Before you see Sam Worthington take on the monstrous Kraken and defy the Greek gods in Clash of the Titans
this weekend in theaters, you owe it to yourself to check out the charmingly cheesy original Clash of the Titans
directed by Desmond Davis in 1981. Instead of Worthington we have a bare-chested Harry Hamlin as Perseus, the heroic son of Zeus (Laurence Olivier). In this loose retelling of the classic Greek myth, Perseus is tasked with saving the beautiful Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker) from a virgin sacrifice to appease the Kraken, a powerful titan unleashed by Poseidon (Jack Gwillim) by order of Zeus to punish men for their arrogance.
See Hamlin in the movie that launched his career as he works the green screen and battles a slew of glorious stop-motion adversaries like Medusa, whose head of swarming snakes he needs so that her gaze will turn the Kraken to stone. The effects are obviously dated and, except for recent movies like Coraline or Fantastic Mr. Fox, stop-motion animation is a lost art form, but imagine what the CGI-dependent Worthington version will look like in 30 years when we won’t even need glasses to watch 3D movies. What the original lacks in snazzy effects it makes up for with more spirit than its modern remake.
The original Clash of the Titans was one of the biggest box-office hits of 1981 and retains its quirky charm on home video today. It has been available on DVD for years, but Warner Bros. just released the movie on Blu-ray on March 2. This high-definition version is lovingly encased in a metallically embossed 40-page hardcover digibook with production notes, cast and crew bios, color photos and illustrations. Extras include “A Conversation with Ray Harryhausen” (the stop-motion maestro behind the special effects) and the “Myths and Monsters Gallery” that highlights seven of the film’s creatures, including Medusa, the Kraken, the scorpions and Bubo (the beloved mechanical owl that makes a quick cameo in the 2010 version). When the Blu-ray loads, you’ll also be treated to a five-minute-plus preview of the new Clash of the Titans, which will hopefully reignite interest in Greek mythology or, if nothing else, this nostalgic old-school adventure.