Okay, what's wrong with this list? Sir Laurence Olivier,
Dame Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, and Ursula Andress. Those are the gods
and goddesses of heaven in tonight's movie, Clash of the Titans, one of
THE most requested movies on "MonsterVision," something of a cult classic,
also starring Harry Hamlin in his film day-butt, as Perseus, with his
magic sword. Lord Olivier, Dame Maggie, and Claire Bloom were combining
their 150 years of classical stage experience while Harry and Ursula were
making a baby! They had a kid together, right? Harry Hamlin was making USE
of that magic sword.
All right, let's do the drive-in totals and
get it going. We have:
48 dead bodies. One dead wolf. No
breasts. Tidal wave. Grecian voodoo. Burning at the
stake. Giant vulture transport. Winged horse wrangling. Mutant
axing. Hand rolls. Head rolls. Claw rolls. Arrow to the
back. Two-headed wolf attack. Giant scorpion attack. Sword
wielding. Kraken crumbling. Blatant day-for-night. Whip Fu.
Greek statue Fu.
Two stars. Roll film.
[fading] This is
another Ray Harryhausen flick, and it's either one of the greatest
achievements in stop-motion animation special-effects filmmaking, or else
a cheap grade-B camp classic. Fortunately, at "MonsterVision" WE DON'T
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #1
"Welcome to Joppa,
Prince Perseus." The great Burgess Meredith, in a very winning role. Now,
if you were with us for the first movie, you'd know that this is known as
a Ray Harryhausen film. Even though it's directed by Desmond Davis, and
it's written by Beverley Cross, and it stars Laurence Olivier, the real
stars are the giant sea lizard and the tidal wave and the many other
special-effects creatures we will see later.
It was the first time
that Ray Harryhausen had a REAL big-studio budget. The film cost about $16
million. It was supposed to be Ray's great epic at last, where he had real
actors and a real budget, and he wasn't just doing set-pieces with
dinosaurs, but the special effects were really a part of a compelling
story. And so fantasy fans everywhere were waiting for the release of this
movie, and it was a minor hit in the summer of 1981. But it turned out to
be the last film Ray Harryhausen made, and the last film of his long-time
producer, Charles H. Schneer. I think what happened is that they perfected
stop-motion animation about five years too late. After Star Wars, it
just wasn't as thrilling as it used to be. Technology had moved on.
Harryhausen and Schneer had a whole bunch of other films planned for the
future, but they never did pan out. In 1992 the Motion Picture Academy
gave him a special Oscar for his life's work, pretty much signaling that
this kind of film was a piece of history. Critics are divided on whether
it's a great film or a cheesy film. You can't be CYNICAL and watch this
movie, I'll put it that way. Okay, back to the movie--time to trot out Ray
Harryhausen's famous Vulture. Roll it.
[fading] Dynamation, he
called this process. Later changed to Dynarama. He didn't like to tell
anybody how he did anything. Very secretive guy. He thought animators
should be like magicians--don't tell any secrets that would spoil the
illusion. What Ray doesn't understand is that none of us really WANT to
know the secrets. You gotta be a major techno-geek to wanna find that
stuff out. "Uh, Ray, did you shoot at 48 frames per second and add a
flicker effect on that giant crab shot?" I mean, please.
