Retitled to capitalize on Welles’ War of the Worlds radio sensation, this is a condensed feature version of a 15-part serial entitled “Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars”. At 68 minutes, it was the perfect mindless entertainment.
Unnatural disasters are wreaking havoc on earth (lots of nifty stock footage of typhoons, etc.) The scientific community has been helpless to find a theory of the cause. At a secret location, Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe) and Dr. Zarkov have determined that the source is a ray originating in Planet Mongo. So Flash, Zarkov and Dale hop on a convenient rocket ship (in their street clothes). They soon find that irritating comic-relief reporter Happy Hapgood is a stowaway and the source is not Planet Mongo but Mars. The rocket ship breaks down but the plucky crew is able to make a safe crash landing.
It turns out that Ming the Merciless, Emperor of Mongo, is behind the ray and is intent on destroying the universe, starting with Earth. Her Magnificence, Queen Azura of Mars is in league with him. Too many adventures to recount follow.
I thought this was so much fun! Of course, you have to toss out all logic and knowledge of the laws of physics to enjoy it. The condensed format works really well. Just as one hair-raising adventure ends another begins so there is never a dull moment. I particularly enjoy Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless in these things. He is the personification of campy evil.