STARRING: Buster Crabbe, Carol Hughes, Charles Middleton, Frank Shannon, Don Rowan, Capt. Torch, Victor Zimmerman, Lee Powell

1966, 88 Minutes, Directed by:
Ford Beebe, Ray Taylor

Description: Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Rd. Zarkov must go to the planet Mongo and fight the evil emperor Ming when a deadly “Purple Death” plague breaks out on Earth. Tracking the source, our group of adventurers flies to it in Dr. Zarkov’s rocket. There they discover that Emperor Ming, whom they believed dead at the end of their last battle, is still alive. He is threatening to not only conquer all of Mongo, but is also attacking Earth again, using a “Death Dust” spread by his spaceships that will eventually destroy everyone on Earth.

In 1966 the various episodes of the 1940 Universal serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial were edited together as one movie and syndicated out to TV as Purple Death from Outer Space.

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe was the third and last of the Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe. (Serials were short 12 minutes or so episodes from ongoing adventures aimed at children, in particular boys, which were screened before the main attraction at cinemas in the 1930s. They proved to be an inspiration for the Indiana Jones movies and George Lucas wanted to do a Flash Gordon movie, but when he couldn’t obtain the rights, he made Star Wars instead.)

The Flash Gordon serials were always amongst the better serials, so the production values (sets, effects, costumes, etc.) were better than most of their competitors’. That doesn’t mean that they were any good even by the standards of the time they were pretty B-grade. But at least Purple Death from Outer Space moved the action around a bit to various locales such as forests, snow-covered mountains and so on instead of reusing the same few locations over and over again a bit like the brand new Flash Gordon TV series on Sci-Fi Channel.

Told in a breathless “and then!” story-telling style reminiscent of children’s essays, they should still appeal to small boys. Adults will only smile indulgently at the cheap sets, overuse of stock footage, dated special effects, ridiculous and bad acting.

However despite this particular serial’s reputation for over-the-top camp that things actually seem quite subdued especially compared to the self-conscious post-modern camp take on the character in the 1980 Flash Gordon big screen movie.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).