Classic Horrors Club – Nothing Can Possible Go Worng!

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This month, Jeff and I go on a vacation to the adult theme parks, Westworld and Futureworld. Learn a lot about the two movies of the same names from 1973 and 1976, respectively, as well as a little about the short lived TV series, Beyond Westworld, and the currently-running HBO series, Westworld. We offer you fantasy, sensuality and adventure, complete satisfaction guaranteed! Tune into episode 72 of the Classic Horrors Club podcast because boy, have we got a story for you!

Don’t forget to check out the video companion on our YouTube channel. Put images to the voices… if you dare!

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, it’s the Halloween season and we’ll offer up a double dose of Poe’s The Raven. First, the 1935 version starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Then, the 1963 version with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and, once again, Mr. Karloff!

The Continuing Adventures of Flash Gordon

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As we conclude our Summer of Flash Gordon with the end of the original three chapter serials, you may find that you want to explore more adventures of Flash and his friends. So, here are a few options to keep you entertained as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler.

The 1954 television series

When Universal Pictures lost the production rights to Flash Gordon, former Universal executives Edward Gruskin and Matty Fox signed a new deal with King Features Syndicate to produce a new television series on the DuMont Television Network. It was filmed in West Berlin and Marseille as part of a joint German, French and United States production.

The story differs from the original comic strips as its set in the far future of 3203. Flash, Dale and Zarkov are agents of the Galactic Bureau of Investigation traveling space aboard their ship, the Sky Flash, and battling an assortment of villains with Ming the Merciless nowhere in sight. Steve Holland assumed the lead role of Flash with Irene Champlin as Dale and Joseph Nash as Zarkov. A total of 39 episodes were produced and aired from the fall of 1954 until the summer of 1955. While the show was popular at the time, most modern reviews find it disappointing due to the lack of Buster Crabbe and the now rather obvious poor production values. Fourteen episodes are currently available in the public domain to give you an example of what this series had to offer.

Flash Gordon’s Trip to the 80s

In 1980, producer Dino de Laurentis brought to life a rather polarizing new version of Flash Gordon. Sam J. Jones takes on the lead role and, to be fair, is not quite Buster Crabbe. However, despite his performance being almost ridiculed at the time, Sam has become a definite cult favorite as has the film. Sure, it’s campy and the special effects are questionable at times but so was the original. Max Von Sydow is truly great as Ming and Brian Blessed is so much fun as Prince Vultan. The rest of the cast does well in truly Saturday afternoon matinee fashion. And if don’t get excited when Queen’s theme song plays, I’m not sure this movie is for you. Go into it with a childlike fascination and immerse yourself in the moment and there’s no way you can’t have fun watching this cult classic.

Flash Conquers Animation

There have been several animated versions of Flash in the last four decades. The first was The New Adventures of Flash Gordon, which ran for 32 episodes on NBC television from 1979-1982. The first season would follow the more traditional storylines from the original comic strips in a serialized format. Unfortunately, changes were made in the second season with the inclusion of a pet dragon and more episodic stories. Robert Ridgley, better known for being the voice of Tarzan in the popular Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle series (1976-1980), played Flash with Alan Oppenheimer, the second Dr. Rudy Wells on The Six Million Dollar Man, playing both Dr. Zarkov and Ming the Merciless.

In 1982, Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All, was broadcast on NBC three years after being completed. It was originally made during the big Star Wars rush of copycat productions. However, it was never released as it was reworked into the NBC series. Various storylines were more adult in nature, including Ming providing weapons to Adolf Hitler, more revealing costumes and graphic creatures. Most critics view this as one of the more faithful adaptations.

In the fall of 1986, 65 episodes of Defenders of the Earth were produced for syndication. Flash teams up with other legendary heroes, such as The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, to battle Ming’s plans to conquer Earth after Mongo’s resources have been depleted. With the addition of the main characters children as sidekicks, this new adventure was well received at the time and is still fondly remembered.

Flash and the Terrors of Modern Television

In 1996, Alex aka “Flash” and Dale were seen as teenagers battling Ming in the short-lived syndicated series Flash Gordon. The more contemporary take didn’t quite go over well with long-time fans and the series was quickly forgotten, much like the somewhat similar modernized live action series that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel from August 2007 to February 2008. Eric Johnson starred as Steven aka “Flash” with Gina Holden as his ex-girlfriend Dale, now a TV reporter. This was an even more loosely adapted version and was not well-received at all. Most diehard Flash Gordon fans found it a disgrace, thus the reason is was so quickly cancelled.

