I'm pretty sure we saw Flash Gordon (1980) in the theater when it was released (unless I'm thinking of Flesh Gordon). We mainly wanted to see it again for the Queen soundtrack. As it turns out, there is only the main theme: a paino playing a single chord in eighth notes while Freddie sings, "Flash! Ah ah ah." It's pretty monotonous, although Brian May's guitar leads kick it up a notch. But, you know, we weren't at all disappointed.
It starts with Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow!) getting bored and starting to destroy Earth - earthquakes, volcanoes, hot hail, that kind of thing. Meanwhile, Flash Gordon (Sam Jones) is coming back from vacation in a small plane with Dale Arden (Melody Anderson). Ms. Anderson is a rather generic 80s babe, but Jones has a beefy Reb Brown (Rock Hardpecs) quality that is quite endearing.
When their plane is forced down by the hot hail, mad scientist Dr. Zarkov (Topol!) tricks them into his spaceship and they take off for planet Mongo, to confront Ming. So far, it's a nice mix of 80s and 30s-50s sci-fi. But when they get to Mongo, it gets even better.
First, Ming decides he wants Dale for a sex slave. Then we meet his daughter, the numptuous Ornella Muti - and she falls for Flash. This is all just as kinky as can be (or am I thinking of Flesh Gordon?). We meet the warring tribes of the planets ruled by Ming, including Timothy Dalton and bluff Brian Blessed of the Hawk people. There are fights, intrigues, space flights, all as cheesy as can be, in lurid colors (with some Brian May guitar and Freddie Mercury singing "Flash!").
This was much better than we remembered, or maybe we were just in the mood for some ham and cheese.