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Guilty Pleasures: ''Flash Gordon'' Soundtrack

Marc Bernardin on Queen's glorious cartoon score

To truly quantify the gloriousness of the soundtrack to the 1980 sci-fi flick Flash Gordon, you've got to understand just how terrific a choice it was to have Queen (that great near parody of rock excess that still somehow managed to make heads bang) create the music for such a cornball movie. This was a band that wrote bouncy songs about bohemian rhapsodies and fat-bottomed girls, so naturally it would have no problem scoring a film about the adventures of a dim Jets quarterback, a hottie named Dale, and requisite mad scientist Hans Zarkov, all trapped in the lava-lamp landscape of the planet Mongo.

From the pounding theme song (''Flash! Ah-aaah...he save every one of us!'') and the Arabian synth wa-wa of ''The Ring (Hypnotic Seduction of Dale)'' to the arena-rock-ready ''Battle Theme,'' the music is so goofily muscular, it's like someone gave superintelligent space monkeys a bushel of PCP-laced bananas and let 'em loose in a room of guitars and keyboards. Better yet: The film's blissfully inane dialogue is mixed in with the music — everything from Zarkov's (Fiddler on the Roof's Topol) rantings to bald baddie Ming the Merciless' (Max von Sydow) tyrannical marriage vows (''Do you promise to use her as you will...not to blast her into space?''). This album is such a fully rendered piece of art it rests on the same aural plane as great opera: You can take as much from listening as you can from seeing, maybe more. You see, dear friends, it's like you never have to watch the movie again! And if loving this makes me guilty, then I don't wanna be innocent.

Guilt-o-meter: 4

Originally posted Mar 10, 2000 Published in issue #530 Mar 10, 2000 Order article reprints