Welcome back to Rotten Ink and our third update for my blog’s 10 Year Anniversary. For this one I want to take a look at one of my favorite fantasy films based on myth and folklore and that’s the 1981 film Clash Of The Titans! This is a film that I grew up watching and even had the action figures from Mattel. It was a staple of movie watching at our house in my youth and this is one update that I have been looking forward to since I started Rotten Ink all those years back and now for this big anniversary, it’s time to finally cover it as it’s long overdue. And I think kids of the 80’s and 90’s will really love this one as I am sure it will bring back lots of memories, so with that, let’s go on an epic quest with Perseus and Pegasus and try and save the day by bringing you one epic update
The first thing I would like to do is take a moment to really showcase the 1981 film Clash Of The Titans as sadly many younger readers might only know the 2012 remake film that is not even in the same league as the original. Plus for many of you, just sitting back and reading about the classic film might feel you with nostalgia like it did for me writing about it. So I will be taking the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB, and from there, I will write about the film’s production and then my thoughts and connection to the film. So with that, let’s get to Clash Of The Titans, one of the many great fantasy films from the 80’s.
Clash Of The Titans (1981)
“Perseus is the favored son of the god Zeus, but he has unwittingly ticked off the sea goddess Thetis. Just to make things worse, Perseus falls in love with the lovely Princess Andromeda, who used to be engaged to Thetis’ son, Calibos. Soon Perseus is off on one quest after another, with Zeus helping, Thetis hindering, and lots of innocent bystanders getting stabbed, drowned, and squished.”
Fantasy films were very popular at the cinema in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Script writer Beverley Cross had an idea for a film that would be called Clash of The Titans, and he wanted a rating that would allow young and old to enjoy his adventure masterpiece. But many changes had to be made to the script before it could get a softer rating: removing nudity from the character Andromeda, the Kraken killing the flying horse Pegasus as well as part of the fight between our hero Perseus and the creature man Calibos. And once the script was green lit, stop motion effects master Ray Harryhausen was brought on board to create the creatures as well as co-produce the film and would retire shortly after the film’s release. While films like Star Wars, Star Trek The Motion Picture and Superman had newer state of the art effects, Clash Of The Titans relied on the more classic effects of cinema that was made popular in the 1933 film King Kong. The film had a rocky start when it came to distribution as Columbia Pictures was originally on board but dropped the film due to the budget being too high for them to want to invest. Then Orion Pictures wanted them to have bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the lead. He was coming off the films Hercules In New York and Pumping Iron, but the film’s producer rejected this so they had to try MGM who ended up liking what they read and saw of Ray’s creatures and the film found its home with MGM even giving more money to get more cast added. Many name actors and up and coming ones were brought into play parts in the film with Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier and Ursula Andress playing lead roles and director Desmond Davis was selected by producer Charles H. Schneer to helm the film as he had history of working on period pieces. The film was shot in many locations like England, Italy and Gozo and was a very normal filming production for the time. Once done, composer Laurence Rosenthal was brought in to score the film, and it was released to theaters on June 12, 1981. Clash Of The Titans would bring in $41,092,328.00 at the American box office and would be ranked # 11 for the year and would gross more then such films as Tarzan The Ape Man, The Fox And The Hound, Excalibur, The Great Muppet Caper, An American Werewolf In London, Halloween II, Escape From New York, Friday The 13th Part 2, Mommie Dearest, The Howling, Caveman and The Legend Of The Lone Ranger to name a few. The film was mostly met with positive reviews from both film critics and viewers and has become a classic film over the years. The film went on to be released on cable TV as well as on home media and is well watched and loved to this day.
Clash Of The Titans is a film that I can remember my brother seeing first at school and rushing home to tell me how awesome it was, and a short time later I remember seeing it on TV and being drawn into the adventure it brought to the screen. As a kid I was always very much into mythology and the Greek and Roman ones captured by imagination and films like Clash Of The Titans helped fuel that love. The classic story of an epic quest to save the day as well as help a ladylove is stuff of classic fables and is why films like Clash Of The Titans, Beastmaster, Legend, Krull, Excalibur, Lady Hawk, Robin Hood and so many other films in the fantasy genre are some of my favorite films from my youth. I can also remember first time I saw the film on VHS and not on TV, I was mesmerized by the fact that the film had brief nudity and also just how awesome the effects are in the film as all of the monsters and strange characters look so cool and nothing can beat the effects of such an icon of movie special effects and that is of course Ray Harryhausen. While I liked the characters of Perseus, Medusa, The Kraken, Zeus and Princess Andromeda, my favorites as a kid were Calibos, Bubo and Thallo who I always felt was one of the film’s unsung heroes who is loyal to his kingdom and to protect the princess and when he died in the film, it held a big impact. I also remember reading the novel adaptation when I was a youngster and had many of the toys, but more on that later. Say what you will, but the 1981 version of Clash Of The Titans is one of the best fantasy films of the 1980’s and is one that I feel everyone should at least see once just for the effects alone. Really do yourself a favor and go and buy a copy of this film on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray and sit back and enjoy the epic ride.
