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April 2, 2010

Geek Out!: Classic 'Clash of the Titans'

Posted: 09:22 AM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

Yes, the new “Clash of the Titans” movie comes out this weekend, and yes, I will go see it (but not in 3-D). But as good as this film could be, it cannot and will not replace the original 1981 version as one of the “classic” movies of my younger days.

The story is an ancient tale of bravery, love, gods and monsters. Growing up, I remember watching the movies of Godzilla and Gamera and being bedazzled by the awesomeness of monsters coming to life on the screen.

I also watched King Kong, Mighty Joe Young and the Sinbad movies just for that reason. I became familiar with the name Ray Harryhausen after watching “Jason and the Argonauts” and the animations of skeletons fighting the sailors.

Even though I knew it wasn’t real, Harryhausen’s stop-motion model animation made it seem real. But it was in “Clash of the Titans” where his most memorable work was waiting for me.

The skeletons returned to harass Perseus and his men as well as giant scorpions, a winged horse, mythical creatures, and, of course, the Kraken. The legend of the Kraken portrayed them as very large octopi or squid. Harryhausen went one step better and gave the monster a head that resembled a cross between a parrot and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Even the funny and smart mechanical owl, Bubo, was made so well that I wanted to find an owl like that for myself.

It wasn’t that these creations were done so masterfully that made the movie memorable. It was that there were so many throughout the entire film. A scene with one animated creature would end and another would begin with a brand new monster. As a teen boy who was reading Tolkien (for the billionth time) and playing “Dungeons and Dragons”, these were my imaginations coming to life.

“Clash” would be Harryhausen’s last feature film to showcase his stop-action work. Computer animation was already being used and movie companies were using it more and more for their productions. While the use of computers made the creatures more life-like, they seemed to sap away my need for my imagination to make them seem real.

While I have only seen trailers for the new version, I can say I am impressed with the new Kraken. I will go see the 2010 film and probably be dutifully entertained. Will I come away with the emotional and nostalgic feelings that I get when I watch the 1981 version?

Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I won’t like it.

What was your favorite part of the 1981 “Clash of the Titans”? What made it a memorable movie for you? Let us know in the comments area below. In the meantime, here's what moviegoers told iReporter Chris Morrow about the new version at an early screening.

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Filed under: Geek Out! • Movies • pop culture

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Karl B   April 2nd, 2010 10:12 am ET

Back in the early 80's though, this movie was not considered geekish, it was just considered plain awesome.

India   April 2nd, 2010 10:17 am ET

Tim Pigott-Smith as Thallo is the reason =I= love that movie!

aibarra   April 2nd, 2010 11:31 am ET

I loved the 3 witches that had to share the one eye!!! Oh and Bubo of course! I too wanted a pet owl!

bond12   April 2nd, 2010 12:28 pm ET

There is a scene involving fighting skeletons in the movie, "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad." I believe this also was created by
Ray Harryhausen.

Mich   April 2nd, 2010 12:39 pm ET

Yes, the fighting skeletons are from 'Jason and the Argonauts', CNN! There are NO fighting skeletons in the 1981 'Clash'.

I loved the original, too! Not really interested in seeing another version. Weren't there any other myths they could have made? The Greeks and Romans had a lot of them, you know...

And yeah, Bubo the mechanical owl was a result of the 'Kids love robots! We gotta include a robot!' post-'Star Wars' line of thinking.

Steven   April 2nd, 2010 12:51 pm ET

I was very frightened by the Medusa scene. Especially when she looked directly at the camera. I had to hide my face as I thought I was going to be turned to stone as well.

Tim   April 2nd, 2010 12:58 pm ET

all i need now is a remake to "Krull" and i will be in heaven. 🙂

majicks   April 3rd, 2010 9:32 am ET

I have been a life-long Harryhausen fan, but I will go to see the new Clash. I will probably enjoy it for what it is, a high-tech remake of a classic film. I'm sure the whole project began because of the filmmakers love of the original, but will they capture the magic of the Harryhausen effects? I very much doubt it.
How do you duplicate a hand-crafted film, with one created for the most part on a computer? Every creature that appeared in the original film was imbued with a performance by one man. Harryhausen was an actor by proxy, each movement, every turn of the head, every action and reaction was choreographed by him. That is why his name appears as a single credit 'Creator of Special Visual Effects'
A remake is easy to do, but recreating the magic that Ray Harryhausen brought to all of his films, that is a different matter.

john martin   April 5th, 2010 11:03 am ET

Ray Harryhausen visited my college (Georgia State University) in the late seventies. He brought the Kraken with him and we were all enthralled by his kind manner, keen wit and legendary status among
all of us who grew up on his great work. He described how he would
lay on the ground to get the perspectives right, slide rule in hand.
That was old school at its best.
John Martin

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