Now here's a movie that should be in everybody's DVD collection. While the animation in movies like Jason and the Argonauts and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad may look extremely outdated these days, they were quite impressive when they first came out. And frankly, if it wasn't for all the brilliant work of Ray Harryhausen over the years, stop-motion animation may not have still been used in more modern films. Today, I'd like to pay tribute to one of his best works, the original Clash of the Titans, by breaking down my ten favorite things about it. So grab your sword 'n shield and let's get to it before the gods get angry.
Zeus Likes His Toys!
Zeus. King of the gods. Ruler of Mount Olympus. God of the sky and thunder. Here's a guy who was just really full of himself. Look at him sitting there on his throne between golden statues while a blue light spectrum flickers behind him. Talk about a showboat. In addition to glorifying himself, Zeus really seems to enjoy punishing people. And just how does he lay down the law?
With toys, of course! Zeus has a huge action figure collection that he doesn't appear to let any of the other gods play with. He just bosses them around and tells 'em who to kill next. Sometimes though, he'll just take one of his action figure representations of a human on earth and do some of the dirty work himself by crushing it in his bare hands...
I've always liked the idea that god is just a big spoiled kid with too many toys to play with. Clash of the Titans really helps drive the point home. He's clearly a total prick and man... who wouldn't give a million bucks for a chance to kick Zeus square in the nuts and steal all of his action figures? I know I would.
Poseidon Is The Man!
I know Poseidon wasn't in the movie much at all and the only real purpose he served was to turn a crank which raised a giant gate and unleashed the Kraken, but I'll be damned if he wasn't absolutely awesome. First off, you gotta feel bad for him being basically shrunk down and pasted on top of the footage of the gate being raised... out of all the effects in the movie, this was probably the cheapest one. Not exactly the way you'd expect to see the god of the sea put to use. Even so, it didn't stop Poseidon from being a total scene-stealing genius. Behold!
As a display of absolute wonder and amazement overcomes his face, we are treated to a slow-motion shot of Poseidon rising from an ocean. An ocean which is apparently filled with glitter. I guess he's amazed by the Kraken that he just let out, but it IS his pet after all... you'd think he'd be used to seeing the thing by now. Then again, maybe it's just all that glitter in the water that has him giddy as a little schoolgirl. Either way, it's a classic scene that I can't help but rewind and replay at least once whenever I watch this flick.
Fun fact: Poseidon is played by the late Jack Gwillim who also played the character of Van Helsing in another one of the greatest movies from the 80's: The Monster Squad.
Obviously, I can't talk about Poseidon without talking about the Kraken. The odd thing about the Kraken in this film is that it's not portrayed as the giant squid-like creature most of us are accustomed to seeing in pop culture. Instead, the Kraken in this movie is more like a giant merman... a Creature from the Black Lagoon who added some Miracle Grow to his diet if you will.
spends most of his time sleeping in a huge underwater cave, he's more than
happy to come out, stretch his legs and destroy a city or two in the
process whenever the gods tell him to do so. My guess is that Poseidon
tosses him a few
Scooby Kraky snacks here 'n there to keep the ol'
Krakster happy. I don't care if you're a god or not, you definitely don't
want to piss off a big sea monster like this.
Gifts From The Gods!
Perseus is the big hero of the movie who is determined to save Andromeda and then eventually marry her. Before he can accomplish all of this, Perseus must go through many struggles... but if you ask me, none could be more traumatic than his struggles as a child. When he was younger, Perseus had to go for long walks on the beach with his mother... completely naked. It's a good thing he never mentioned that to Andromeda or she might've had second thoughts about marrying him.
I guess the gods felt bad for being so cruel to Perseus at a young age with the naked mom walks 'n all, so they decided to give him some gifts that would aid him in his quest to save Andromeda. They give him three gifts: a sword that can cut through stone as if it were made of paper, a helmet that renders its wearer invisible, and a shield that will one day save his life. Personally, I'd be willing to bet he'd trade in all these gifts if the gods would just erase the memory of those long nude walks on the beach with his mom.
Fun fact: Harry Hamlin reprised his role as the voice of Perseus in "God of War II".
Bubo The Owl!
Being the genius that he is, Perseus quickly loses his helmet of invisibility in a swamp. Zeus then decides that a replacement gift should be given to him. Typical Zeus, always playing favorites with his toys... condemning some to eternal torture and giving others godly gifts. Anyway, Zeus commands Athena to send her magical owl "Bubo" to help Perseus. Loving the owl far too much to let it go to some puffy-lipped human, she decides to build a replica robotic owl to send to him instead. What, you didn't think there were robots in Greek mythology? Pfft, guess that shows how much YOU know.
What's great about Bubo is he only communicates with people through a bunch of whistles, bleeps and bloops and many have compared him to R2-D2 because of this. Furthermore, much like Luke can understand anything R2 says, Perseus can easily understand anything of the noises that Bubo makes too. (For the record, Bubo was created before "Star Wars".) To this day many people hate Bubo the owl because it seems like something that was added to the story just to entertain kids. Personally, I like Bubo simply because the concept is so ridiculous and laughable.
