1981’s Clash of the Titans signals the end of an era. In the fifties, sixties and even part of the seventies, stop-motion maestro Ray Harryhausen was the guy you went to if you wanted to do a fantasy epic. His stop-motion animation brought so many fantasy adventures to life, such as Jason and the Argonauts, Mysterious Island and the various Sinbad movies. He was easily one of the people responsible for truly bringing magic into the movies, but the game started to change in the seventies, especially once Star Wars was released. By the time other fantasy epics like Conan the Barbarian were being planned, Harryhausen was at work on what would be his most ambitious movie to date, Clash of the Titans.
Telling the myth of Perseus, Harryhausen would face some of the most significant logistical challenges of his career, as he’d have to use his effects to portray Medusa, The Kraken, and more convincingly. By the time the film came out, many wondered if Harryhausen’s charming but old-fashioned effects would seem archaic next to what ILM was doing. Indeed, Clash of the Titans opened the same day as Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, while it wasn’t a monster hit, Clash of the Titans still grossed a solid $41 million in North America and even more overseas. Against all odds, it was a legitimate hit, if not a game-changing blockbuster. It would eventually be remade, and that remake would be such a big hit, it would get a (troubled) sequel, Wrath of the Titans.
In this episode of Fantasizing About Fantasy Films, which is written and narrated by Jessica Dwyer, edited by Bill Mazzola, and produced by Adam Walton, we dig into the making of Ray Harryhausen’s final epic, which sports an all-star cast, and offered an early role to Harry Hamlin, who would become an eighties heartthrob on L.A. Law and can now be seen on AMC’s Mayfair Witches.
Do you think the original Clash of the Titans holds up? Let us know in the comments.