Clash of the Titans (1981)

clash of the titans poster 1981 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Ray Harryhausen's creatures help make the movie

Kind of slow paced, generic mythology story

Movie Info

Movie Name: Clash of the Titans

Studio: MGM

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): June 12, 1981

MPAA Rating: PG


Take that Kraken!

Perseus (Harry Hamlin) and his mother are spared death by his father Zeus (Lawrence Olivier), but Perseus has a destiny. When Thetis (Maggie Smith) seeks revenge on Zeus for his treatment of her son Calibos (Neil McCarthy), Perseus is left in Joppa where he meets Ammon (Burgess Meredith). Joppa is under a curse and only Perseus can free Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker). Even if Perseus can save Andromeda from Calibos, the wrath of the gods could curses Joppa forever.  With his love for Andromeda threatened, Perseus must find a way to battle the gods and become a legend!

Directed by Desmond Davis, Clash of the Titans is a 1980s fantasy adventure. It was met with mixed reviews, but the film’s stop-motion animated special effects by Ray Harryhausen were largely heralded. The movie had a toyline released for it and a comic book sequel called Wrath of the Titans released in 2007 by Bluewater Productions.

I loved mythology as a kid, and The Clash of the Titans came out right at the right time for me.  The movie was rated PG though the original script would have been R, and by today’s standards it still would have been an R-Rated movie.  A few of the opening scenes includes the baby Perseus being breastfed and a shot of he and his mother nude on the beach, but that is the joy of the “old PG”…but today’s parents might be a little weary of the adult content.


You suck Perseus!

The movie has a big epic cast. Harry Hamlin was just starting out in this picture, and Judi Bowker was also a young actress. The real acting clout came from the supporting cast who really didn’t have much part in the story. Lawrence Olivier plays the perfect Zeus and Maggie Smith is a nice jealous Thetis (she was married to the screenwriter Beverley Cross). The rest of the gods and goddess also are names (mostly English). Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Jack Gwillim as Poseidon, and the “strong man” from all the original Indiana Jones movies Pat Roach as Hephaestus. Burgess Meredith plays his normal wise self as the poet Ammon.


Yo Medusa? Who does you’re hair?

The real stars of Clash of the Titans however are Ray Harryhausen’s creations…especially the Kraken and the archer snake woman Medusa. They are crude by today’s standards, but like all of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion creatures, they have real life…something that computer animated villains don’t have. It is partially because it is easy to see how much work Harryhausen put into their creation, motion, and design. The mechanical owl Bubo is also a fan favorite, and Harryhausen has said that it wasn’t included to try to play on R2-D2’s popularity as many report. It would be neat if the film could be remastered to make the blue-screen background more of a match to the color and tone of the claymation creations.


At this point in the movie, I think it would be funny if Perseus just walked away and said “She’s just not worth it”

The story of Clash of the Titans unfortunately is a big mash-up of mythology. It just combines interesting parts of the Perseus story with other generic mythology characters. I loved what they tried to do with Clash of the Titans, but I wish it had stuck a bit closer to the ancient tales…but the stories were quite short and rarely had interconnections. Still, it is quite entertaining, though the pacing might be a bit slow for kids with short attention spans.

Clash of the Titans takes what would have been a bargain bin fantasy and elevates it to something better. The movie is remembered quite favorably by kids of the ’80s and as a result, a remake came out in 2010 further muddling down the original Greek myths. The 2010 Clash of the Titans was followed by Wrath of the Titans in 2012 showing that the original still has staying power.

Related Links:

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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