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“As long as man shall walk earth and search the night sky in wonder, they will remember the courage of Perseus forever. Even if we the gods are abandoned and forgotten, the stars shall never fade.”
– Zeus

I can’t recall if I ever mentioned it before, but I’m big on fairy tales, folktales and myths. I’ve always been fascinated by how different cultures interpret familiar stories, or use them to relay well-worn morals or their take on how the world was formed. When I was a kid a friend of my parents gave me a copy of D’Auliere’s Greek Myths (which is a must-own for anyone who enjoys these classic stories) and I ate it up like the diminutive bookworm I was, but it wasn’t my first exposure to the pantheon of Greek legends. No, that was a film I saw when I was just seven years old, one that has left an indelible imprint on the collective subconscious of anyone exposed to it at a young age and has since become a cult classic for its take on one of the most famous Greek myths of all time.

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Now I wouldn’t call Hercules one of my top ten favorite Disney films, but its zany animation, fun characters and catchy music make for a fun viewing experience. Of course, being Disney, they left out all the family-unfriendly aspects of the original tale and reshaped it into what’s essentially a modern-Grecian take on the Superman/Moses story, but I’m not one to complain about that. You try making an animated film where the main character kills his wife and family in a bout of insanity brought on by his jealous stepmother and literally works himself to death trying to make up for it. Truth be told, about 90% of Greek myths involving heroes follow a similar plot – Zeus gets it on with a mortal, has a child out of wedlock, said mortal gets punished by Zeus’ wife Hera (because victim blaming really is a centuries-old practice), and the new demigod is gifted with special powers or weapons to fight tons of foes but still winds up with a fairly ironic and tragic demise. The one exception to this is the story of Perseus, which is the basis of the film we’ll be looking at today.

Now mythology is no stranger to the man behind Clash of the Titans, legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. His other notable Greek outing, Jason and the Argonauts, is considered one of the most thrilling sword and sandal epics to have held up for the past fifty years, and is worth seeing for the skeleton battle alone (it also happens to be the favorite film of Sheriff Woody himself, Tom Hanks). In addition he created and animated puppets for the original Mighty Joe Young, the Sinbad movies, One Million Years BC, and more. Though he never directed any of them, these movies are forever associated with the name Harryhausen. CGI would eventually come along to push new boundaries in the field of effects animation, but his work has left an indelible imprint on many a future filmmaker, with big names like Pixar and Tim Burton namedropping him in some their own films. For a time Steven Spielburg even considered bringing many of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to life using stop-motion, clearly inspired by the dinosaurs that were featured in Harryhausen’s works.

Clash of the Titans was the last film Harryhausen made before he went into retirement, and it holds all his trademarks, both good and bad. So, did his career end on a high note, or does the movie fall to pieces like a poorly made Play-Doh sculpture? Let’s find out.

So, a bit of context to understand the film’s opening – King Acrisius of Argos locked his daughter Danae in a tower Rapunzel-style because he didn’t want anyone to marry her. Zeus, the ruler of the gods…well, saying he likes a challenge when it involves an untouched beauty is an understatement. To sum up almost every Greek myth in existence, if it has a vagina, Zeus will find a way to fill it. Nine months later, Acrisius checks in on his daughter and learns that he’s now a grandfather, which leads to our first scene where he deals with the situation like any good parent – by locking his daughter and infant grandson in a box and hurling them into the sea.

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AKA the Republican alternative to Planned Parenthood.

This crime against humanity doesn’t go unnoticed however, as we follow Johnathan Livingston Seagull flying over the opening credits who turns out to be none other than Poseidon, god of the sea. On Mount Olympus, the home of the gods, he reports Danae’s situation to Zeus, who’s played by respected stage and screen actor Sir Laurence Olivier. This was the point in Olivier’s distinguished career where he took roles that some considered beneath him just for the paycheck, and surprisingly, Zeus the King of the Gods was one of them. Even so, his performance is not phoned in. In fact, none of the actors sleepwalk through the film despite how silly it can get at times, and that’s one thing I enjoy about this movie. Olivier as Zeus is as true to the material as can be; he’s got a quick temper, he’s fiercely loyal to his kin, he’s wise and benevolent towards humankind but not one to be crossed. And how do you know that he is the definitive portrayal of the ruler of Mount Olympus?

