Review of 1980s Fantasy ‘Clash of the Titans’

This is the first post in a new blog feature, called Something in Common. Now and then, when the muse strikes, I’ll write about topics that have “something in common” with one of my books. Topics at this time include Greek and Roman mythology, ancient Greece and Rome, newspapers, obit writers, cold cases, reality shows, health/fitness, artists, and much more. I’ll also feature guest posts on these subjects. Today’s column is my review of the 1981 film Clash of the Titans.

How does a 29-year-old epic fantasy movie relate to my mystery novels? If you’ve read my book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, you’ll recall that a pivotal subplot about Greek and Roman mythology provides clues into the unsolved murder of artist Diana Ferguson. In the book, the characters discuss gods and goddesses such as Zeus, Apollo and Artemis. I saw Clash of the Titans when I was about 10 years old, and I’m sure it helped to foster my childhood interest in mythology, an interest that would wind up planting the seeds for my first mystery novel.

Upon watching the film as an adult, though, the best part of the movie was Bubo, the mechanical owl that beeped and whistled like a flying Artoo-Detoo. The story follows the adventures of Perseus, (played by Harry Hamlin) mortal son of Zeus, as he struggles to free the beautiful Princess Andromeda from a cruel spell which imprisons her. Perseus challenges beasts including a half man/half-reptile, the snake-haired Medusa, and a sea monster. Thanks to a little help from his “heavenly” father, Perseus obtains magical tools to guide him through danger, such as the winged horse Pegasus, a helmet that renders him invisible, and of course, the mechanical wise owl Bubo. (I Googled the film and it turns out, I’m not the only fan who loved that owl.)

I thought the movie was well-cast with its line-up of actors including Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress and Burgess Meredith. The antiquated special effects, however, particularly the ones involving mythical creatures like Pegasus, surprised me. I’ll admit that my husband and I got a few chuckles out of it. True, the movie was released in 1981and special effects have come a long way since then. But still… since it was released post-Star Wars, I would have expected more by that time.

The film does have a certain swashbuckling charm, though, and there aren’t a lot of movies that give a glimpse into Greek mythology. I’ll be interested to see the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, which I’ll catch on DVD. I’ll be sure to review it here when I see it.

Has anyone seen either the 1981 film or the remake? What do you think?

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