (1957-1961) that had earned him fame. After this film, he appeared in five episodes of Bonanza as Will Cartwright before taking on the lead role of Professor John Robinson in Lost in Space (1965-1968). He then retired from acting and moved to Argentina, where he lived until his death in 1989 at the age of 65 due to a brain aneurysm.  
  • Heidi Bruhl is well-known for her many film roles in her native country of Germany. She’s also remembered in the United States for The Gypsy Baron (1962) and The Eiger Sanction (1975). She died in 1991 at the age of 49 of cancer.
  • Pedro Armendariz was a well-known character actor with this film being the next-to-last of his 128 credits. After filming From Russia with Love (1963), he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, possibly from his involvement in The Conqueror (1956). He was one of 91 cast and crew members who suffered or died from cancer, including John Wayne. Unable to deal with the diagnosis, he committed suicide on June 18, 1963, at the age of 51, before this film’s premiere.
  • Abraham Sofaer was an accomplished character actor with 144 film and TV credits. His last role was in the Horror in the Heights episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker in 1974. He retired and lived until his death in 1988 at age 91.
  • Byron Haskin also directed The War of the Worlds (1953), The Naked Jungle (1954), From the Earth to the Moon (1958), Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) and six episodes of The Outer Limits.     

Availability: Captain Sindbad is available to rent on Amazon Prime and on the Warner Archive Collection DVD for less than $10.

Son of Sinbad (1955)


Son of Sinbad (June 2, 1955)
Cast:        Dale Robertson as Sinbad
                Vincent Price as Omar Khayyam
                Sally Forest as Ameer
                Lili St. Cyr as Nerissa
                Mari Blanchard as Kristina
                Leon Askin as Khalif
                Jay Novello as Jiddah

Written by Jack Pollexfen, Aubrey Wisberg & Jeff Bailey
Directed by Ted Tetzlaff

Plot: Sinbad, accompanied by his sidekick Omar Khayyam, is on the search for beautiful women and the legendary substance known as Greek Fire.

Richard’s Review: There are no Harryhausen creatures here and Sinbad is really more of a womanizer than an adventurer. It’s also a little hard to get past Dale Robertson’s Oklahoman accent. However, the real shining element here is Vincent Price, who is charming and very funny as Omar Khayyam. He’s basically a sidekick to Sinbad but he ends up really being the star of the film. There is also the never ending array of scantily-clad women, including some very seductive dances. It’s a well-made and very colorful film, perfect matinee fluff that won’t disappoint if you know there really is no comparison to the Harryhausen trilogy. Price is well worth the price of admission but just go in with some lower expectations.


  • The film was shot in 1953 but delayed until 1955 due to Lili St. Cyr’s controversial belly dance. It was originally shot in 3D but by the time it was released, 3D was no longer popular and it was converted to the Superscope format. The dance scenes were supposedly censored but remain very risqué, especially for a film from the 1950s.
  • Produced by legendary billionaire Howard Hughes (The Sin of Harold Diddlebock). He made his last film in 1957.
  • Dale Robertson is best remembered for TV westerns Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-1962) and Iron Horse (1966-1968), as well as The One-Eyed Soldiers (1967) and Blood on the Arrow (1964).
  • While Vincent Price was only a supporting character in the film, his legendary status has helped elevate his performance as the standout of the film. He starred in this the same year House of Wax (1953) was released.
  • Sally Forest is also known for The Strip (1951) with Mickey Rooney and The Strange Door (1951), also starring Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff.
  • Mari Blanchard also played Queen Allura in Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953).
  • Leon Askin is best known for his role of General Burkhalter in Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971).
  • Jay Novello had 207 film and TV credits, including The Lost World (1960) and The Mad Magician (1954), as well as countless television appearances.
  • Kim Novak is uncredited as one of the harem girls. She made her film debut the same year this was filmed and is best remembered for such films as Picnic (1955), Vertigo (1958) and Bell, Book and Candle (1958).
  • Woody Strode is uncredited as one of the palace guards. He had made his film debut in 1941 but was still a few years away from achieving greater recognition at the time this was filmed in 1953. He is best remembered for such films as Tarzan’s Three Challenges (1963), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Pork Chop Hill (1959).

Availability: Son of Sinbad has never been released on commercial home video but the RiffTrax version is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

OTR – Sherlock Holmes: The Book of Tobit (1945)


It’s been far too long since we sat by the fire with a glass of Petri wine and listened to the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. So, let’s travel back to March 26, 1945 as Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce star as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in The Book of Tobit.

You can find this episode on the Sherlock Holmes playlist, as well as all of the other great old time radio shows on my YouTube channel!

Lon Chaney – The Unholy Three (1930)


Lon Chaney – The Unholy Three (July 12, 1930)
Cast:        Lon Chaney as Echo the Ventriloquist
                Lila Lee as Rosie O’Grady
                Eliott Nugent as Hector McDonald
                Ivan Linow as Hercules
                Harry Earles as Tweedledee (billed as “midget”)

Written by Tod Robbins
Directed by Jack Conway

Plot: Echo is a sideshow ventriloquist who is paired up with Tweedledee, a midget, and Hercules, a strong man. Collectively, they are known as “The Unholy Three” and the law is closing in on them. Can they commit one more heist and get away with it?

Richard’s Review: This was my first time watching the sound version of The Unholy Three and my initial reaction was being a little underwhelmed. It was interesting to hear Lon Chaney’s voice but it also hindered his performance when he tried to sound like an old woman. It just wasn’t consistently believable. However, I did prefer this ending as it was much more sympathetic to his character and was a wonderful swan song, if not a little sad. I thought Mae Busch was better as Rosie in the silent version, although Lila Lee may have been a little more sympathetic at times. I also preferred Victor McLaglen as Hercules. Ivan Linow was almost too tall and made Lon Chaney appear to be quite small at times, diminishing his screen presence. Harry Earles performance also suffered as his strong accent made him difficult to understand at times, and he seemed more menacing and believable in the 1925 version. Overall, a film definitely worth seeing but for me, I prefer the Tod Browning’s silent 1925 version.


  • Lon Chaney’s last film before his death on August 26, 1930 of throat cancer at the age of 47. His son Creighton, aka Lon Chaney Jr., was 24 at the time of his father’s death.
  • Lila Lee was also known for roles in Blood and Sand (1922) and Another Man’s Wife (1924). However, after a bad marriage, a series of poor film decisions and ill health, her career floundered in the 1930s. Her last film and attempt at a comeback was as Viola Zickafoose in the forgotten Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers (1967). She died in 1973 of a stroke at the age of 72.  
  • Harry Earles starred in 14 films but is fondly remembered for his roles in both version of The Unholy Three, Freaks (1932) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). He mostly left Hollywood in 1930 to work full-time with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. He died in 1985 at the age of 83.
  • Victor McLaglen wanted to reprise his role of Hercules in this film but was contractually obligated to Fox Pictures at the time.
  • The ending to the film was originally to be the same as the silent version, with Echo returning to the sideshow and letting Rosie go back to Hector. However, it was then reshot to show Echo going to prison but be even more sympathetic to Rosie’s wants, ultimately playing out more effectively and giving Lon Chaney a very sad but fitting swan song scene as the train pulls away from the train station with him in the caboose.

Availability: The Unholy Three is currently available on DVD from the Warner Archive Collection.