Flash Faces the Future

There has been talk of a new feature film for years but nothing has ever truly reached even the pre-production phase. A 3D film announced in 2010 quickly dissolved and ever since 2014, numerous writers and directors have been mentioned as being interested in making a new movie but then quickly move on to new projects. Taika Waititi was writing and developing a new animated film as recently as 2019. As of July 2021, it appears it will now be a live-action film instead but beyond that, there has been nothing solidly announced.

For now, Flash Gordon appears to be in a dormant state without even a new comic book being produced. We all must anxiously wait for his return and enjoy the numerous radio, film and comic strips from the past. But Flash will return some day when the universe needs a hero or the evil Ming the Merciless rises from the ashes once again.

The Official Adventures of Flash Gordon (1966)

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As we near the end of our Summer of Flash Gordon, we have one more audio adventure to listen to and it’s an interesting one. In 1996, some 26 years after he last portrayed the interplanetary space hero, Buster Crabbe returned one last time to play Flash in two original stories for MGM Records.

The stories, The Decoys of Ming the Merciless and Flash Gordon and the Mole Machine, each run about 20 minutes and are presented as if you are listening to an old time radio drama. Considering the record label was Leo the Lion, it was actually marketed to kids, much like the Peter Pan Power Records label did in the 70s. These stories are a little more adult oriented but very much in the same vein and well worth a listen.

Buster Crabbe was now 58 and did sound a little older than we’d expect Flash to sound. In fact, he sounds older than 58 and seems to lack the energy the rest of the cast brings across in the two stories. Nonetheless, it’s still fun to hear Buster back as Flash one more time if for no reason than pure nostlagia. So, jump on board and tune into these two adventures and enjoy this blast into the past!

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) – Chapters 7-12

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Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)

Cast:
Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon
Carol Hughes as Dale Arden
Frank Shannon as Doctor Alexis Zarkov
Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless
Roland Drew as Prince Barin
Shirley Deane as Princess Aura
Donald Curtis as Captain Ronal
Lee Powell as Roka
Don Rowan as Captain Torch
Anne Gwynne as Lady Sonja

Based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond
Screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey
& Barry Shipman
Directed by Ford Beebe

Chapter 7: The Land of the Dead
Chapter 8: The Fiery Abyss
Chapter 9: The Pool of Peril
Chapter 10: The Death Mist
Chapter 11: Stark Treachery
Chapter 12: Doom of the Dictator

Plot: Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov are aided by their friend Prince Barin as they battle Ming the Merciless once and for all to save earth and the universe.

Richard’s Review: A thrilling 12 chapters from start to finish. I thought the writing was sharper on this story and the running time was the perfect length. There were less flashbacks and more variety in the soundtrack and scenery. Ming was portrayed more like a military commander, which worked for the story. Flash had much better support here than in the first two stories, evident by the fact that they weren’t constantly captured. This was my favorite of the three, with the original coming in second and the Trip to Mars in a distant third. I wish they would have made another with this same cast. Highly recommended!

Karla’s Thoughts: I continued to like this so much more than the Trip to Mars and I think it’s even better than the first one. The story was better, the music was less repetitious, the costumes were improved and there is a little variety in some of the scenery. The ships are still pretty goofy and that line about the Rock People being a lost tribe of Earth made no sense. Overall, this was my favorite and I thought the buildup to the climax was very well written. I’d definitely watch this one again.

Trivia:

  • While the ending would suggest that Ming might have survived once again, a sequel was never made. However, with the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the U.S. entering World War II, all space travel films were put on hold.
  • Writer Basil Dickey also wrote westerns and other chapter serials, including The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935), The Phantom Creeps (1939) and Mandrake, the Magician (1939).
  • Writer Barry Shipman also wrote the chapter serials SOS Coast Guard (1937), Zorro Rides Again (1937) and Dick Tracey’s G-Men (1939).
  • Donald Curtis did not receive billing in any of the chapters due to a last minute decision to highlight actress Anne Gwynne as she was a rising star at Universal. Curtis went on to star in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956).
  • Anne Gwynne is best remembered for her roles in The Black Cat (1941), The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942), House of Frankenstein (1944) and Dick Tracey Meets Gruesome (1947), the latter two of which also starred Boris Karloff.
  • Shirley Deane’s version of Princess Aura was portrayed vastly different from how Priscilla Lawson was visualized on-screen. This was her next-to-last role as she left Hollywood for radio and stage performances. She retired altogether in 1952 to raise a family.
  • Don Rowan also starred in Undersea Kingdom (1936) and Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937).  