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‘Cuz he’s got fricking laser beams attached his fricking head!

Zeus is quite pissed at Acrisius for what he’s done. Though the gods remind him that Acrisius has built many temples and shrines to him, his mind is made up – no man messes with his baby mama and gets away with it (that’s Hera’s job). He orders Poseidon and sea goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith) to release the Kraken, the last of the monstrous Titans, on the kingdom of Argos as revenge.

It’s here that they carry over a detail from Jason and the Argonauts that I can’t get enough of. On a chessboard the gods move about figurines of mortals and monsters like pawns in a game, the perfect metaphor for how they control every action, pitting good against evil for their own amusement. They don’t use an actual chessboard for this film (pity) but they keep the clay action figures representing each man and woman, and they place them in a small arena every time something of note is to happen to them. Case in point, Acrisius. As Poseidon unleashes the Kraken from its watery cavern and the first of the tidal waves it creates hit the city, Zeus takes the model of Acrisius and begins crushing it in his fist. Acrisius slowly expires as he watches his kingdom being destroyed around him, the ultimate punishment for angering Zeus.

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“When it is done, and Argos is ashes…then you have my permission to die.”

After Argos is left looking like New Jersey after a hurricane, Poseidon ensures that Danae and her son Perseus float safely to a tiny island. There they live an simple but idyllic life. Zeus and the other gods do not interfere but he keeps a close eye on Perseus as grows up into a strong, noble – and might I add dashing – young man (Harry Hamlin).

On the other end of the spectrum is Thetis’ son Calibos. Calibos is a handsome prince who grew up in the lap of luxury and is betrothed to the beautiful princess Andromeda of Joppa, but is avaricious and cruel. Zeus also has a bone to pick with him as Calibos recently hunted and killed almost his entire herd of winged horses just for sport. Despite Thetis’ pleas for mercy, Zeus doles out a punishment befitting a prince who’s so spoiled, selfish and unkind by transforming him into a hideous beast. He also banishes him to a swamp because Calibos doesn’t even deserve to live in a palace with enchanted servants. Thetis is powerless to reverse the damage inflicted upon her son, but that doesn’t mean she can’t take her anger out on Zeus’ perfect little angel.

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“I am the shadow on the moonlit night, when you wake up you’re sure to have a fright!”

After Zeus leaves the room, she takes Perseus’ figure and leaves it – and by extension, him – in the center of the abandoned amphitheater in her patron city Joppa. Perseus wakes up feeling understandably disoriented.

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“Fall asleep on a beach, wake up nude in a strange city. Last time I agree to a drinking contest with Dionysus!”

The master of the amphitheater, a reclusive poet named Ammon (Burgess Meredith) welcomes Perseus and takes him in. On learning who he is, Ammon informs Perseus that he’s something of a big deal; apparently everyone knows his story ever since Argos got wiped off the map. It’s one that he loved to retell, but sadly people don’t come to the theater much since there’s little joy to be had in Joppa nowadays. Not content with toying around with Perseus, Thetis also decided that if Calibos can’t marry Andromeda then no one can. She placed a curse on Joppa that won’t be lifted unless Andromeda goes through with marrying a monster or a suitor vying for her hand completes an impossible challenge. Perseus, having promised his mother on her deathbed that he would return the kingdom of Argos to its former glory, thinks wedding a princess would be a good place to start, and Ammon vows to help any way he can.

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“You’re gonna eat lightning, and you’re gonna crap thunder, just like your daddy!”

