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Film / Clash of the Titans (1981)

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"Destroy Argos! And to make certain no stone stands, that no creature crawls. I command you to let loose the last of the Titans. Let loose the Kraken!" - Zeus

Clash of the Titans is the 1981 film adaptation of the Greek myth of Perseus (played by Harry Hamlin). Its main attraction is an array of Stop Motion animated monsters created by Ray Harryhausen, who retired from filmmaking shortly after it was released. The supporting cast is shored up with an array of name performers, most prominently Laurence Olivier as Zeus.

A demigod son of Zeus (Laurence Olivier), as an infant Perseus is saved from execution (along with his mother Danae (Vida Taylor)) by the cruel King Acrisius of Argos (Donald Houston) thanks to the ruler of Olympus's intervention. Upon reaching maturity, Perseus is set on the path to his destiny when the goddess of the seas, Thetis (Maggie Smith) — bitter over Zeus turning her demigod son Calibos (Neil McCarthy) into a humanoid monster for his crimes — transports him to the city of Joppa, which she has cursed: Anyone who wishes to woo the beautiful Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker), former fiancée of Calibos and daughter of Queen Cassiopeia (Sin Phillips), must answer a riddle that changes with each day lest they be put to death. Perseus, armed with a magical sword and armor, sets out to solve the latest riddle, which requires him to capture and tame the last of the winged horses, Pegasus... but lifting the curse on Joppa turns out to be just the beginning of his adventures, because Calibos and his mother aren't going to give up their quests for vengeance easily...

Stephen R. Wilk wrote in 2000 that "most people today who are aware of the story of Perseus and Medusa owe their knowledge to the 1981 film Clash of the Titans."

For the remake that was released in 2010, see here.

Not to be confused with the works Class of the Titans and Crash of the Titans or the trope Trash of the Titans.

Clash of the Titans provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Perseus's magical sword can slice through marble. It never really needs to, but it does need to quickly behead Medusa, whose scales are as hard as iron.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Hera is definitely not a fan of Zeus' constant womanizing, but even she gets a chuckle out of her husband's failed attempt to seduce Thetis.
    Thetis: So many women, and all these transformations and disguises he invents in order to seduce them. Sometimes a shower of gold, sometimes a bull or a swan. Why, once he even tried to ravish me disguised as a cuttlefish.
    Hera: Did he succeed?
    Thetis: Certainly not.
    Athena: What did you do?
    Thetis: Beat him at his own game. I simply turned myself into a shark.
  • Adaptational Badass: Medusa got taken out while she was asleep in the myth. Here she defends herself against would-be attackers not only with her power, but also with a bow and arrows. And she's a very good shot with it, signaling her presence by killing one of Perseus's soldiers in a sneak attack from a distance.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the myth, Perseus went to get Medusa's head because he made a reckless promise at a party. Here he only goes to get it because it's the one thing that can defeat the Kraken.
  • Adaptational Modesty: In the myth, Andromeda was sent out naked to be eaten by the sea monster. The film's original intention was to follow this, but due to Executive Meddling, she gets some clothes.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the film, King Acrisius threw his daughter and grandson into the sea out of pure spite and outrage Danae had dared to become pregnant. In the original myth, Arcisius was a lot more sympathetic; after being told by an oracle he would be killed by his grandson, Acrisius locked Danae in a tower to try and prevent this: when Zeus impregnated her regardless, Acrisius threw his daughter and her newborn baby into the sea in a locked chest because he felt it was the only way he could save himself from the prophecy without provoking Zeus by killing his offspring, leaving their fate in the hands of Poseidon. Tragically, Acrisius's efforts were in vain; years later, while attending an athletics competition, Acrisius died when Perseus, who was competing, threw a discus that inadvertently struck his grandfather in the crowd.
  • Adapted Out: Perseus' winged sandals are absent with the flying horse Pegasus serving as a replacement.
  • Advertised Extra: Ursula Andress was given top billing, but has only one line in the whole movie — this is a side effect of an alphabetical order listing.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: The goddess Thetis demands the sacrifice of Andromeda after Queen Cassiopeia boasts that she is more beautiful than the goddess.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Andromeda is bathed and dressed up before she's Fed to the Beast.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Andromeda is a Head-Turning Beauty, and she's as innocent as it gets.
  • Big Bad: Thetis pretty much sets up the need for Perseus to set off on a quest to defeat the Kraken.
    Thetis: It is time for chance to intervene. Time you saw something of the world, Perseus. Time you came face to face with fear. Time to know the terrors of the dark and look on death. Time your eyes were opened to grim reality.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Calibos uses Medusa's blood to enlarge a pack of scorpions to attack Perseus.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Oh no! The Kraken is about to eat Andromeda! Perseus and Pegasus (and Bubo) to the rescue!
