Despite such moments of invention, Flesh Gordon often seems belaboured. The rest of the time the film is merely trying to find ways to conduct softcore simulations of every aspect of the original serials. (The script follows the 1936 Flash Gordon surprisingly closely). It gets very silly with Prince Barin being rewritten as a foppish gay man and scenes where Whang disposes of the heroes by flushing them down a giant toilet. The ghastly hamming of co-writer William Hunt as Emperor Whang is the films low point.
There is a small cult that exists for Flesh Gordon in some quarters, which seems to rest primarily on the professional quality of the effects. Flesh Gordon is perhaps notable for featuring many effects artists who went on to find considerable fame in better films among the credits, one can see Oscar-winning makeup effects artist Rick Baker, stop-motion animators Dave Allen and Doug Beswick, Dennis Muren who became one of the founders of Industrial Light and Magic, model-maker Greg Jein who built the mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and stop-motion animator Jim Danforth hiding under the pseudonym Mij Htrofnad (the reverse spelling of his name).
In the end, Flesh Gordon is a pornographic parody that is neither pornographic enough to work as erotica nor parody enough to amuse genre fandom, and as a result entertains neither camp. It did however begin a trend throughout the 1980s of films whose titles were X-rated take-offs of more innocent other models the likes of Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind (1978), Edward Penishands (1991), The Flintbones (1992), Beaver and Buttface (1995), The XXX Files (1995), The Erotic Witch Project (1999) and Dancing with the Porn Stars (2007) to name but a minor sampling.
Co-director Howard Ziehm later made a sequel Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (1991). William Hunt was the only other returnee from the original.