Even these tapes cost something

  Flash! No.1
1983 | Mountain Video
Flash! No.1 Video Comic 1983 mountain video

Hi, obscurity fans and welcome to a special edition feature. Today's video on trial is a fairly unique cassette entitled Flash! No.1, an exciting and not to mention futuristic Video Comic packed full of Action, Fun, Comedy and, supposedly, much, much more! Let's take a look!

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Created by Mountain Video to showcase their catalogue of Childrens programs in a hip and cutting edge "Video Comic" style. Unfortunately for them their catalog consisted of out-of-date american comedy from the 50's and odd, badly dubbed cartoons and movies from Japan, but they didn't let that stop them!

Wedged between humorously dated computer graphics are short clips of, amongst others; Unico (aka er Unico 1981), Techno Police (aka Technopolice 21C, 1982) and Frankenstein (Kyofu Densetsu Kaibutsu: Frankenstein, 1981) plus a little Godzilla thrown in along with The Three Stooges (cartoon not movie), Laurel & Hardy (movie not cartoon), Superman (cartoon not movie) and a few other odd bits 'n' bobs. Although a second volume, or "Issue" was threatened it never transpired.

Er... none.



This feature is brought to you today by this beauty!

She/He is a state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line, Sanyo VTC-M10 Betamax player! I know you're all jealous. If you're too young to remember Betamax's just think of VHS but a little smaller. If you're too young to remember VHS then I hate you for your youth and don't want you hanging around here anymore.

Anyway, onto Flash! No.1. The back of the sleeve reads:

"FLASH! Video comic for 21st century kids. Cartoons galore plus thrill's, stunts and action to make you want to watch it [but not actually watch it ] again and again. Win a Spectrum 48K computer in our exciting competition that will test your powers of observation, and check out the rest of the cover for a colouring competition with 50 prizes of Flash "2" for the winners. Flash! is new and designed for you. Let us know what you think so that we can make future issues even better. FLASH!"

I don't know about you, but for me nothing sums up "21st century" like a Betamax video offering free Spectrums! It's like the word 'Futuristic' in a solid form. Also- true to their word, on the inside cover there is a black and white line drawing of the front cover for you to colour in (and a name check for the cover artist- a man known simply as 'Andy'). Entries must be in by 1st August 1984.

Oh, and if you are too young to know what a Spectrum is imagine something with less processing power than a toaster making three colour stick men appear on your TV... via cassette. And don't expect me to explain what a 'cassette' is.

This video tape is courtesy of Knights Hill Video Club, 23 Knights Hill, Norwood, London SE27 0HY. Number one for all your Betamax, V2000 and VHS rental needs!

Feature Presentation

A space shuttle countdown accompanying an old Porsche 911 being launched into a lake behind a star shape cut-out is the exciting opener for Flash! The electro theme tune begins to play, sounding for all the world like the tune to one of those dull old 70's school science programs or an early episode of "Tomorrow's World". A fairly long clip of Mazinger Z introduces the viewer to the concept of "Action!" Poorly aged, black and white footage of Stan Laurel falling down acclimatises us to the notion of "Fun!" Next a cartoon from the 1930's and a chained & caged monkey are examples of "Comedy!" A cartoon tank rolling through a futuristic city somehow represents "Robots!"
Finally some snazzy computer effect turns the screen red and the program of entertainment begins with The New Three Stooges (1965). The three slap-stick buffoons are tasked with capturing a 'Jungle Wild Man' for the circus in what could be a master class in cost cutting. Characters are shown standing in front of plain, single colour, backgrounds, short clips are used and re-used and occasionally flipped for variety and the Stooges are attacked twice by the same animals in the same manner and with the exact same consequences- although the editor remembers to cut before the elephant's trunk disappears the second time around. Oh, and in keeping with the modern theme of Flash! the Wild Man turns out to be a Jazz loving beatnik.
Next in the line up is a reasonably brief and somewhat randomly selected sequence from Unico (1981). I'm assuming its taken from the movie "The Fantastic Adventures of Unico" due to the quality of the animation, the clip concerns a small blue creature with long hair and a single horn searching the raging ocean waves for the titular Unicorn. The creature, actually a devil it turns out, manages to save Unico from drowning by way of some sort of magic that can only be used by someone who truly loves the recipient. Sounds a bit pansy to me! Anyhow the dubbing is fairly suspect and the clip ends with the little devil hopping around the screen singing "I've got the horn! I've got the horn! Just as good as my dad's!"
After this, some comedy. Laurel & Hardy (the actors not the Hannah Barbera cartoon you heathens!) in "Sky High". Ok, ok, so I fast forwarded through it. I'm a heathen too. Following on from the black and white slap-stick (every 80's kids favourite) comes a snippet from Tecno Police. In this very short clip a group of small children gather around a robot-man in an inner city play area. If that wasn't a little weird the robot asks the children, in the most creepy pre ned-from-South-Park voice, "DiD YoU. EnJOy thAT?" After a girl replies positively- in a voice that sounds like a woman pretending to be a child, prompting Creepy Robo to ask "WHAT. WOULD YoU. LiKe to... SeE NOw?" A fat kid asks to see a cartoon and Creepy Robo responds by looking, slightly pitifully, to the sky as if asking for forgiveness for what he has done- or possibly what he is about to do- and after a count of three we are treated to "Lumberjack" from 'Radio Television Packagers: 1943 or MCMLXXIII for numeral fans. I'm not sure this is the kind of cartoon fatty had in mind, I've got a feeling he was hoping for Gobots.
Missing videos