Meanwhile Zeus is none too pleased that Thetis dropped his son miles away from his home half -naked (though to be fair he was wearing a loincloth so he’s only two-thirds naked. Not that I’m complaining). Knowing his son is going to need all the help he can get, Zeus orders Hera, Aphrodite (goddess of love), and Athena (goddess of wisdom) to create some divine weapons to aid him in his quest. Once Zeus leaves the room they talk smack about him; mostly how he’s tried to knock up each of them in his various kinky ways and how they’ve managed to send him running, which makes me really want to see a version of 9 To 5 starring these ladies.

While Perseus is honing his swordfighting skills in the amphitheater, Zeus drops off the presents – an unbreakable sword, an impenetrable shield, and a helmet that turns the wearer invisible. He also leaves a video message through the shield telling Perseus he’s destined for great things as long as he keeps his gifts close.

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“This message will now self-destruct.”

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“What?”

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Okay, that last bit didn’t happen, but considering the fate of most Greek heroes Perseus would have gotten off easy by comparison if it did.

Perseus tries out his new toys and against Ammon’s better judgement Perseus traipses into Joppa wearing the helmet. He spends a bit of time taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the market. It might seem like filler, but remember Perseus grew up on a tiny island. This is his first time in a big city surrounded by more people than he’s ever seen at once in his life. We are seeing this new world through his eyes, which is made even more obvious when the camera switches from his reaction to a first-person perspective throughout.

Perseus comes across a soldier overlooking a fire in the middle of the square and learns more about Andromeda’s forced engagement test from him – any suitor hoping to make her his bride must answer a riddle that changes every night and only she knows the answer to. Guess correctly and the lucky man can marry Andromeda and become King of Joppa. Fail, and it’s a public bonfire with him as the “guest of honor”. That evening Perseus uses his invisibility helmet to sneak into the palace and enter Andromeda’s room.

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Well I’m sure this is only for the purpose of helping the princess and WHAT THE HELL AM I SAYING?!

A giant vulture carrying a human-sized golden birdcage lands on the balcony and summons Andromeda’s spirit from her body. Perseus wants to follow but none of his dad’s gifts grant him the ability to fly. Ammon tells him their might be a way and the following night they hold a stakeout by a small oasis.

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“So THIS is where the Tri-Star logo lives!”

This, if you can’t already tell, is Pegasus, the last of Zeus’ winged horses, who comes to the same spot each night to quench his thirst. Once again donning his magic helmet, Perseus is able to creep up to Pegasus, lasso him and climb on his back with Ammon’s help. Pegasus takes to the sky and attempts to buck him off to no avail. By the time he returns to the ground, Perseus has earned Pegasus’ respect and a sweet new ride. The following night when Andromeda is taken to Calibos’ swamp, Perseus tails her discreetly.

How Calibos is portrayed is an interesting story in and of itself. He’s a new addition to this tale, drawing inspiration mainly from the creature Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The script originally had it so Calibos was only a stop-motion figure with no lines of dialogue, but the filmmakers soon realized that wasn’t enough to make him a menacing presence so they added some dialogue, cast Neil McCarthy, and put him in some rather good makeup that matched the look of the figure as closely as possible. Any time you see Calibos in full body it’s clearly stop motion, but whenever he’s in half-body or head shots it’s McCarthy, and he gives a fine performance even with the limitations imposed on him.

Calibos gives Andromeda some beautiful jewelry but she refuses it, begging him to remove the curse and free her instead. Both try to use the fact that they we’re in love once against each other to tempt them into their corner, and if this were in any other movie it would be a beautifully tragic romantic scene. I adore anything that gives off a Beauty and the Beast vibe (can’t imagine why) If Calibos wasn’t such a murderous jerk he’d have my complete pity.

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Hellboy’s teenage years were not easy ones.

Calibos sees through Andromeda’s pretty words and forces her to memorize the next riddle and the answer (Calibos’ ring). As he sends her on her way he notices an extra pair of footprints appearing in the dirt behind her. Once Perseus believes he’s safe, he removes the helmet and is promptly attacked by Calibos. In the struggle Perseus loses his helmet in the swamp. The action cuts to the following morning before we see the outcome.

