Clash of the Titans (1981)
Why I Love This Scene: Sure, I loved Star Wars with a passion but Clash of the Titans always holds a special place in my heart. Still one of my favorites in the fantasy genre, it far surpasses most fantasy and sci-fi films of today with its epic story, romance, as well as the best part—the creatures. Calibos, the giant scorpions and vultures, THE KRAKEN and my personal favorite, Medusa! All brought to awesome life by the genius Ray Harryhausen.
The one thing I will express that is odd to me now is that when I was younger I thought this was history or at least historical as much as Bible stories are. While I knew the Star Wars saga and E.T. were Hollywood creations, for some reason, this story of Perseus’ adventures to save Andromeda had more “weight” to it. In other words, my folks or other people knew the characters before the film was made and in explaining the finer parts to me (I was probably 4 at the time) made it seem like this was an historical event 1,000 years ago or something. While a character like Luke Skywalker was brand new to everyone at the time. Strange but thats how awesome the movie and story are to me.
Anyway, back to the scene at hand. This is hands-down the best scene in the film and rivals most battle scenes in movie history. I shouldn’t even bother mentioning the horribly misfired remake but you can’t even compare the two Medusa confrontation scenes. Harryhausen’s is slow building, tense and down-right frightening. She picks off 2 of Perseus’ men within minutes with her skills with the bow and arrow as well her awesome sight-to-stone power. The close-up of her bright green eyes beckon a hapless warrior to gaze at them while he quickly petrifies within seconds. Then, more tension as she slowly hunts down Perseus, who is cunningly hiding, using reflections to guide him to victory as he severs her snake-coiffed noggin from her shoulders. The music and the sound effects of her rattle-snake tail are integral to this scene’s brilliance. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention again how well Medusa is animated by genius Harryhausen. She’s all clay and wires, moved by hand, frame by frame. NO CGI and she looks 10 times better than her remake counterpart done with computer pixels. Sure, sometimes it looks cheesy to us now but that just adds to its charm. In the 1981 version, you “feel” the weight of her head as its lopped off. Her scream still sends chills down my spine. I can watch this scene over and over again.