Any Gen-Xer who grew up watching TBS no doubt came across Clash of the Titans, Desmond Davis’s kitschy celebration of Greek mythology. Zeus (Laurence Olivier) angers Thetis (Maggie Smith) when he transforms her mortal son Calibos (Neil McCarthy) into a deformed beast. The almighty god’s own son, Perseus (Harry Hamlin), kills Calibos and marries Andromeda (Judi Bowker) but must fulfill his ultimate destiny by protecting the fair maiden from the sea monster Kraken. Ray Harryhausen’s homely visual effects evoke sights unseen since Hoyt’s The Lost World, but his stop-motion creations (Pegasus, Medusa, the adorable mechanic owl Bubo) are every bit as memorable as the film’s curious casting. In addition to Olivier and Smith, Burgess Meredith stars as Perseus’s loyal mentor Ammon and Ursula Andress appears as Aphrodite (of course!). Smith was then married to the film’s writer Beverley Cross, who had worked previously with Harryhausen on the legendary Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. More memorable than the film’s set pieces (prime here is Perseus dodging Medusa’s arrows), though, is its high camp value. Smith, in particular, stands apart from the all-star crowd when Thetis (here, a huge stone head collapsed from its body) threatens to destroy a mortal kingdom unless it sacrifices the virginal Andromeda to Kraken. These fantastical He-Man epics were common in the early ‘80s (Legend, Conan the Barbarian, and The Beastmaster were all variations of the same theme), and while Clash of the Titans remains one of the genre’s homelier entries, there’s no faulting a film this lovingly and aptly arcane.
Clash of the Titans makes its digital debut on this Warner Home Video DVD, which preserves the film's original 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The good news is that the film looks better than ever. If color saturation is flat, it's to be expected. Indeed, Oscar-winning cinematographer Ted Moore's color palettes have always been noticeably drab. Sadly, dynamic range is poor and separation poorer on the disc's English 2.0 Dolby surround mix, so much so that you'll need jack up the volume just to make everything out.
The "Conversation with Ray Harryhausen" feature included on the disc (an excerpt from The Harryhausen Chronicles documentary) makes for a serviceable behind-the-scenes featurette. Harryhausen speaks freely of his fondness for romantic pasts and how he was inspired as a child by such early epics as Lang's Metropolis and The Lost World. Under Maps of Myths and Monsters, click on any of the monsters listed and Harryhausen details how they were created. Also included here are very incomplete filmographies and the film's original theatrical trailer.
Far from definitive, this is still a must-own for fans of Clash of the Titans tired of the crappy 16x9 version of the film that still airs on TBS.