Happy Anniversary, PERSEUS!

Wow. Can it really be THIRTY-ONE years since the release of CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)? Yes. Yes, it is.

I saw it in a theatre, before the advent of the multiplex. As a callow youth of seventeen, I knew that the effects were by the same guy that did JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955), though some of the effects weren’t up to the same quality as had been in JASON, but had no idea of the reason why, nor the film’s significance at the time. Of course, ‘the guy’ I’m talking about is Ray Harryhausen.  It wasn’t until many years later that the significance I referred to, became apparent to me. When I’d seen CLASH, I had no idea that it would be Harryhausen’s final feature film, nor that the reason the effects were not as consistent as his previous works, was because for the first time, he needed others to assist him, where previously, he’d always worked alone.

Aside from that, CLASH boasted quite the impressive cast, topped with a pedigree of no less than Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA, Tony and Saturn Award winners, Sir Laurence Olivier (Zeus), Dame Maggie Smith (Thetis), Claire Bloom (Hera) & Burgess Meredith (Ammon). Add in first ‘Bond Girl’ Ursula Andress (Aphrodite), (then) newcomers Harry Hamlin and Judy Bowker as the hero & heroine – Perseus & Andromeda; a scene stealing mechanical owl named Bubo; the battle with Medusa – called the finest stop-motion action scene in movies – and what has turned into an ‘immortal’ catch phrase (in varied forms) – “Let loose The Kraken!”, and you have what’s turned out to be a classic, memorable film.

The one thing that always annoyed me though, was the use of the ‘ultimate’ monster, The Kraken. The Kraken was never a part of Greek mythology (let alone a Titan), but rather a creature from Scandinavian legend. It was also not of reptilian origin, but was supposedly more like an over-sized squid. I heard Harryhausen say, in one of the commentary tracks on one of his films that the reason they did that, was because the producers and writers thought that it would be more exciting to have a new, strange, more humanoid creature, as opposed to the monster, Cetus, in the ‘actual’ myth, as it was little more than a giant fish (or whale). OK, I accepted that reasoning. Hell, to confess I even had a toy Kraken on my ‘monster shelf’.

One final note, in relation to even more proof of the pop culture ‘staying power’ of the ORIGINAL version of CLASH – Harry Hamlin revisited the role of Perseus, providing the character’s voice, for the Playstation 2 video game, GOD OF WAR II.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pop it into my DVD player. Might I suggest you do the same?

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