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #2
Judi Bowker as
Andromeda. Whoa! She's supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the
world--and she IS. You may have noticed that Harry Hamlin and Burgess
Meredith are pretty much the only Americans in the cast. Otherwise, it's a
Brit Fest. The reason is that Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer, the
producer, had gone to England in the late fifties to make movies over
there, and they just never left. They lived two doors away from each other
and planned their movies every single day. And they liked to use the
British screenwriter Beverley Cross. Beverley was a big fan of Greek
mythology, spoke Greek, and spent his summers on the island of Skiathos in
Greece, which is where he got the idea for this movie. Skiathos is one
island over from Seraphos, the island where Perseus is supposed to have
washed ashore in a trunk. More important, Beverley Cross was married to
Maggie Smith. So one day he threw the script on the bed and told Maggie to
read it, and he convinced her to ask Laurence Olivier if he would be in
it. Laurence Olivier was in the mood to be in ANYTHING in those days,
because he had become very sick, he couldn't act on the stage anymore--he
had dermatomyositis, and leg thrombosis, both of which sound very
painful--but he wanted to make a bunch of money to leave to his offspring
before he died. So he took this role the same year he took a role in
"Inchon," the big movie that the Moonies did over in Korea--it's one of
the worst movies in the history of film. And once HE agreed to do it, then
Maggie Smith herself wanted to be in it, and then Claire Bloom agreed to
be in it, and everybody else fell into place. They called Ursula Andress
in Rio, where she was dancing all night in discos, and asked her if she
would be the goddess of love, Aphrodite, and she said yes--she wasn't
currently IN LOVE, so she would take the role. She only took acting roles
when she was NOT in love. And then, of course, she got hooked up with
Harry Hamlin while they were making the movie, and pretty soon she had a
little rug-rat on her hands. One of the goddesses CONSORTED with Perseus,
as they say. But that's another story. Let's get back to the camp classic
"Clash of the Titans."
[fading] Harry Hamlin's a tiger, isn't he?
Got married to Nicolette Sheridan. Then she went off with Michael Bolton,
right? Then Michael Bolton went off with Claudia Schiffer. Then Claudia
Schiffer went off with David Copperfield. Remember when Harry Hamlin
kissed Michael Ontkean square on the lips in that movie about hunky gay
guys, "Making Love"? How would you like your girlfriend to see THAT? Maybe
it works. Maybe it makes you a "sensitive guy." It wasn't one of those
tight-lip jobs either--it was a SLOPPY one.
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #3
Calibos. One of the great sequences in the film, with the fetid marshy
swam p-- what does "fetid" mean?
I always wanted to use "fetid" in
I don't know what it means, but I think that swamp is
"fetid." And, of course, those scenes with Pegasus are among the most
beautiful sequences Ray Harryhausen ever created. Have you noticed that
Harry Hamlin GAPES a lot in this movie? A lot of open-mouthed staring.
This was NOT his movie debut, by the way. I was wrong when I said that
He was first seen in "Movie Movie" in 1978. But it was
his first starring role. He had starred in a TV miniseries called "Studs
Lonigan." And then later, of course, he would go on to "L.A. Law" and get
mired in TV-land.
All right, time for Perseus to go solve the
riddle and try to win the hand of Andromeda, as "The Clash of the Titans"
[fading] What would you guys do if you could have the
most beautiful woman in the world, all to yourself, and she was a virgin,
and all you had to do was solve a riddle, BUT, if you didn't solve the
riddle, they would burn you alive? You know what I would be thinking? I
would think, "All right, I'm gonna risk my life, I'm gonna solve the dang
riddle, I'm gonna get the most beautiful girl in the world--and a year
after we get married, she's gonna get pregnant, put on 40 pounds she'll
NEVER get rid of, and start nagging me to slay some dragon so we can move
to a bigger kingdom."
I'm just way too cynical for these movies.
But underneath the cynicism, maybe I'm just a wounded romantic.
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #4
Just when you
think Perseus has got the girl, all HELL breaks loose. The head of the
goddess Maggie Smith falls on the ground and cracks open and speaks.
Perseus has to kill the Kraken. There's something about Stygian
witches. Calibos steals Pegasus. Now these soldier guys are going off on
safari with Harry Hamlin. Oh yeah, there's something I've gotta read you
guys. In the press kit for this movie, the wardrobe people were REAL proud
of all the authentic Grecian costumes they used. But listen to how they
"Thallo and the soldiers wear cheese-cloth
under-tunics and over-tunics of leather sprayed a terracotta color and
hand-studded with bronze. Ammon the poet, who is given to flamboyance in
dress, wears a gilded mask of the Greek muse of tragedy and his cloak is
covered with hieroglyphics copied from the designs on contemporary vases.
All the decoration and detail on the dresses and robes are hand-painted in
All I can say is, I hope they invited Ru Paul to the
set. Okay, back to the movie.
[fading] There's something about a
man in tunic. Um um um.
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #4
witches--led by the great British character actress Freda Jackson. I don't
know what mythology book Beverley Cross was reading when he wrote this
story--he's supposed to be an expert on Greek mythology. But these
witches--this is pretty much straight out of "Macbeth," right? It's just a
way to force Perseus to go fight Medusa. The Kraken, the giant sea
monster, is a Norwegian myth. Calibos, Lord of the Marsh, is something
kinda borrowed from Caliban in "The Tempest." That obnoxious little
mechanical owl, Bubo The Owl of Brass, seems out of place in the film--too
R2-D2 for a flick like this. But it's actually a steal from the book "The
Tin Woodman of Oz," by L. Frank Baum. One of the sequels to The Wizard of
The Vulture -- I think he just made that up. Dioskilos the
Two-Headed Wolf Dog is coming up--I don't think that's from mythology.
There's Cerberus, the THREE-headed dog. They asked Ray Harryhausen why he
didn't use a three-headed dog, and he said it takes too much time to
animate the extra head.
I don't know if he was kidding or not.
Back in the fifties he animated an octopus that only had six legs. And
they asked the producer, Charles H. Schneer, why you would have an octopus
with six tentacles --and he said "Cause Harryhausen charges $10,000 per
tentacle." Anyway, it's a mess, but it's a FUN mess, right? Time for the
Burgess Meredith campfire exposition flashback, in case we all FORGOT the
story of Medusa. Roll it.
[fading] It's all a bait-and-switch,
right? You must KILL the Kraken! But first you must kill the Medusa who is
HARDER to kill than the Kraken! But first you must go to the Stygian
witches and find out how to kill the Medusa! But first you must SOLVE THE
RIDDLE! See, these mythological stories always reveal deep psychological
insights. What were the great writers of mythology trying to tell us here?
Whatever you THINK you have to do to end up in bed with the girl -- there
are a hundred OTHER things you don't know about yet.
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #5
Now that's a
dog-fight. One great sequence after another. That one was the two-headed
wolf dog Dioskilos. And as Harry Hamlin and his cohorts head inside to
fight the Gorgon, we're gonna take just a minute here for our weekly
feature called "Joe Bob's Advice to the Hopeless," in which we listen to
the comments and criticisms of you, the loyal and often DISloyal fans of
"MonsterVision," and to help us out is the TNT Mail Girl, [enters] making
her way out here right now, bearing missives from America. What's
MAIL GIRL: Happy anniversary. [beat] It's been a year since
I've been bringing the mail.
JB: Right, of course. I knew
MG: Open it.
JB: [opens gift] This is beautiful! Thank
MAIL GIRL: You're welcome.
JB: I got you
something, too. I got you . . . this Medusa doll.
MAIL GIRL: Isn't
this part of the set decoration?
JB: It was TEMPORARILY part of the
set decoration. Until I could give it to you. Happy anniversary,
MAIL GIRL: You forgot, didn't you?
JB: What are you
talking about? I didn't forget. [Rusty is silent] Look, just give me a
little advance notice next year. Gimme a little reminder the week before.
Then I'll remember.
[Rusty, sulky, gives him a letter]
now I get the silent treatment.
"Dear Joe Bob Briggs,
August 29, 1998, Dr. Vail Reese was on your show as a guest. I always
watch your show. That night I became very mad at what you said. I am a
57-year old black woman. When you said what black women name their
children, I did not like what you said or how you said it, in any way.
Then you said something about colorless children. Who in the hell do you
think you are? I would like for you to write to me and apologize to me on
"Valrice Bell, Brownsville,
I remember that night.
Dr. Reese was
talking about "alopecia." And I said "What's Alopecia? Sounds like one of
those names for an African-American woman." I don't know what it's like
up there in Pennsylvania, hon, but down in Texas we have a great tradition
of very colorful African-American names. I like to think that EYE have a
colorful name, too. What am I supposed to apologize for, Valrice? I didn't
make fun of the name "Valrice"! I think that Alopecia is a better name
than, say, Clarissa. Also, remember on that same show, Dr. Reese was
talking about albinos, and I said do they have their own NAACP--National
Association for the Advancement of Colorless People? We're just pokin fun
at everybody around here, hon, we don't leave anybody out. Right,
MG: No comment.
JB: Okay, playing it safe. Anyhow,
Valrice, I'm sorry you got mad. Next time you might think about using a
pseudonym, though. And speaking of mad, [to Rusty] you still don't believe
I remembered our anniversary?
MAIL GIRL: No.
JB: Look, I
also got you this Twinkie. As a little anniversary snack.
GIRL: There's a bite out of it!
JB: That's the way it works.
I take a bite, and then you take a bite. It's like sharing a
champagne glass. [tries to hook arms]
MG [exiting]: Just forget
about the whole thing.
JB: Or I take a bite, and then EYE take a
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #6
Perseus slays the
Medusa, in the animated sequence that some people consider Ray
Harryhausen's very best. It's been shown at art museums, it's so complex.
And one of the things that made it complex is that he animated every one
of those TWELVE snakes that make up the upper part of the Gorgon's body.
But we've got giant scorpions and a lot more still to come, so Harry
Hamlin's quest is not over yet. This movie was directed, by the way, by
Desmond Davis, a British guy mostly known for his TV work. And at the time
this movie came out, he'd been away from the big screen for 12 years. He'd
never made anything remotely resembling this movie. In fact, he was known
mostly as a women's director, he did serious dramas like "Girl with the
Green Eyes" and "The Uncle." That's why the acting is a little better in
this picture than the average Ray Harryhausen movie.
Of course, it
also helped that he had FOUR Oscar-winning actors in his cast-- Laurence
Olivier, Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith and Claire Bloom (as Hera).
Anyway, of all the animated movies Ray did, this one has the best
integration of the acting with the monsters.
All right, Perseus
has gotta get back to his BRIDE. Roll it.
[fading] Claire Bloom
came out with that book a few years ago where she talked about how
depressing and dismal and bleak and weird her marriage to Philip Roth was.
Like we all wanna read THAT. She was married to Rod Steiger for ten years.
Then Hilly Elkins for seven years -- Hilly Elkins is a well-known manager
and producer in Hollywood. Philip Roth for four or five years --the
novelist who wrote "Goodbye, Columbus" and "Portnoy's Complaint" and makes
himself the main character of every novel he writes. I mean, Claire, what
were you thinking? He was gonna have a CO-star?
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #7
Well, the cute
little mechanical owl is REALLY startin to get on my nerves. Otherwise,
great movie. The giant scorpions were outstanding. And now, all that's
left, I think, is the final attack of the Kraken. Five years in the
making, 12 years from the time the story was written until it finally hit
the screens in the summer of 1981, "Clash of the Titans" does deliver in
the final reel. Let's watch.
[fading] The critics didn't care much
for it, but the fans love it. I should mention that Neil McCarthy plays
Calibos in the non-animated scenes, and he's normally not NEARLY that
God, he's ugly. Normally you gotta go to the State Fair
Midway and pay two bucks to a guy named Hiram to see something that
"Clash of the Titans" Commercial Break #8
It's a lizard!
It's a whale! It's a three-handed Godzilla! It's a toothy slimy Kraken!
And it's history as "Clash of the Titans" concludes with the wedding of
Perseus and Andromeda, and with Burgess Meredith promising to write a poem
or a play. Doesn't he talk about 16 jillion things he MIGHT write during
the course of that movie?
Great movie. Kinda grows on you. And we
seem to be done.
I wanna remind you that next week on
"MonsterVision" we have two flicks by the great filmmaker Tobe Hooper,
Funhouse, in which a group of horny teenagers get sliced and diced on a
carnival ride, and the always classic Poltergeist, and coming up next on 100% Wierd is Harryhausen's earlier version Jason & The Argonauts with THE best skeleton army ever filmed.
Briggs, reminding you that sex on television can't hurt you, unless you
You guys hear the one about the frog that hops into a
bank, jumps up on the counter and says to the teller, "I want a loan." The
teller says, "You'll have to see the loan officer. Her office is down the
hall and the name on the door is 'Patricia Wack.' Go see her. So the frog
hops off the counter, and down the hall to Mrs. Wack's office. He jumps up
on her desk and says, "I want a loan." Mrs. Wack is puzzled, so she gives
the standard line, "We must have something to secure the loan, some
collateral." The frog pulls out a ceramic lion, puts it on her desk and
repeats that he wants a loan. So Patricia picks up the ceramic lion, goes
in to the bank president's office, puts the ceramic lion on his desk, and
tells him, "I have this frog in my office who says he wants a loan, and
this is what he has to secure it. I don't even know what this thing is."
The bank president looks at the ceramic lion, looks at Mrs. Wack, looks
back at the ceramic lion, and says: "It's a knick-knack, Patty Wack. Give
the frog a loan."
Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in
will never die.
[fading] Mahatma Ghandi walked barefoot everywhere,
to the point that his feet became real thick and hard. He was also a very
spiritual person. Even when he was not on a hunger strike, he did not eat
much and became very thin and frail. Due to his diet, he ended up with
very bad breath. He came to be known as the "Super callused fragile mystic
plagued with halitosis." Super callused fragile mystic plagued with
halitosis [no reaction from crew]. "Release the Kraken!"
Weekly World MonsterVision ... Week of March 22, 1999
Saturday, March 27, Joe Bob's Last Call Clash of the Titans (1981) at 12:45 a.m.
ET/PT High atop Mount Olympus, the Gods toy with the fates of mere
mortals down below. Harry Hamlin, in his first starring role, plays
Perseus, the son of Zeus and the sword-welding hero. Before he can be
united with the fair princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker), he must prove
himself in battle with such formidable creatures as the Medusa, the Kraken
(a scaly monster from the deep sea), and Calibos, the Lord of the Marsh.
The last in a long line of unique stop-motion fantasy features by Ray
Harryhausen. Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Ursula Andress, Burgess
Meredith, and Maggie Smith are just a few of the toga-clad superstars
featured in the cast.
The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964) at 3:35 a.m. ET/PT
It's a musical. No, it's a cartoon. No, it's a World War II
adventure tale. Actually, it's all these things and more. Don Knotts plays
a timid bookkeeper who harbors a secret desire to live underwater...and
gets his wish. Ever seen a dolphin wearing wire-rim glasses? You will in
this oddball fantasy about the Navy's secret weapon. You'll also get to
hear Mr. Knotts sing "I Wish I Were a Fish." Rating: TV-G.
Watch for these great titles on MonsterVision in the upcoming months in 1999:
TNT promo for Harryhausen Night on Monstervision (click 2 or 3 times to play clip)
Fun fact: Ripley's Believe It Or Not reports that an octopus in an aquarium in Blackpool, England, was born with just 6 tentacles, just the right number for Ray Harryhausen!
"Call out the giants and the werewolves and the spirits of those trees who are on our side. Call the ghouls, and the boggles, the ogres, and the minotaurs. Call the cruels, the hags, the spectres, and the people of the toadstools." If you like Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars, check out The Chronicles of Narnia...Aslan is on the move