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Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars
Space Soldier's Trip to Mars

USA 1938
produced by
Barney A. Sarecky (associate) for Universal
directed by Ford L. Beebe, Robert F. Hill
starring Buster Crabbe, Jean Rogers, Charles Middleton, Frank Shannon, Beatrice Roberts, Donald Kerr, Richard Alexander, C. Montague Shaw, Wheeler Oakman, Kenne Duncan, Warner Richmond, Jack Mulhall, Lane Chandler, Anthony Warde, Ben Lewis, Kane Richmond, Hooper Atchley, James Blaine, Thomas Carr, James Eagles, Jerry Frank, Louis Merrill, Edwin Stanley, Ray Turner
screenplay by Ray Trampe, Norman S. Hall, Wyndham Gittens, Herbert Dalmas, based on the comicstrip by Alex Raymond, special effects by Ed Keyes

serial
Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When some ray from Mars sucks all the nitron from the earth's atmosphere slowly but steadily, Flash gordon (Buster Crabbe), Dale Arden (Jean Rogers), Dr Zarkov (Frank Shannon), and stowaway reporter Happy Hapgood (Donald Kerr) make a trip to the planet to find out what's going on ... and they find Mars's Queen of Magic Azura (Beatrice Roberts) has teamed up with Emperor Ming (Charles Middleton), whom Flash and company thought destroyed on Mongo in the earlier serial [click here], and they have conspired to destroy earth. Flash and company escape but are captured by Azura and Ming, only to escape and fall into the hands of the Clay People. The Clay King (C. Montague Shaw) forces Flash and Zarkov to return to Queen Azura's castle to kidnap her, but once they have her they almost fall prey to Ming's intrigue, as he has long conspired to get rid of her, but she's able to safe herself and escape Flash's clutches. Still, their attempts are good enough for the Clay King to make peace with Flash and friends, and he sends them on a mission to ensure the help of the Tree People in an attack on Azura's palace - but the Tree People are secretly in league with Ming, and Flash and company soon become their prisoners ... until they are freed by Prince Barin (Richard Alexander), who has come to Mars from Mongo to pay a visit to his fellow Tree People to find them on the wrong side of things. Flash and friends even manage to secure the black sapphire, the stone which counteracts the white sapphire Queen Azura gets her magical powers from. With that in hand, our friends manage to abduct Queen Azura to the Clay People for her to restore them to their former human form, but Ming captures Flash and seizes the sapphire from him to contain it in a box that neutralizes it. Her magical powers being restored, Azura manages to escape. However when she asks Ming about the whereabouts of the black sapphire, Ming claims he never got it. Flash manages to escape, and somehow end up in the land of the Tree People, where Dale is rendered mindless to a point where she almost kills Flash before being abducted to Azura's palace. But of course, her friends save her, restore her memory, and even manage to get the black sapphire again - and again they kidnap Azura, but this time Ming has Azura's stratosleds going after the stratosled of the kidnappers and bomb them once they flee on land, claiming Azura's magic will protect her ... well, it doesn't, and Azura dies in "friendly fire", very much to Ming's delight, as he now has free reign to attack the clay people with the help of the Tree People. Azura's last act is an act of greatness though as she tells Flash how to restore the Clay People to their human form - and thus they are much more ready to fight. Plus Flash and company spy out the lair of the Tree People - and there they learn of a plan to bomb the Clay People or of existence - but Flash manages to (physically) jump the lead stratosled of the bomber squadron in mid-air and take the pilots prisoner ... who once among the (now re-humanized) Clay People realize they are their (actual) brothers and thus pledge allegiance to Flash. Flash and friends then make it to Azura's palace, where Mind is about to be crowned, and they manage to turn the collective Martian aristocracy against Ming - but Ming manages to make an escape, and he now tries to destroy earth before being captured, but now even his sedond-in-command (Wheeler Oakman) turns against him, helps our heroes to overthrow him and personally sends him to the annihilation chamber before Flash can save even Ming the Merciless from such a cruel fate ...

 

What goes for Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars goes for all three Flash Gordon-serials starring Buster Crabbe: They do demand their fair share of suspension of disbelief, and while some effects are great, others are great in their naivity, and yet others fail to convince even taking their age into account, plus one can't deny the serial is at times overly campy ... but if one can accept all that and see the thing with the eyes of one's inner child, one can see a pleasently naive space opera full of that sense of wonder that makes the best escapist science fiction tales the pieces of greatness that they are. After all, there's hardly a dull moment in this one, it's full of action and (at least for the time) novel ideas mixed with many pulp mainstays, and the story is as stringent as it presents a variety in its narration (not a given with serials) - so if you're in the proper mood prepare to be properly entertained ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD