Clash of the Titans (Keepcase) (1981)

Actors: Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress
Director: Desmond Davis
Writers: Beverley Cross
Producers: Charles H. Schneer, John Palmer, Ray Harryhausen
Format: Color, DVD, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: March 2, 2010
Run Time: 118 minutes

Special Features

  • A Conversation with Ray Harryhausen
  • Myths and Monsters gallery
  • Theatrical trailer


What if you make a special effects movie, but the special effects aren’t really special at all?

What if they were downright terrible? No, I’m not referring to the 1997 movie version of Spawn here, but rather 1981’s Clash of the Titans, which mixed Greek mythology with other elements (some Shakespeare and Norwegian mythology is to be found, not to forget about a dash of R2D2 in an out-of-place robotic owl).

In brief: the movie deals with Perseus battling demonic creatures such as Margaret Thatcher, er sorry, that would have been too scary for the kids, I meant Medusa, oversized scorpion monsters, the Kraken, etc. Harry Hamlin plays Perseus. (Yes, him of L.A. Law fame!) Zeus is played by Lawrence Olivier who were probably thinking retirement fund at this stage of his career!

Did you catch the reference about the creatures in Monsters, Inc. going to a restaurant named Harryhausen’s? Well, then Clash of the Titans is for you. It was the last movie on which one Ray Harryhausen (1920 - ) has ever worked as effects supervisor. Harryhausen is one of the greatest special effects men ever to have worked in Hollywood and revolutionized so-called “stop motion,” a painstakingly slow process in which models of creatures are brought to live by moving them one film frame at time. Modern examples of the process include the clay models of Chicken Run and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare before Christmas.

Today we have computers. Director Burton wanted to use stop motion to animate his Martian invaders in Mars Attacks! but finally settled on CGI instead because stop motion was considered too expensive and slow. If you’re in your mid- to late 30s or older, then the chances are good that some of your childhood fond memories would include those of a threatening golden minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) and other fantastical creatures. Harryhausen’s credits include amongst others The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms (1953), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1955), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and One Million Years B.C. (1967).

Younger age groups may also have fond memories of Clash of the Titans since the movie has been shown often on Ted Turner’s TNT channel throughout the years and probably have become Harryhausen’s best-known movie in the process.

Nostalgia is however a thing of a past as I often say. Today the effects in Clash of the Titans look really really bad. To be honest, I remember thinking the same when I saw the movie as a kid back in the early 1980s – in the meantime Harryhausen’s special effects have been overtaken the visual wizardry of flicks like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Now don’t get me wrong: I am not the type to harp on bad special effects or old movies. Au contraire. The problem with Clash of the Titans is that the movie lacks the energy, wit or flaming camp to make it truly enjoyable. Instead, some bits are rather dull and plodding and the acting lacks the over-the-topness that would have made it a more of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of affair.

However, small boys would probably be terrified by it and Harryhausen fans would want it for completeness’ sake.

RECOMMENDATION: If you want to give your little boy nightmares, then this is the disc to buy him! Er, just kidding, but I think small kids will enjoy the movie and so will Harryhausen fanatics. My problem is just that if the movie were something like ten years older, then its aged special effects would have been easier to forgive. If you are intent on your 1980s movie nostalgia trip however, then this is the way to go about it . . .



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