  • Big Good: Zeus. Like in the myth, he provides Perseus with the weapons needed to fulfill his destiny and restores Perseus's strength to give him a fighting chance against the Kraken. It's also suggested in his final monologue that the real reason for siring Perseus was part of a larger plan to wean humanity off of their dependence on the Gods by providing them with an example of what true heroism was capable of.
  • Blasphemous Praise: Queen Cassiopeia says that her daughter Princess Andromeda is more lovely than the goddess Thetis, and to make things worse, she utters this in Thetis' Temple. Thetis is not pleased by this and orders that Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken. If they don't, the Kraken will destroy Joppa.
  • Bloody Murder: Medusa's blood melts Perseus's shield — and not any ordinary shield, but one given to him by the gods. And as if that wasn't enough, later on drops of her blood enlarge some scorpions.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": Not Pegasus himself, but the Kraken, which bears no resemblance to the mythological kraken more specific than them both being sea monsters and having multiple limbs.
  • Canon Foreigner: Calibos is an original character created specifically for the film, loosely inspired by Phineus.
  • Chained to a Rock: Andromeda is chained to a rock to be sacrificed to the Kraken.
  • Character as Himself: This is how "The Mythologicals" (Pegasus, Medusa, The Kraken, Bubo, and Dioskylos) are billed in the credits.
  • Clockwork Creature: Bubo the clockwork owl, sent by Athena as a guide so she won't have to send her beloved flesh and blood owl, Bubo's namesake.
  • Coins for the Dead: In order to reach Medusa, Perseus must cross the river Styx using the boat of the ferryman, Charon. His friend Thallo gives him a coin that he uses to pay Charon for the journey.
  • Cosmic Chess Game: Perseus and Calibos are both guided by opposing gods, Zeus and Thetis respectively... in a very literal fashion, too! The gods have clay statuettes of their favorites that they move about as they wish in a model amphitheater.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Ammon the playwright is a male example. Although not quite crazy he's still eccentric, and his abode is filled with cats.
  • Cute Owl: Bubo, despite being fully mechanical. He even sounds like Artoo-Detoo.
  • Damsel in Distress: Andromeda chained to a rock for the Kraken, in the climax.
  • Death by Adaptation: Danae is mentioned to have died during the time skip, while saving her from an unwanted marriage was Perseus's motivation for going after Medusa's head in the original myth.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Perseus takes Medusa's head after killing her and gets out of her hideout, then lifts it in the same iconic fashion as many artistic representations of him. Zeus then encourages him to keep fighting and fulfilling his destiny.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: It's the Greek gods, so it's a given:
    • In retaliation for his lover and son being sentenced to death, Zeus orders the death of their attempted killer, King Acrisius of Argos. Fair enough. But then he orders the destruction of all of Argos by the Kraken. Generally averted in the novelization, where Zeus comes off as much less petty in general. In regards to Argos, it's established that the Argosian people already had a long list of offenses against them, and the fact that no one in the whole city lifted a finger to stop a father publically murdering his daughter and her baby was the last straw.
    • Thetis declares that all of Joppa must die in retribution for Calibos's maiming and Cassiopeia's insult.
    • Medusa had an affair with Poseidon, an act which angered Aphrodite. Aphrodite blamed Medusa even though it was Poseidon who seduced her.
  • Divine Assistance: Zeus interferes repeatedly to help his son Perseus and punish those who oppose him. He also has other deities give him divine gifts, including a shield, a sword, and a helmet that grants the power of invisibility. The goddess Thetis likewise tries to help her son Calibos but it doesn't turn out very well.
  • Divine Punishment:
    • King Acrisius of the city of Argos tries to kill his daughter Danaë and her baby son (who was sired by the god Zeus) by having them put to sea in a wooden chest. Zeus punishes Acrisius by killing him and having Argos destroyed by the Kraken.
    • Calibos, the son of the goddess Thetis, killed all of the god Zeus's herd of flying horses except Pegasus. In punishment, Zeus changes him into a warped, ugly humanoid monster who is forced to live in a swamp.
    • Queen Cassiopeia of Joppa, Andromeda's mother, says that her daughter is more beautiful than the goddess Thetis. Thetis punishes her by ordering that Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken. If not, the city of Joppa will be destroyed.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Andromeda dramatically takes off the jeweled necklace Calibos offered her, after her visitation in spirit to his lair.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • All the soldiers escorting Perseus on his mission to the Stygian Witches and Medusa end up dead.