The creatures of Clash Of The Titans are very epic as the main baddy is Calibos who was turned into a devilish looking satyr by Zeus, and besides his monstrous appearances, he is very sinister and sets up schemes and evil plots. For some reason his look always reminded me of the gargoyle leader played by Bernie Casey from the 1972 made for TV film Gargoyles. Calibos is a great movie villain and one of my favorites from the film as he just is so selfish and sinister. Another of the great monsters of Clash Of The Titans is Medusa who is half snake and half human woman who has crawling snakes as hair and whose stare will turn any man into stone. She is a character from classic Greek mythology and her appearance in this film is fantastic as Ray Harryhausen did a great job designing and bringing her to life on the big screen. And the big monster attraction of this movie of course is the monster of the sea The Kraken who wants to kill our film’s leading lady and is a truly sinister creature who kills with no remorse and keeps a whole city gripped in fear. While most reports of what a Kraken should look like is that of a giant squid, Ray Harryhausen made it more look like a Kaiju monster straight out of the world of King Kong or Godzilla films. And these three are only some of the monsters and creatures of the film as we also have the winged horse Pegasus, the two headed guard dog Dioskilos, a giant scorpion, the skeleton boatman Charon of the river Styx, a giant vulture, the three blind Stygian Witches and even the tiny golden robot owl Bubo. This movie has all types of cool creatures and horror themed baddies to make for a great watch for Monster Kids from all ages.
When I was a kid, Mattel was one of the biggest toy companies only rivaled by Kenner and Hasbro and in 1980 they decided to make action figures based on Clash Of The Titans with four figures around 3 ¾” tall, Perseus, Calibos, Thallo and Charon. And a figure of Pegasus and The Kraken was also made with The Kraken being a rare figure these days that fetches a good amount of money on the second hand market. Growing up my brother and I owned many of these figures. We had several Thallo as we would find him at garage sales all the time and would buy him and we also had Perseus and Pegasus and I can remember them all being on the side of good in my toy wars and teaming with Star Wars Jedi Luke Skywalker and G.I. Joe leader Duke. As I got older I was able to find Calibos and Charon at local comic shops and now have them in my toy collection. And sadly I have never owned The Kraken even though I have seen it for sale at local comic shops as well as at toy conventions, but the price is always super high. And after all these years, I still own the figures minus Pegasus who sadly broke when I was a kid as he was made of cheap plastic and cracked. These figures are super cool and fans of this film series should track them down and add them to your figure collection. And for those wonder my favorite figure of this series is Calibos with Perseus not too far behind in second. And no, the pictures below are not from my collection.
Besides the very cool Mattel action figures, many other cool merchandise was and has been released based on Clash Of The Titans that include a lunch box, comic book, t-shirts, posters, the soundtrack, novelization of the film, stickers, lobby cards, magnets, magazines and of course fan art. And for me the novel and soundtrack were must-have stuff and I have played tracks off the soundtrack on the radio show Alpha Rhythms. So again if you are a fan, there is lots of really cool stuff out there for you to collect.
Clash Of The Titans was always a film that was popular at our house when I was growing up as it was a great adventure with some great monsters and brought the classic stories of Greece to the big screen. And with that said, it’s also very cool that Golden Book decided to bring the film to the world of comics, just like they did with Gremlins another from them we have covered here on Rotten Ink some years back. And also I have to say that with Clash Of The Titans I have two copies of this comic book thanks to a vendor at Monster Bash Convention as well as Game Swap Kettering, so a big thanks to them for making this update possible. I would like to remind you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s have Golden Book unleash The Kraken!