Availability: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is available through a variety of sources, including the Film Detective DVD or you can watch it for free on YouTube!

“Flash Gordon has conquered the universe!”

OTR – The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon – Episode 26 (1935)

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This week on old time radio, we’re going on a little time travel trip as we jump ahead to the final episode of The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon from October 26, 1935.  By this adventure, Ming has been defeated and we’ve been introduced to another Alex Raymond creation, Jungle Jim Bradley, an adventurer who battles such villains as The Bat Woman and Karnak the Killer.

As our story progresses, it serves to wrap up the original Flash Gordon series with Flash and Dale’s wedding. However, it also serves as a pilot of sorts for the new Jungle Jim series that would debut the very next week on November 2. Flash would return on October 28 with a new series called The Further Planetary Adventures of Flash Gordon. It was set in Atlantis and ran four days a week for 60 episodes until February 1936.

So sit back and listen to Gale Gordon as Flash Gordon, Maurice Franklin as Dr. Zarkov and Matt Crowley as Jungle Jim. And before anyone asks, we unfortunately don’t know who provided the voice of Dale as she was uncredited.

Tune into episode 26, Goodbye Jungle Jim Hello USA! You can find it on the Flash Gordon playlist on my YouTube channel.

Next week, we’ll take another time leap for one more “radio” adventure with none other than Buster Crabbe himself as we wrap up the Summer of Flash Gordon!

Classic Horrors Club – Foggy Phantasm

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For our final trip to the drive-in this summer, Jeff and I visit the Grand Island Twin in Grand Island, Nebraska, circa 1980. At first, there’s a thick fog, but when it clears, you can see a silver sphere zooming toward your forehead. Jump in the car quickly and you’ll survive for this double-feature from Avco Embassy Pictures. Tune in and listen to episode 71 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast as we take a look at The Fog (1980) and Phantasm (1979)!

Don’t forget to check out the video companion on our YouTube channel. Put images to the voices… if you dare!

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:

And a very special thank you to our guest Steven Turek. We highly recommend you check out the DieCast Movie Podcast and tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!

Coming up next month, we’re taking a vacation we may never forget with a visit to Westworld (1973) and Futureworld (1976)!

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) – Chapters 1-6

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Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)

Cast:
Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon
Carol Hughes as Dale Arden
Frank Shannon as Doctor Alexis Zarkov
Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless
Roland Drew as Prince Barin
Shirley Deane as Princess Aura
Donald Curtis as Captain Ronal
Lee Powell as Roka
Don Rowan as Captain Torch
Anne Gwynne as Lady Sonja

Based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond
Screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey
& Barry Shipman
Directed by Ford Beebe

Chapter 1: The Purple Death
Chapter 2: Freezing Torture
Chapter 3: Walking Bombs
Chapter 4: The Destroying Ray
Chapter 5: The Palace of Horror
Chapter 6: Flaming Death

Plot: Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov return to planet Mongo to find an antidote for the Purple Death, Ming the Merciless’ latest plan to wipe out the planet Earth.

Richard’s Review: This Flash Gordon adventure is the one I have the most memories of watching. I fondly remember it on Sunday mornings on channel 41 in Kansas City, as well as owning both VHS tapes back in the late 80s (finding both was a challenge). The production values have been increased a little and the soundtrack isn’t as repetitious as the Trip to Mars. I appreciate the casting changes as Carol Hughes is not as much of a damsel in perpetual distress and Roland Drew is a much more efficient Prince Barin. Princess Aura’s change is a little hard to believe but it works in the context of the story. A very strong start and much easier to enjoy so far.

Karla’s Thoughts: I really like this serial better than the Trip to Mars. I think it’s on par with the first but improved in several ways. I love the new Dale Arden as she screams a lot less and is more strong-willed, getting involved in the action a lot more. Princess Aura is really changed and the new Prince Barin is much more dashing. The story moves along much quicker and it’s nice to not see them getting captured all of the time. The scene where Zarkov uses the robe to escape is ridiculous though. Strong start and much more enjoyable to watch than the Trip to Mars.