    • Perseus also has a dwindling inventory. He loses his helmet during his first fight with Calibos, and has to sacrifice his shield to defeat Medusa. His sword is left behind after his final fight with Calibos, but at that point he has to fight the Kraken, against which a sword wouldn't do much good anyway.
  • Engagement Challenge: Part of the curse placed on Joppa by Calibos requires any potential suitor to Andromeda solve a riddle; failing to answer correctly meant death by fire. Unfortunately, the incredibly hard-to-answer riddle is chosen by Calibos himself and changes each time. Perseus not only answers correctly after learning the current one, he fights and grievously wounds the villain, sparing him only when he lifts the curse.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Thetis calls out Calibos' Sore Loser behavior, pointing out that he's asking for revenge, not justice.
  • Evil Poacher: Not the biggest reason Calibos was cursed, but likely what crossed the line in Zeus's eyes; after being given the Wells of the Moon to rule by his mother, he overhunted it, and as the final straw, killed all of Zeus's sacred flying horses, the one survivor being Pegasus.
  • Evil Slinks: Medusa, snake woman with an attitude.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
    • Though he only has about ten lines at the most, Calibos speaks in an anguished baritone that sells him as a Tragic Monster.
    • Thetis adopts a metallic-tinged contralto when she is speaking through her marble statue.
  • Exact Words: This exchange between Perseus and Ammon:
    Perseus: There must be a way to kill the Kraken
    Ammon: No. No way known to man.
    Perseus: You claim to be an optimist?
    Ammon: Yes I am. I believe that man can overcome most obstacles.
    Perseus: I've had enough of your philosophy. It's time for action, not words!
    Ammon: Now wait one moment. I said there was no way known to man. There might be a way known to woman.
  • Expy:
  • Eyeless Face: The three Stygian Witches (i.e. Graeae) have no eye sockets, but they trade a single crystalline "eye" between them. Perseus steals it to get information from them.
  • The Eyes Have It: The statue of Thetis when she's about to throw down.
  • Eye Spy: The Stygian Witches have to share a single (magical) eye between the three of them. The witch who has it is apparently quite capable of seeing through while it's sitting in her hand.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink:
    • The Kraken is from Norse Mythology. The original creature was Cetus, a giant whale, but it was apparently switched because the writer thought "kraken" sounded cooler. Ray Harryhausen changed the look from a giant squid or octopus to a four-armed humanoid because he thought it looked cooler.
    • Calibos is an expy of Caliban from The Tempest, who has nothing to do with Greek mythology at all.
    • Bubo's design is more evocative of Steampunk than Greek mythology.
  • Fed to the Beast: Jealous of Andromeda's beauty, Thetis demands her to be sacrificed to the Kraken, else Joppa will be destroyed. Perseus goes on quest to defeat the Kraken to prevent this from occuring.
  • The Ferryman: Charon, the ferryman on the River Styx, who transports Perseus and his team part of the way to Medusa's lair.
  • Fertile Blood: When Calibos sticks his trident into Medusa's head, which Perseus has hung on a branch while resting, giant scorpions are created from the blood as it drips on the ground, which proceed to attack Perseus and his men, killing many of them.
  • Forced Transformation: Calibos is turned into a beastman by Zeus as a punishment.
  • Genre Savvy: Ammon, due to being a poet and playwright of stories very much like Perseus's and dealing with some of the same characters, including Medusa.
  • Giant Flyer: Calibos' pet vulture. Mr. Harryhausen dug his giant flying beasties.
  • Give Me a Sword: One of Perseus's friends tosses him his sword so he can fight off a giant scorpion.
  • Go for the Eye: Perseus says this exact phrase when he orders Bubo to steal the Stygian Witches' crystal eyeball.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Invoked during Zeus' final speech. While Hera is concerned that mankind will forget them, Zeus isn't bothered by it.
    Zeus: Even if we, the gods, are abandoned or forgotten, the stars will never fade. Never. They will burn till the end of the time.
  • Grandpa God: Zeus with his white robe and gray beard
  • The Grim Reaper: The Ferryman Charon isn't depicted as an old man as in the original myths, but as a black-robe-clad skeleton.
  • Guile Hero: Perseus, when fighting Medusa. His two companions are dispatched quickly, and Perseus realizes they underestimated her badly, and he's in way over his head. He starts fighting dirty, knocking out torches to make it harder to see, making feints, using his shield as a mirror to trick Medusa, then finally lying in wait, listening for when she'll be close enough for him to strike.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Perseus, as a demigod, fits this trope.
