What began as just another pipe-dream kickstarter project had the second of its glamorous big screen premiere’s in LA this month. After months of shooting and editing, LIFE AFTER FLASH finally blazed across the screen in a private showing at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.
GORDON’S ALIVE! Was invited and has been along for the entire ride, following the progress of debut Director Lisa Downs and her Producer/Partner Ashley Pugh as their idea evolved from a modest fan-funded endeavour to an expansive long-awaited retrospective of the 1980 movie. This past year, hours of footage featuring interviews with said fans, cast, crew and celebrity aficionados have been whittled down to a punchy two hours of almost nonstop fun and revelation about the cult classic. Those seeking insider gossip straight from the set and anecdotes about the making of the film will come away satisfied but more than that, the documentary elegantly manages to tell the tale of the legacy and lasting effects through the eyes of the leading man. Sam J. Jones story takes many unexpected twists and turns that are tragic as they are uplifting. What follows is a review of both the movie and the night straight from the red carpet as one of the attendees…
The Savior of the Universe with a captive audience…
Life After Flash (2017) Directed by Lisa Downs
Review by M. Lakin, GORDONISALIVE.com
So what exactly does one do having once been the saviour of the Universe? How do you top that in terms of career or indeed in life? This is the basis of a new documentary destined to be as cult a phenomenon as the 1981 movie which spawned it, but ultimately offers so much more. Indeed, this no-holds-barred account of Flash Gordon’s (actor Sam J. Jones) meteoric rise and just as spectacular fall from grace is surprisingly as tragic as it is uplifting. He saved every one of us, but who, or what, would save him?
The original film (Directed by Mike Hodges), despite being considered a flop in the US, nonetheless endures to this day and has maintained an almost-feverish fanbase across the world. Satisfying then, that after decades void of accompanying material, much of the footage is devoted to life during Flash as much as beyond, with rare glimpses into the making of the movie accompanied by sharp, contemporary recollections of cast, crew and fans, providing the kind of DVD extra every release has lacked to date. There are, in fact, many fun revelations shared here that will impress even the most hardcore of fans courtesy of contributors like Brian May, Roberto Rodriguez and Alex Ross.
One is quick to point out that this shouldn’t be classed as mere supplementary material, however, as Downs cuts back and forth between the archive footage and talking heads with considerable attention to pace, never allowing them to become too self-indulgent (except for the darling Peter Wyngarde, who’s sly indulgence almost steals the picture). Indeed, it is as if the final cut was liberally sprinkled with uproarious quotes from man-mountain Brian Blessed at the most opportune moments, his anecdotes serving as both invaluable tales of the production and much-needed comic-relief.
Quite why a film about what is regarded as a camp classic would require comic relief is arguably the most compelling reason to watch this picture- as despite being disguised as a celebration of all things Flash, there is a wonderfully involving narrative thread about what Life After Flash holds for the stars of the film, but most appropriately, (and poignantly) Flash himself.
For it may be late in coming, but here Sam J. Jones finally proves himself to be a legitimate star, even if not on the screen as once anticipated. Uniquely bombastic and All-American, Jones now divides his time between convention appearances and his Security company. The journey is in turn bizarre and heart-breaking but at its end it’s understood how and why he’s still just a man, with a super-man’s courage.
Promo video from the private screening and afterparty…
The Prince Charles has cultivated a reputation for showing the best alternative and cult films over the decades, so it was more than appropriate that Life After Flash should carry on the tradition. Even the uncomfortable velvet-covered seats could not dampen the enthusiasm of the audience as the much-anticipated result of their work played out publicly for the first time. From the outset, the stirring music and amazing new series of neon-style graphics echoing the original film hit the right note with the fans and the atmosphere was electric throughout.
Once the picture was over we were invited to the afterparty held at swanky venue 101 Wardour St. where, in typical Lisa Downs style (see BFI 35th Anniversary Gala) no expense was spared to celebrate the debut of what will hopefully become an equally glittering career. The stars were in attendance (with Sam Jones himself leading the procession through central London like the Pied Piper) and guests were treated to free champagne, a photo booth, raffle with spectacular prizes and an intimate Q&A with stars & Directors.
On a personal note, it was a pleasure for me to have time to sit and talk with fellow contributors and fans again, having met and made many friends during the 35th celebration. By my side as usual was my old mate Chris King and we were delighted to see that Bob Lindenmayer had once again made the trip overseas for the occasion. It was a blast talking to Ed Emmerson, recalling the ’80’s with David Dumbell and his lovely wife Maxine and fantastic to finally cross paths with David Oliver, prop collector and archivist extraordinaire. Most of this took place, it should be noted, as Sam Jones himself casually tucked into his dinner literally feet away, still managing to mingle with fans, and keeping with tradition, last to leave.
At the time of writing Life After Flash is seeking a distributor. One can’t help but think that parties like Netflix could, and should, rip this clean out of Lisa’s hands and get it onto the screens of fans across the world where it richly deserves to be. Until then, GORDON’S ALIVE! will endeavour to bring you the latest on the project…