Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Purple Death from Outer Space (1966)
First things first: the year on this is very misleading. Purple Death from Outer Space, you see, is one of those serials-turned-into-a-movie, and in this case the serial in question was Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, from way back in 1940.
Flash Gordon means goofy stories featuring goofy rocket ships, goofy sets, and even goofier monsters. In other words, it's something I am predisposed to like. And I did like this. I mean, it's in no way good, but it has a kind of silly charm to it. At least to me.
People across the world are dying from a strange contagion, the only symptom of which is a purple mark on the body. Because this was the third Flash Gordon serial, there's little doubt about what might be the cause, and it's off to Mongo for Flash, Dale and Zarkov. Sure enough, Ming - previously believed dead - has returned and once more rules his own world with an iron fist while plotting to destroy Earth.
Ming apparently hasn't heard that 'loose lips sink ships', and mentions in the hearing of one of Flash's friends that the only antidote for his Purple Death is the substance Polarite, which can be found in the icy realm of Frigia.
Sophisticated naming conventions are not a thing in Flash Gordon.
So the rest of the movie is occupied with Flash & Co trying to get the Polarite while being menaced with a cliffhanger every ten minutes or so - this is after all adapted from a serial. Flash gets reported dead on at least three separate occasions. He's like Mark Twain on steroids.
So the plot is unsophisticated, the acting hammy (without the deliberate camp of the 1980 film), and the effects mostly giggle-inducing. But like I said earlier, it's kind of fun despite all that. There's just something about seeing a group of second-rate actors uncomfortably spouting cliched dialogue while wearing silly costumes that makes me smile.
You, on the other hand, might be a sane person. In which case you can probably skip this.