Clash Of The Titans # 1 ***1/2
Released in 1981 Cover Price $2.50 Golden Book # 1 of 1
King Acrisius of Argos has angered Zeus when the King has placed a woman and her baby son Perseus into a wooden box and had them thrown into the ocean. And for this crime against the Gods, Zeus orders Poseidon to unleash a terrible storm as well as the last of the Titans, The Kraken, on the city as he wants them all dead…and the deed is done. And some time later Perseus and his mom are discovered and spend their lives in a new village and Zeus watches with pride as Perseus is really his son. But one goddess Thetis is not happy as Zeus has turned her son Calibos into a monster after he has hunted down and killed all the winged horses besides one named Pegasus, and this curse makes it so he can not marry princess Andromeda due to his monstrous look, but yet has given Perseus everything. When Zeus is away, Thetis sends Perseus to the city of Joppa that is very dangerous, and when finding out Zeus asks his fellow goddesses for help and they make his magical and powerful tools like a sword, helmet and shield. While in Joppa he also befriends the old poet Ammon who is watching after him and knows who he is. While in town Perseus meets Thallo, a royal guard who tells him that death comes to those who wish to win the hand of the princess Andromeda but cannot answer the riddle put before them, and just like that Perseus puts on the helmet and sneaks into the castle and watches as a giant Vulture takes the spirit of the princess away as he body remains on the bed. The next day Perseus and Ammon come up with a plan in order for our hero to follow the vulture to the lair of Calibos who they know is the one doing this to her. In order to fly, Perseus tames and rides Pegasus and follows the vulture that night to the swamps where he hears the answer to the riddle and also has a fight with Calibos who ends up getting his hand chopped off and later begs his mom to help him get revenge, but Perseus loses his magical helmet in the swamp. Perseus solves the riddle and on his wedding night, the goddess Thetis gets angry and curses Andromeda that she has to be sacrificed to The Kraken and if they do not the Titan will destroy all of Joppa! So now Perseus along with Thallo, Ammon, Andromeda, Guards and a robotic owl named Bubo begins a quest to find a way to stop The Kraken once and for all! Along the way Perseus gets the all seeing-eye from the Stygian Witches. He travels the River Styx to the island of Medusa, fights her two headed guardian Dioskilos, beheads Medusa to use her head to fight the Kraken but in the process loses his shield as well as many of his men. As Thallo and Perseus, sleep Calibos creeps into their camp and poke holes in the bag that holds Medusa’s head and her spilled blood turns into giant scorpions and sadly are defeated but not before killing Thallo and one other guard. But Perseus gets his revenge when he kills Calibos with a sword through his gut. In the end as Andromeda is chained to the cliff and The Kraken and Perseus appears riding Pegasus and uses the head of Medusa to turn The Kraken to stone and save the love of his life.
The first thing I need to say is that I really do think Golden Books did a great job of capturing the film Clash Of The Titans in this kid friendly comic book adaptation and while they cut some of the more racy and violent moments, they really do capture the adventure elements of the film well. The plot is that of a classic quest as our hero Perseus must find a way to defeat a massive Titan that is set to kill his bride all because a goddess is jealous of his attention from Zeus. Perseus is your classic hero who is the son of Zeus who is a skilled fighter, brave and true to who he is. He is willing to risk his life in order to fight for the life of his new wife the princess Andromeda, but to be fair during is very dangerous quest he does have the help of the gods. But over all a very great hero and the comic does him justice. Bubo The Golden Owl who was sent by the gods in order to help on the quest really is a hero as well as he is the one who finds the way, saves the head of Medusa from falling into the ocean and even brings Pegasus to Perseus to make the rescue in time. And sadly Thallo is down played in the comic as they only had so many pages, and it’s a shame as his death in the comic does not pack a punch at all. All the baddies do their part with Calibos being the biggest pain in the butt as he wants revenge and to deal death out to those he feels wronged him. The Kraken as well is pretty cool and does his damage to people and that is what he is a major danger…but I should also say so is Medusa who can turn people into stone as well as have poison arrows and blood. I really do feel that Golden Books did a great job with this comic, and I would have love to seen them continue making comics like this as they covered the ones that the other companies like Marvel and DC failed to do that really should have had comics. The cover for this comic is pretty eye catching and showcases the classic painting as well as promo pictures from the movie, and I am sure if you were a fan of this film this would have gotten your attention. The interior art is done by Dan Spiegle and is simple and yet really great and reminds me of the adaptations done by companies like Gold Key and Dell Comics, and I feel his art for the monsters is great and who ever also did the coloring deserves praise. Over all if you love Clash Of The Titans you should check this Golden Book Comic out as it is very much worth reading. Check out the artwork of Spiegle below to see his style.
Before I wrap up this update, I would like to touch on the “What If” of other films that Golden Books could have made into these comic book graphic novels that would have been awesome to have in the world. I am sure remember you long time readers know that Golden also gave Gremlins the comic treatment as we covered it back in 2016 and you can read that one HERE. Let’s take a look at the years 1980-1985 and choose some films that fit the kid friendly nature of Golden as well as ones that did not get the attention of other comic companies going at the time. So for me these could have and should have gotten the Golden Book treatment: The Beastmaster (1982), The Last Unicorn (1982), The Secret Of NIMH (1982), Hercules (1983), The NeverEnding Story (1984), Legend (1985) and The Peanut Butter Solution (1985) and if they went a little into the PG era of horror since the 80’s was a hotbed for that genre I would say Poltergeist (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) and Cat’s Eye (1985) would have all been great picks to get the comic treatment and give readers something cool to go along with the films they enjoy. Again just imagine these as a What If, that sadly never happened.
Clash Of The Titans is a great fantasy quest film that ended up getting the comic book treatment thanks to Golden Books. And if you have not seen Clash Of The Titans from 1981 make sure to give it a watch as it really is a fun film that has some really cool creatures in it and will surely deliver you with a few hours of entertainment. So for our next update, we are leaving Joppa and heading to Japan as we will be talking about Tomie one of my favorite Manga and Japanese horror films. So until next time read, a comic or three, watch a fantasy film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a truly scary update that will surely send shivers down your spine.