Clash of the Titans


 The summer of 1981 had many blockbuster films that became movie classics. One of course is Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I covered the 30th anniversary of the release of the film a few months ago. There was also another big adventure film to come into theaters the very same day Raiders did. On June 12, 1981, the fantasy adventure Greek mythology film Clash of the Titans was released and even though it came out on the same day as the biggest movie of the whole year, it still did successful at the box office. It was a great time to be a kid during the late 70’s and early 80’s with awesome films like Clash of the Titans being out in theaters across the country.

Since the release of Star Wars in 1977, movie studios were looking high and low for the next big box office smash. They also had to come up with films that they could market to kids and they could produce merchandise like clothes, toys, comic books, records, etc. that children or teens would buy. Tons of films were pouring in after the release of Star Wars, like Superman, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Empire Strikes Back, Superman II, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Clash of the Titans joined that line up in the summer of ’81 and became a favorite for kids during that time.

The background of the film starts with Ray Harryhausen, who is famous for his stop

From left; Perseus, Calibos, and Medusa

motion animation effects in films like Mighty Joe Young, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Jason and the Argonauts just to name a few. Before all this CGI stuff they have now, stop motion animation was the way to go and in my opinion was more effective. The effects looked real for the most part and with CGI most of the effects look fake or look like a cartoon. Harryhausen came aboard the film not only to do effects, but also co-produce. This would be a great fantasy adventure film with the awesome effects of Harryhausen and a cast of veterans and newcomers.

Mattel's line of Clash of the Titans toys

The movie is basically about Perseus (Harry Hamlin) who is the son of Zeus (Laurence Olivier) and when he was a baby was placed in a wooden casket along with his mother and set out to sea to drown. Zeus makes sure that they are safe and the wash ashore on an island. Zeus is angry with the King Acrisius of Argos for doing this to them and orders a sea monster, the Kraken, to destroy their land and everyone with it.

When Perseus is older he is transported from his home to a town called Joppa by the God Thetis (Maggie Smith). Thetis is upset with Zeus for transforming her own son, Calibos (Neil McCarthy) into a satyr-like creature for killing all the flying horses leaving only one, Pegasus. Thetis also curses all men who try to marry Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker). Andromeda was to marry Calibos before he was changed into a monster.

While in Joppa, Perseus befriends a man named Ammon (Burgess Meredith) and is given three gifts from Zeus and the other Gods to help him in his journeys. He gives him a helmet that will make him invisible, a sword, and a shield. He also meets Andromeda and falls in love with her. He is warned about the curse and Perseus battles with Calibos and in the fight he severs his hand. Perseus is given a chance to marry Andromeda if he answers a riddle. He does so and he is granted to marry the Princess. Thetis is upset with this and on the day of their wedding, Thetis curses the town and wants Amdromeda to be the virgin sacrifice to the Kraken in thirty days unless Perseus can find a way to destroy the Kraken. If she does not go through with the sacrifice, the town will be destroyed by the Kraken.

Perseus gathers a team to find a way to kill the Kraken before the thirty days is up. He seeks help from three blind old women who tell him that the only way to kill the Kraken is that if the creatures looks into the eyes of Medusa the Gorgon. Once Medusa was a beautiful woman, but was transformed into a hideous creature by the Goddess Aphrodite (Ursula Andress). Now if anyone looks at her face they will be turned to stone. Now Perseus has to travel and find Medusa and figure out a way to use her evil looks to kill the monster or his love will be sacrificed to it.

When I was a kid in ’81 I saw a few good movies that summer including Raiders of the Lost

Perseus action figure

Ark, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, and Clash of the Titans. I was excited about seeing Clash knowing that it was a fantasy adventure film and being a fan of that genre I couldn’t miss this film. Clash also had some great scary monsters in the movie. At the time horror wasn’t my thing because those films scared the hell out of me and didn’t even bother watching any horror movies. I didn’t become a fan of horror films until my early teens and the rest is history. So, from what I remember the monsters in Clash scared me a little, but not too much. I was more frightened with scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Clash featured some of the greatest stop motion animation monsters like Medusa, Calibos, and the Kraken.

Charon and Calibos action figures

Some of my favorite scenes in the movie were the scenes in Medusa’s lair, which is my all time favorite scene in the movie. Very frighten and thrilling throughout the scene as one by one Perseus’ army are turned to stone by the evil creature. The swamp scenes with Calibos and where Perseus battles with him are a good one. The scene with the creepy three blind ladies is good and the battle with the Kraken at the end is another highlight of the movie. I also want to mention the character of Bubo, a mechanical owl that is sent to help Perseus by the Gods. Ever since Star Wars came out and introduced the droid characters of C-3PO and R2-D2 into pop culture and children around the world, every sci-fi or fantasy film has some type of little cute robot to copy the Star Wars droids. Bubo has some similarities to R2-D2, but Harryhausen says he created Bubo before Star Wars was released.

Just like with Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Clash of the Titans put out a line of toys. Mattel is the toy company that produced these. They made four action figures (Perseus, Calibos, Thallo, and Charon), a Pegasus and a Kraken toy, and a Lair play set, which was the swamp setting where Calibos lived. I collected a few action figures that Mattel put out. Any toy that came from a movie, TV show, comic book, or cartoon that I liked I would try to get. For Clash, I had the Perseus, Calibos, and Charon. Charon was pretty cool because he was the boatman on the River Sticks in the film and he was just a skeleton in a hooded robe. The character was kind of looked like one of The Blind Dead. Mattel was going to put out another line of action figures from the film, but by the time they wanted to do that, the film was all ready out of theaters and there wasn’t a big demand for more toys from the film. So, it was sad for kids that Mattel didn’t put out more toys from Clash, but the ones they did release were very cool.

Clash of the Titans is an awesome film and it was a favorite of mine when I was growing up. It was very cool to be a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s with tons of great films that were geared towards kids, but also teens and adults can enjoy them too. Clash is still a great film to watch today. It is an excellent adventure story, with a good cast, and great special effects from Ray Harryhausen. Don’t bother watching the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans and just go watch the original 1981 classic, which is one of the best fantasy films to come out of the 1980’s.