Queen Cassiopeia stands before her court and asks for any volunteers interested in marrying the princess. A very much alive Perseus steps forward accompanied by Ammon. Andromeda recognizes Perseus as the handsome stranger from a dream she claims to have had.

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“Uh…sure. You dreamed me you in your room totally not doing anything pervy.”

Andromeda gives Perseus the riddle and he shows them Calibos’ ring – with the hand still attached. He informs them that he battled with Calibos and let him live in exchange for ending Joppa’s curse. All of Joppa celebrates the end of their misery and Perseus and Andromeda’s engagement. Meanwhile Calibos pays his mother’s temple a visit and pleads for her intervention.

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Though I think he may have accidentally summoned Madame Leota instead.

Thetis tells her son she can’t harm Perseus directly, but if they wait for the opportune moment they can take their revenge on Joppa instead.

The wedding is held the next day with Cassoeopoia overseeing the ceremony. Before the two can tie the knot, she proudly declares that her daughter’s beauty rivals Thetis herself.

In Thetis’ own temple.

Right in front of her giant statue.

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Cass, you know how mercilessly petty and vengeful the gods are, right? Arachne, Bellerophon, Niobe, all that jazz against mortals who say they can do better than the gods and yet you STILL said something you knew would blatantly piss off your patron goddess and thought you could get away with it? Lady, you deserve everything that’s about to happen.

Without missing a beat an earthquake hits the temple and shakes the head off the statue of Thetis. To the amazement of all present it comes to life and speaks.

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“Serpents and spiders, tale of a rat…this would be a lot more spookier if I was floating around a dark room surrounded by musical instruments.”

Thetis’ disembodied head decrees that Joppa will be punished for Cassiopeia’s blasphemy. In thirty days she will unleash the Kraken to destroy the city unless Andromeda is sacrificed (and to pour some extra salt on the wound for the happy couple, she must still be a virgin when it happens).

Everyone mopes about the palace (except for Cassiopeia whom I’m guessing is off trying to get a refund for the caterer) No one has a clue how to stop Joppa and Andromeda’s fate. Ammon in his infinite wisdom suggests seeking out the Stygian Witches, three ancient crones who know the answer to any question, including how they could defeat the Kraken. Perseus believes he can make the trip long before the deadline riding on Pegasus, but unfortunately Pegasus is kidnapped by Calibos and his cronies.

Since his son is going to need more than a spear and magic helmet on this near-impossible quest, Zeus asks Athena to give Perseus her favorite pet owl to use as a guide. Athena says that’ll happen when hunting goddess Artemis decides to give up the chase and settle down with a nice man. Which is never. Instead she has Hephaestus (sadly NOT played by Oliver Reed) make Perseus a mechanical companion in her owl’s likeness. Enter Bubo, a cute little stop-motion/animatronic owl that can move and fly like a real bird, communicates in mechanical hoots that only Perseus has the ability to understand, and is also nearly indestructible.

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But does he know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

Now I think I should finally talk about the elephant in the room, one that perhaps a few of you may have already picked up on. My English teacher showed us this movie in high school when we studied Greek mythology, though he was quick to point out which parts “sucked” due to them ripping off a little popular movie from around that time called Star Wars. Because EVERY story about a young hero getting a magic sword from his absentee father, shacking up with a cooky old mentor and a robotic comic relief, and going on a quest to rescue a princess and stop an ultimate evil HAS to be nothing but Star Wars and the rest are all cheap copycats, am I right?

I briefly talked about this at the end of my Wizard of Oz review, how some stories follow a similar structure with familiar characters and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I even used Clash of the Titans as one of the examples). George Lucas drew on Westerns, Kurosawa samurai films, Flash Gordon serials, and yes, Joseph Campbell’s study of Greek mythology and his theory of the Monomyth when creating Star Wars. This movie was released in 1981 and one of its biggest criticisms was that it didn’t do anything that Star Wars hadn’t done already. What people love to harp on the most is Bubo because of how similar he is to the comic relief droids, R2D2 in particular, and how he was thrown in there just to appeal to kids. But Clash of the Titans began production well before Star Wars was even released. No one predicted how much of a massive, groundbreaking hit Star Wars would be, not even George Lucas himself, so how could Ray Harryhausen have known that his plucky beeping sidekick would be following in the footsteps of a fellow heroic robot?