  • Hand Signals: Perseus uses a "stop" signal to halt the travelers just before they meet Bubo, and also gestures to the soldiers with him as they approach Medusa's lair.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Andromeda is incredibly beautiful, so much so that her mother Cassiopeia claims she's even more beautiful than their patron goddess Thetis. Unfortunately, Thetis uses this opportunity to punish Andromeda for this "blasphemy" against her, and sentences Andromeda to be a Human Sacrifice.
  • Hellhound: Dioskylos, the two-headed wolf who guards Medusa's chambers.
  • Henotheistic Society: Zeus says that Thetis is the patron goddess of the city of Joppa.
  • Hollywood Torches: In Calibos's encampment and in Medusa's lair.
  • Hook Hand: After Perseus cuts off Calibos's left hand, it is replaced by a short trident.
  • If I Can't Have You:
    Thetis: If my son is not to marry her, then no man will... As my Calibos suffers, so will Andromeda.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Bubo, the mechanical owl. What sounds like clicks and whistles to everyone else is perfectly understandable by Perseus. Justified by the fact that it is a gift to him from the goddess Athena.
  • Introdump: The movie has Zeus address all the gods by their name and what they are god of, just so the audience won't be confused.
  • I Should Write a Book About This:
    Ammon: This would make a fine heroic poem you know. Or perhaps a play...
  • Jerkass Gods: Played with mainly with Zeus and Thetis. Both tend to be very protective of their children and fond of disproportionate retribution. Zeus at least only acts when someone has committed an injustice, is letting Perseus's defiance slide, and appears to be willing to allow the gods one day to be forgotten. The rest of the gods come off as indifferent rather than malicious.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: A Kraken is summoned to destroy the city.
    Zeus: Destroy Argos! And to make certain no stone stands - that no creature crawls - I command you to let loose the last of the Titans. Let loose the Kraken!
  • Large Ham: Burgess Meredith is clearly having a blast as Ammon. Justified in that the man is a playwright and actor (at a time where all acting was done live in an actual theater, and basically required at least some overacting) and even admits to Perseus he likes to act up being a ghost to keep looters from the theater.
  • Last of His Kind: Pegasus is the only flying horse left after his species was over-hunted by Calibos.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Bubo will unquestioningly fly into battle when called upon and apparently can be quite fearsome, frightening off the much larger and ostensibly scarier-looking giant vulture at one point.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • When Calibos begs mother Thetis to punish Perseus, Thetis says she can't do anything because of Zeus's command. However, when Cassiopeia calls Andromeda more beautiful than the goddess, Thetis is able to use this open blasphemy as the excuse to condemn Andromeda after all to strike Perseus.
    • When his mother says Perseus is untouchable because he is Zeus' son, Calibos suggests Thetis instead "punish those Perseus loves", who just happen to include Queen Cassiopeia, the people of Joppa, and Andromeda, Calibos' ex-lover.
      Calibos: Persuade your devoted Lord Poseidon to let loose the Kraken on the city, and let the Kraken destroy Joppa as it destroyed Argos. I DEMAND JUSTICE!
    • Zeus "requests" Athena give Perseus her beloved owl Bubo. Leave it to the Goddess of Wisdom to figure out how to circumvent the order without breaking it by having Hephaestus create a mechanical duplicate. After all, Zeus never specified it had to be the live Bubo given to Perseus.
  • Love at First Sight:
    Perseus: Just believe me when I say I that I did see you. And the sight of you burst straight through me like an arrow.... From that moment, I knew that I loved you.
  • Love-Obstructing Parents: The film's explanation for why Acrisius "grew jealous and kept (Danae) guarded from the eyes of men, locked behind iron doors" (in the original myth, this was partly due to a prophecy that his grandson would kill him, but You Can't Fight Fate).
  • Magi Babble:
    Stygian Witch: [Medusa's blood] is deadly and poisonous. But you have touched the eye. Just as it has the power to give us sight, so it can make your cloak — your red cloak — proof against the blood.
  • Mama Bear: Thetis curses Joppa for what happened to Calibos, then orders Andromeda's sacrifice out of revenge for him being mutilated (partially), and for Cassiopeia boasting of her daughter's beauty in Thetis's temple.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The city people in the temple when Thetis declares the Kraken will destroy them all if they don't sacrifice Andromeda.
  • Mauve Shirt: Thallo. He fights and kills a giant scorpion without help. But then, Calibos deals with him.
  • Meaningful Name: Bubo the Owl.
  • Mechanical Animals: Bubo, a mechanical owl sent to aid Perseus on his quest by the Gods Of Olympius.
  • Medusa: The mythological gorgon is depicted here as having the lower body of a giant rattlesnake.
