April 03, 2018
Overview - Yes, kids, and you thought Emperor Ming was dead! The would be ruler of the universe attacks Earth again! This time with mysterious purple dust that kills people dead. Luckily for the sake of humankind, Flash and Doctor Zarkov still patrol the skies, and they know a thing about fighting evil.
The 12 chapter cliffhanger runs three and a half hours, Billy has cut this to a little over two hours.
Video - 640 X 480p AVC. My player did a nice job improving this, but it cannot compensate for what is, at best, a mediocre print. Image Entertainment offers a crisp DVD and Laserdisc. Better source material, rather than getting public domain version.
The editing is solid. All the intros and recaps are gone. Several of the transitions are abrupt, perhaps just before the “NEXT WEEK!” banner launches. Much as I dislike fade to black, that might have solved that. I don’t know.
Audio - 128 kbps AAC 2 Channel stereo. Specs may indicate stereo, but this is mono. No subs. Dialogue is clear throughout. The music grows tedious after awhile, especially Liszt. My same issues with video transitions apply here. Music simply cuts off.
Narrative - I have not watched the original serial in a few years. Even then, I only watched a chapter per week. I had forgotten just how much action this boasts. Being a Universal production, this is not on a par with the Republic cliffhangers, but the production values were first rate back then.
Anyway, this edit really moves, though it gets jumpy at times, as Flash and Zarkov dash from one crisis to another across Mongo.
Enjoyment - For me, definitely. I have a soft spot for classic serials, even Silent ones. In 1966, Universal Television recut this into the hour and a half “Purple Death From Outer Space.” Avoid that, Billy’s edit is far superior! That said, serials were never meant to be binged. Recaps and previews can exhaust even the most patient. Billy’s version, I watched over two nights which is what I would suggest.
Much of the charm of this was always Ming. His henchmen are fools, his daughter is intractable, two Earthmen are pesky thorns he cannot escape from. For all that, his monomania is irresistible, as is that glorious voice of Middleton himself. As for Zarkov, I kept waiting for him to declare, "I've got the power pasties, and I know how to use 'em!" Alas.
Good times, Billy.