And as for Bubo himself…apart from the R2D2 comparisons, I just don’t get the hate for this little guy. He’s adorable, adds an innocent touch of humor when needed, and unlike most pointless comic relief, he helps get the job done. There are at least five instances throughout the movie where Bubo plays an important part in helping Perseus complete his quest. It’s not like they purposefully create a void that needs to be filled by his presence either; when I tried to think of ways Perseus could have continued at certain beats without Bubo, I got stuck. Bubo was also a character that figured into Greek mythology since he was originally Athena’s owl and her symbol, hence why owls are always associated with wisdom. And hey, why bash the R2 similarities? The droids are some of my favorite characters in Star Wars and I wholeheartedly embrace anyone that can fill their function without being bothersome or cloying. So I say bring on Owl2-D2, and fie on those who fail to see his greatness!

And I am not apologizing for that pun.

Oh, and you know who’s also awesome in this part of the movie? Andromeda. Up to this point she’s been a fairly passive damsel in distress; a prize for Perseus, and a pawn between Calibos and his mother and her mother and Joppa. She wants to ride with Perseus but he says a journey like this is too dangerous for a princess. Her response is this:

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“Excuse me? Are we officially married yet? Were you crowned king last night? I don’t see any other royals here telling me I can’t do jack shit. If I can deal with being repeatedly hit on by a toga-wearing Mr. Tumnus, I can sure as fuck go on a quest to save my own tanned and toned ass. Move out, bitches.”

…Just, you know, more eloquent.

After a long trek through the desert and up a mountain, Bubo leads Perseus into the cave of the Stygian Witches. The Witches are blind but see through one eye that they repeatedly pass around and take from each other.

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“We already knew she was gonna reference us long before she started writing this review!”

Sensing they have a visitor, the Witches attempt to lure Perseus into a trap so they can capture and devour him, but Perseus quickly figures out what they’re up to. He has Bubo steal their eye and holds it hostage until they tell him how to kill the Kraken. The Witches inform him that no sword nor spear can pierce its scales, but there is one Titan can destroy another – specifically, the gorgon Medusa. Medusa was once a beautiful woman who was seduced by Poseidon, but cursed by Athena when she caught them making love in her temple. Now she’s a hideous creature who turns anyone who gazes upon her into stone.  If Perseus can survive the journey to her dwelling in the Underworld, kill her and face the Kraken with her head, Andromeda and all of Joppa will be saved. The Witches declare the battle will be a titan against a titan, but, unfortunately, not a clash of the titans. And I was so looking forward to inserting that one Family Guy clip in here.

Perseus updates the group  over the campfire. Andromeda insists on continuing with them, unafraid of the danger ahead as long as she can help protect her her beloved. Then she wakes up the next morning to find Perseus left without her so she has no choice but to go back to Joppa and wait to be Kraken chow. Yes I know she’d have to return eventually for the climax, but it’s still a shame that they were setting up Andromeda to be a potentially badass subversion of the damsel only to backtrack at the last second. She could have been the Jasmine to Perseus’ Aladdin; not a traditional fighter by any means but owning enough brains and moxie to hold her own when they’re in a scrap together. Not counting the goddesses the Greek pantheon is starved for kickass women, and though it wouldn’t have been a totally faithful adaptation of the legend if they had her help take down Medusa or face Calibos with Perseus in one last heated confrontation, the movie itself has already taken more than a few liberties with the source material that I would have excused making Andromeda more assertive.

After much traveling, Perseus and Co. reach the edge of the River Styx and summon the infernal ferryman that will take them to the Underworld, the undead Charon.

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“Can we make this trip quick, I have to go pick up Baron Munchausen’s soul in an hour.”