Especially when you consider how Bubo helps out Perseus by distracting the Kraken for a while. How big and bad is a giant monster if a tiny robot owl can keep it occupied for a while? I guess "Twin Peaks" was right... the owls are not what they seem.
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble... oh, and blindness too. Yep, these three witches are blind as a bat without the help of their magic crystal eye which allows them to see. Problem is they only have one of these magic eyes, so they have to take turns using it. With the help of Bubo the wonder owl, Perseus is able to steal the eye from them and offers to give it back if they agree to tell him how to kill the Kraken. They tell him he must show the head of Medusa to the Kraken, for it's the only way it can be killed.
What really amazes me is that these three witches were apparently able to kill somebody to make a big gumbo stew. In all honesty, if you get overpowered by three blind old hags, you deserve to be boiled alive in a stew. On a related note, why do they need such a huge cauldron? They're not exactly fat, so I can't imagine they're gonna eat it all by themselves. Are they having house guests later on? I can only imagine how shitty it would be to play a game of charades with them.
Yes indeed, the late, great Burgess Meredith had a small role in this movie as Ammon, a humble poet. He kind of helps motivate Perseus with great uplifting words such as "Call no man happy who is not dead!" and "I was partial to tragedy in my youth. That was before experience taught me that life was tragic enough without my having to write about it." You know, the kind of stuff that really makes people want to seize the day! Still, deep down I can't help but think that if Burgess popped in and shouted "Get up you son of a bitch! Get up and fight that Kraken 'cause Mickey loves ya!" when Perseus fell off of his Pegasus horse during the final battle, it might've made this the greatest movie ever. If not that, he could've at least let out one of his classic "waah-waah-waah!" Penguin laughs at some point. Oh what could have been...
When the evil devil-boy Calibos discovers Perseus and his men sleeping at a camp site, he stabs their bag which contains the head of Medusa. This causes the super-thick blood to leak out from the bag and the result is something completely random...
Apparently, when the blood of Medusa comes into contact with the ground, it turns into giant scorpions. They quickly grow from tiny to huge in a matter of seconds. And they're not the friendly variety either, these blood scorpions are clearly out for... well... blood.
Between Calibos and the scorpions, several of Perseus' men are killed off... one of whom gets nailed right in the chest by a scorpion. Unfortunately, the blood scorpions don't last much longer as Perseus hacks them to pieces with his god-sword and then dispatches Calibos too. Still, the idea that the blood of Medusa could create giant scorpions has always made this a memorable scene for me. And to those of you who keep pet scorpions in a tank, you're braver than I am because I wouldn't trust them not to triple in size overnight and kill me in my sleep. I don't care if you bought them at Pet Smart, you have no way of knowing whether or not they were spawned from the blood of ol' snakehead herself.
I don't care if they try to remake this movie or not, as far as I'm concerned, they'll never do a better job at recreating Medusa than they did with the one from Clash of the Titans. She was just too perfect. Seeing her turn some poor bastard to stone as her eyes glowed bright green and her snake hair wiggled about was pretty damned frightening back in the day. It's just a completely unforgettable close-up shot of one of the most infamous mythical monsters of all time.
On top of that, Medusa dying was easily the goriest scene in the entire movie. When Perseus chops off her head, her body writhes around for a bit and then finally collapses to the ground. The blood then gushes out. Hell of a cool thing to see when you're a kid, even if her blood looks more like a combination of lava and ketchup than real blood.
Here's lookin' at you, Medusa!
Charon The Ferryman!
Before they can fight Medusa, Perseus and his men must travel by boat to the Island of the Dead and there's only one person who can take them there: Charon the Ferryman! Perseus blows into a horn to call the ferryman and soon enough, like a ghost, Charon appears out of the fog.
As awesome as Medusa was, I've always been a sucker for creepy skeletal figures (Nicole Richie not included) and Charon the Ferryman is definitely one of the best you'll come across in a movie. He doesn't speak a word, he just collects his toll an takes them across the foggy river to the Island of the Dead. Perseus and his soldiers are clearly creeped out by him and don't say a single anything during the entire ride. All you hear is the boat slowly moving through the water while Charon's bones creak and crackle. Eerie as hell.
When they finally reach the island and he just turns to them and smiles. Well, he smiles as much as a skeleton can I suppose. I'm sure he was smiling because he knew they were gonna be fighting some deadly monsters soon enough. Anyway, Charon was always the scariest thing about the movie as far as I'm concerned and the nightmares I had as a kid about him are all the proof I need. Disagree if you will, but when it's done right, a skeleton in a cowl can look downright terrifying. Thanks for the memories, Charon.
And those are my favorite things about the original Clash of the Titans in a nutshell. If you don't already own it, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. I'm sure you'll find it FAR more entertaining than the 2010 remake. It's a truly entertaining movie filled with stop-motion action, adventure and... robo-owls! Viva la Harryhausen!
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So, can someone with a copy of the original movie confirm that those scorpions were already there? Now it's starting to needle me that I can't remember for certain.
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