Trivia:

  • Writer George Plympton has 298 credits, including Zombies of Mora Tau (1957), Atom man vs. Superman (1950), Batman and Robin (1949) and The Green Hornet (1940).
  • Carol Hughes became the new Dale Arden when Jean Rogers was unable to continue due to her contract with 20th Century Fox. She also starred in The Naughty Nineties (1945) with Abbott and Costello and in uncredited role in Mighty Joe Young (1949).
  • Roland Drew assumed the role of Prince Barin, playing him as much more dashing and a physically more demanding presence. He also starred in The Hidden Hand (1942) and The Invisible Killer (1939).
  • Lee Powell also starred in The Lone Ranger (1938) and The Fighting Devil Dogs (1938).
  • Every episode begins with a slanted opening crawl to recap the previous episode. This differed from the first two chapter serials and was the inspiration for the Star Wars film series.
  • The dialog of the Rock People is actually just English played backwards.
  • Franz Waxman’s score for The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is once again heard throughout all 12 chapters but was less repetitious than Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938).
  • The chapter serial was nominated in 2016 for the 1940 Retro Hugo Award at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

Availability: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is available through a variety of sources, including the Film Detective DVD or you can watch it for free on YouTube!

Next week…the exciting concluding chapters of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe!

FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE, from left: Carol Hughes, Buster Crabbe, 1940

OTR – The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon – Episode 11 (1935)

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This week on old time radio, it’s episode 11 of The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon from July 6, 1935. Gale Gordon plays the lead role of Flash Gordon with Maurice Franklin as Dr. Zarkov and Bruno Wick as Ming the Merciless.

Tune into episode 11, Zarkov Has to Rescue Dale! You can find it on the Flash Gordon playlist on my YouTube channel.

OTR – The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon – Episode 10 (1935)

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This week on old time radio, it’s episode 10 of The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon from June 29, 1935. Gale Gordon plays the lead role of Flash Gordon with Maurice Franklin as Dr. Zarkov and Bruno Wick as Ming the Merciless.

Tune into episode 10, A Cool Way to Win! You can find it on the Flash Gordon playlist on my YouTube channel.

Live on Amongst the Stars – Nichelle Nichols (1932-2022)

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With great regularity, I will share the fact that I’ve been a Trekkie since the age of 3. I’m now closing in on 55 and nothing has changed as I still love Star Trek. In fact, I watched it on MeTV less than 24 hours ago. Just this morning, my memory on Facebook was of pictures of autographs I took 3 years ago, one of which was a Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country cast photo. Little did I know that just a few hours later, I would read the news that Nichelle Nichols, the lovely Lt. Nyota Uhura, had passed away at the age of 89.

I had the honor of meeting Nichelle on two occasions. The first time was in 1993 at a Creation Entertainment convention in Wichita, Kansas. It was my first experience meeting someone from the show that was such a huge part of my life. She was as I’m sure you’ve heard many times before, beautiful and full of grace. She truly loved and appreciated all of the fans. It was a fabulous experience and it set the standard high for future star struck moments that would follow in the decades to come. She was the first to sign that cast photo that is now filled with everyone else’s autograph except for DeForest Kelley, who sadly passed away before I had the chance to meet him.

I missed her when she appeared at Trek Expo in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2002 as that was one of the few years I didn’t attend that memorable convention. However, I would get the chance to see her two more times here in Kansas City and both events were just as amazing as the first. There are many articles flooding the internet about all of her amazing accomplishments. I won’t repeat them here but instead, I’ll guide to an amazing documentary that really is a must see. Go to Paramount + and watch Woman in Motion, a 2021 film that focuses on a previously undetailed story about her involvement with NASA and her role in recruiting scientists, engineers and astronauts to the space program. Follow that up with a classic episode or two of Star Trek before ending your night by listening to her amazing voice as she sings “Beyond Antares”.

Nichelle’s passing has left me a little gutted as she was truly a huge part of my childhood and adulthood. As I grow older, I’m sadly losing more and more pieces of those years gone by. There was a time my Dad would have called me with the news but as he’s been gone for more than six years now, it’s amplifying that feeling of loss. It just hits close to home. However, Nichelle is now at peace after suffering for far too long.  The stars will shine a little brighter tonight as she’s experiencing the galaxy in a way we can’t understand yet. Live Long and Prosper Ms. Nichols.