On the other side they are attacked by a two-headed wolf-like dog. I first assumed it was a version of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the Underworld, but missing one head due to animation or budget difficulties. Then in my research I learned that this dog is a creature all its own, Dioskilos. It still serves Cerberus’ purpose, except he’s guarding Medusa’s lair. Dioskilos manages to tear into a few red shirts (red togas?) before Perseus is able to do away with him and they enter Medusa’s lair.

Now before I go any further, I have to mention that Medusa’s tale is indeed a tragic one, with Poseidon actually raping Medusa and her being punished for it by being turned into a creature forced into isolation (seriously, are these myths the reason why rape culture still exists?) Even so, you forget all that once you enter her domain. The braziers paint the room a hellish red, half-blackened by shadows that you’re never sure if they come from the flames or from Medusa sneaking about. Statues of soldiers unfortunate enough to gaze upon the Gorgon litter the decrepit temple. And then there’s Medusa herself…

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“I’ll get you my Perseus, and your little owl too!”

Harryhausen didn’t want to make her a beautiful woman with limp snakes hanging in place of hair like previous incarnations. He sought to make her a true monster, and if the picture above is any indication he succeeded. In addition, she hisses instead of speaks, her snakes constantly writhe around her, and even her lower half is that of a rattlesnake’s. She moves about by either slithering about or crawling with her arms. Her intro is genuinely creepy with her darting between the columns with only her hideous silhouette hinting to her whereabouts and her rattling adding to the tension. Medusa also relies on more than her deadly looks to slaughter her enemies. She’s a skilled archer who takes out half of Perseus’ team with the kind of stealth that would make Hawkeye jealous. It’s less action movie at this point and more horror movie with the line between hunter and hunted blurred to the point where it’s nonexistent. And do I need to talk about the animation here? Harryhausen animated Medusa frame by frame in flickering firelight to keep consistency with the lighting in the room; all this adds up to a crowning jewel in his renowned treasury of cinematic works, and what many consider the definitive – and most frightening – cinematic incarnation of the Gorgon.

In addition to Medusa being an excellent foe, this scene is also an example of what I truly like about Perseus as a hero (apart from his inner nobility, silver tongue and his…heroic physique). He doesn’t rush in waving his sword at every confrontation and proves his cleverness time and again, making him a smarter hero than most people credit him for. In the original story Perseus simply sneaked into Medusa’s temple and decapitated her while she was sleeping, not exactly heroic by today’s standards. So they upped the ante by changing the scene into what I previously described and having him rely on his wits once more to outmatch her. He finds he can look at Medusa using his shield to reflect her and not get turned to stone and uses it to his advantage, dodging her arrows and avoiding her gaze as she searches for him. He pulls a Jurassic Park by tricking Medusa into a more vulnerable position with his reflection. And then, as she inches to where he’s hiding, Perseus lashes out with his sword – and against all odds he makes his mark.

Medusa is cut down for good.

Perseus reacts exactly the way anyone who watches this scene does – by letting out the biggest sigh of relief you can imagine and sinking to the floor. No big whoops or victory fist pump, he’s just glad it’s all over and he’s in one piece. He gathers the head but he can’t take his shield with him since it’s dissolving in Medusa’s acidic blood (she’s part-Xenomorph too? No wonder she’s so terrifying!) He emerges from the temple holding his prize up victoriously as the music swells; an awe-inspiring moment…or one that should be until you realize there’s no one there for him to show off to.

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“Behold my badass new hood ornament, anyone in the general vicinity!”

Perseus and the scant few of the original guard get some much-deserved rest as a storm brews, but guess who returns to wreak more havoc?

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You just don’t know when to quit, do you ol’ goat legs?

So rather than kill Perseus while he’s lying there defenseless, Calibos takes a different route. He pokes the bag containing Medusa’s head until its blood pours out. When it drips on to the ground scorpions appear from it and grow to giant size. Bubo sounds the alarm but although Calibos whips him into the river, Perseus and crew awaken to fight the scorpions. I was initially going to question the randomness of this new obstacle and how Calibos knew it would work, until I remembered that his mother is a god. If Zeus can lend a helping hand to his son now and then, there’s nothing stopping Thetis from dropping her kid a couple of hints on how to defeat him.