I'm not about to waste my time watching a kid's cartoon, unless it's Japanese of course, so fast forward was once again called into action (that's right- the VTC-M10 has all the most advanced features). Now for a quick break and Competition time. Creepy Robo reads out the onscreen text while a swirly pattern, much like that old Windows 3.1 screen-saver, entertains us in the background.

All you have to do to win is spot the mistake in the following Superman cartoon. The clip rattles on for nearly three minutes, although it does contain some pretty impressive roto-scoping effects. But, I'll be damned if I can spot that mistake! In fact, it's so difficult I'm willing to offer a prize to anyone who can spot it!

That robot voice sums up the on-screen terms for entry at such a slow pace it's almost painful to watch! There's such a long pause between paragraphs that I felt relieved that it had stopped only for it to start reading the next bit a... letter... at... a... time... Still, plenty of time to dig those crazy patterns, man!

Next, for your viewing pleasure a man drives a car under a moving tanker. Four times. Now I don't mean to belittle this man's achievements but since this was filmed I've seen Jackie Chan do the exact same thing on roller skates not to mention numerous, ordinary members of the public do it on Fear Factor, at least once a season, so this stunt has lost a lot of it's shock value. Heck, even I could do that. With a blue screen and a lot of time and money.

Not had enough excitement? Good cause here's Frankenstein and some goofy music to introduce the "Creature Feature"; a sequence from Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster. In it the terrifying monster of the title trashes a Japanese shrine bringing himself to the attention of Rodan, Mothra Larvae and of course Godzilla himself. The giant rubbery brutes fight it out until Larvae sprays Ghidorah with a sticky white substance that causes him confusion (not to mention loss of dignity) and he flies away in shame.

Kyofu Densetsu Kaibutsu Frankenstein Godzilla Vs Ghidorah Godzilla Vs Ghidorah
More shame now as it's crappy joke time! The lousy graphics are far funnier than the jokes ever were. I dread to think how much time and money this sequence must have end up costing this small video firm. Anyway here they are, and if you laugh at any of them then you should feel very ashamed!
mazinger Z
The final section of our Video Comic. Go Nagai's Mazinger Z and just to bulk out the running time we get the opening and ending credits plus most of the 22 minute episode. After the giant robot defeats Dr Hell's underwater mechanical monster the fun comes to a close. The ominous Flash! theme plays while more computer graphics try to encourage you to join F.A.S.T. offering a membership card, poster and newsletter but never actually telling you what F.A.S.T. is or what they stand for. All they ask in exchange is a 35 pence Postal Order!
Seemingly having run out of shows to put on the tape they instead expose the audience to just over two minutes worth of car stunts under the vague banner of "A Flash! Crash" (most likely taken from Daredevil Drivers aka Mach 78, 1978). If you've ever wondered what it would look like if an American muscle car drove through a small stack of ice bricks at low speed, today is your lucky day! Under whelming!! Or how about a small Japanese car failing to clear a row of worn-out old jalopies? You're in luck!
daredevil drivers aka mach 78
daredevil drivers aka mach 78

Abruptly the music ends and all that is left is the scrolling message: "*Flash! #2 Available in August*" But sadly it seems it never came... maybe because they ran out of things to fill Flash! #1 with.

This little oddity is really just a teaser for the next feature review. One of the shows featured in this tape will be the subject of the next Bargain Bin Review, but which will it be? Here's a little hint... it isn't "Lumberjacks"


*For those interested there was one other Flash! volume released on VHS, Beta and VHS-2000 titled Robot Volume. It featured Mazinger Z and Tecno Police amongst others but doesn't appear to be the promised second volume.