Flash Gordon: The Deadly Ray from Mars

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

It seems as though whenever he is defeated, Ming the Merciless (Charles Middleton) always manages to return to his evil ways, but with a stronger weapon at his disposal. This means Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe) has to work harder and harder to thwart Ming’s plans, but he never backs down from the challenge. This time, Flash has just returned from some outer space adventures with Dale (Jean Rogers) and Dr. Zarkov (Frank Shannon), when he learns that Ming has acquired yet another powerful weapon of destruction. This time, Ming has allied himself with Queen Azura of Mars and plans to use a special, very deadly ray on the citizens of Earth, which could spell certain doom for the entire population. This devious ray is found on Mars and that means the trio must return to space once again, this time headed toward the red planet, on a most important mission that could save millions of lives. Will Flash be able to save the day once again, or are the citizens of Earth doomed to become helpless lumps of clay?

The universe’s greatest hero, Flash Gordon is back in action and of course, his adventures are as action packed as ever. This 1966 television release was re-edited from Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and runs like a cohesive feature film, as opposed to a series of short films designed for theater audiences. The original serial had fifteen total episodes, but The Deadly Ray from Mars retains most of the important moments, while also trimming some unneeded material. In the end, this is a solid release as far as Flash Gordon material is concerned, but I think the original serial works better, given the extended duration and extra material involved. If you want to take in some Flash Gordon on a tight time schedule, then The Deadly Ray from Mars would be worthwhile, but I stress that fans of this shouldn’t miss Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars. But we have everyone’s favorite Flash Gordon, Buster Crabbe (Nabonga) here, as well as series regulars Charles Middleton (Hangmen Also Die) as Ming and Frank Shannon (Rawhide Rangers) as Dr. Zarkov, with Jean Rogers (Gay Blades) present as Dale. This is a campy, fun release that fans of Flash Gordon should check out, though it is no substitute for the original serials.

Video: How does it look?

The Deadly Ray from Mars is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. As this is material from the 1930s reworked, you can’t expect a pristine visual presentation, more like a stable, acceptable treatment. The print has frequent nicks, grain, scratches, and looks soft throughout, but without a full scale restoration, I doubt this will look much better. The defects aren’t enough to distract in most cases and contrast is well balanced, so the black & white image looks acceptable, just not much better than that.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included mono track has some hiss, pops, and scratchy moments, but given the material involved, I think it sounds stable enough. I mean, this material dates back to the 1930s, so you can’t judge it by the normal standards, even those at the time when the serials were edited into this form, in 1966. The basic elements are well present and you’ll never have trouble hearing the content, but the age of the materials is obvious throughout. I was never distracted much by these flaws, but they’re there and worth a mention here, without a doubt.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc contains no bonus materials.

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