Any of Perseus’ guards that aren’t slaughtered by the scorpions meet their end at Calibos’ whip and trident. Perseus manages to kill the monsters and finally defeats Calibos for good. He’s disheartened that his companions are all dead, but at least he’s not alone; Bubo chooses that moment to emerge from the water completely unharmed.

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“Just stick me in a bag of rice for a couple of hours and I’ll be good.”

Perseus, completely exhausted from the back-to-back battles, has Bubo go rescue Pegasus from Calibos’ domain. He does, but not before setting the whole place on fire first for extra conflict. By the time they return to Joppa, the sun has set on Andromeda’s last day alive and Perseus can barely stay on his own two feet. Zeus reluctantly gives the order to release the Kraken, but when the other gods’ backs are turned he stands Perseus’ fallen figurine back up, which refills his life bar. He races on Pegasus to confront the Kraken.

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“I gotta save the place my D calls home! And also Joppa!”

A scantily clad Andromeda is chained to a rock King Kong-style and the Kraken, which I imagine looked very scary to a child of the 80’s (not as fearful as Medusa, mind you, but still fairly monstrous), is summoned. Considering how difficult it is to make stop-motion figures work when it comes to appearing wet or anything involving water (just ask Aardman), it’s animated impressively enough to pose a threat. Ray Harryhausen purposefully avoided trying to make the creature your typical tentacled sea monstrosity as per the usual legends and gave it a more humanoid design, which I admire for the size and scope more than anything else.

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Even if it does look like a giant four-armed Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Perseus flies by on Pegasus hoping to turn its attention away from Andromeda but gets knocked into the water along with the bag holding Medusa’s head. Then Bubo not only successfully distracts the creature but manages to rescue the bag before it’s lost and bring it to Perseus (and need I remind you people say he contributes nothing to this story). As the Kraken lunges at both Perseus and Andromeda, Perseus holds up the gorgon’s cranium; one look turns the Titan to stone and it crumbles to pieces. Perseus, having no more use for it, throws Medusa’s head into the sea, frees Andromeda, and finally marries her. The film ends with Zeus ordering the other gods to stop dicking around with Perseus and Andromeda’s lives and with him naming constellations after the heroes, Pegasus, and even Cassiopeia so their story will be remembered long after the reign of the gods has ended.

 

And that’s 1981’s Clash of the Titans. Is it an exciting action-packed adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone? Yes! Is it cheesy at times, though? HELL yes! There’s plenty of camp to go around and some of the effects and stop-motion don’t hold up considering how far SFX have come in the past thirty years, but all that lends to a certain charm few films with the same scope or budget have. Regardless of how cheesy it can be, however, there’s so much heart put into telling this classic story. All the actors are giving everything they’ve got, and seeing how this was Ray Harryhausen’s final movie, he made sure to end his career with a bang. The Medusa and the Kraken are some of the finest examples of stop-motion animation in history. They even give all the creatures he made their own credits as themselves, a detail which I love. As for the story, granted it’s not completely accurate to the original tale, but I don’t mind the changes made as it adds some enjoyable characters and moments while retaining the original spirit of this heroic epic. Changes or no, it’s important that these classic stories be retold to inspire and entertain future generations and keep them alive.

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Even if the most recent retelling isn’t very…good.

Well, there’s always hope that an even better remake will be made in another thirty years. You know it will happen. And I have the feeling that it will be done by someone who, like Harryhausen, knew the story and admired it enough to give it the respect it deserves.


Thank you for reading. If you like what you see and want more reviews, vote for what movie you want me to look at next by leaving it in the comments or emailing me at upontheshelfshow@gmail.com. Remember, you can only vote once a month. The list of movies available to vote for are under “What’s On the Shelf”.

 

I apologize for not throwing in a Harry Potter-related joke with Thetis and will try harder for next month’s review. It should be a cinch when there’s two Hogwarts professors involved…

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