  • Misplaced Retribution: After Cassiopeia insults her in her own temple, Thetis demands Andromeda's life as retribution.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The snake that shows up is a boa constrictor. Boa constrictors live in the Americas — they would have definitely not been found in Ancient Greece. Medusa's rattling tail could be considered a deity-invoked Mix-and-Match Critters example, as rattlesnakes are likewise New World reptiles.
  • Mr. Exposition: Thallo, the World's Most Helpful Guard. Perseus, a complete stranger, walks up to him, and he manages to go from surly hostility to explaining the complete social and political history of Joppa in under a minute. While swatting flies.
    • Ammon, certainly. 98% of what he says is an explanation. He not only drops knowledge about characters and histories specific to this film, but also serves as a living "Cliff Notes" to classic Greek Mythology on the whole. Justified in that he's a poet and playwright.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Baby Perseus, being an illegitimate demigod, is locked into a coffin with his young mother and thrown into the sea, but Zeus has Poseidon make certain the waters will gently take Perseus and his mother to safety. Perseus is then raised on an island paradise.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Kraken has four arms. The goddess Thetis says that it's capable of destroying the entire city of Joppa and all of its inhabitants.
    • At the beginning of the movie, the Kraken utterly annihilates Argos (said to be the capital of a huge empire) within three minutes of screentime.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Averted. Danae and Andromeda show some T&A even though the film is rated PG!note note 
  • No Eye in Magic: Medusa must make eye contact to be able to turn people into stone.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The title would seem to have you believe that at least two titans will clash at some point in the film. No actual Titans from Greek mythology show up. The Kraken is, at one point, called "the last of the Titans", which would seem to preclude it from clashing with any others. They might has well have left that line out and just tried to play off that "Titan" is supposed to mean "monster". The closest thing we get is when one of the Stygian Witches refers to Perseus using Medusa to defeat the Kraken as "A Titan against a Titan!"
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The lead-up to the fight with Medusa is slow, quiet, and very unnerving. We only get glimpses of Medusa's shadow on the walls and columns, giving the audience a hint that she is not the humanoid Gorgon of traditional mythology. It is only after she easily kills one of Our Heroes that Medusa reveals herself (and she's worse than we imagined).
  • Novelization: A very nicely done one by Alan Dean Foster, which does a fair job of reconciling the plot to traditional Greek mythology.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • King Acrisius tries to off Perseus as a child, which would actually be Offing the Offspring's Offspring.
    • Queen Cassiopeia must sacrifice her virgin daughter Andromeda because she pissed off Thetis. In her own temple.
  • Offstage Villainy: Calibos's crimes that were the cause of his Painful Transformation are only described but not shown.
  • Oh, Crap!: Cassiopeia, upon realizing her insult has doomed her daughter and/or her city to the wrath of an angry goddess.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Ammon's Catchphrase is, "By the gods!"
  • Organic Bra: Medusa's entire upper torso is covered with small scales.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Athena gives Perseus Bubo, a clockwork duplicate of her own owl companion built by Hephaestus, which becomes Perseus's guide.
  • Papa Wolf: Zeus destroys Argos out of retribution for his lover and son's banishment.
  • Pegasus: The film takes the "whole species of winged horses" route, although Pegasus himself is the only one who appears, Calibos having killed all the others.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Calibos uses his trident Hook Hand to pierce the bag containing Medusa's head, coating it with her poisonous blood in the process. He later stabs Thallo in the back with it, and the Mauve Shirt dies pretty quickly.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: The Stygian Witches say that Medusa's blood is a deadly poison, and after Perseus cuts off her head her blood spews out and melts Perseus' shield, which was a gift from the gods.
  • Prequel: To Ray Harryhausen's previous film Jason and the Argonauts. Both stories being based off of Classical Mythology, Perseus is the great-grandfather of Hercules, it's all there.
  • Reality Changing Miniature: There is a small chamber in Olympus containing several clay figurines, each one representing a real person. The gods can resculpt the model to invoke a Painful Transformation, or just smash the thing to kill the person outright. Zeus even at one point sets Perseus's model back upright after he collapses from exhaustion, implicitly giving him a Heroic Second Wind..
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Dioskylos (clearly inspired by Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of the Grecian Underworld) has only two heads rather than three, because it would have taken Ray Harryhausen too much work to animate a third.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: The Kraken is gigantic.
  • Reused Character Design: The Kraken looks a lot like the Ymir from a previous film of Ray Harryhausen, 20 Million Miles to Earth, just way bigger and with four arms.
  • Robot Buddy: Bubo the clockwork owl, to Perseus. It helps him a great deal during his journey.
  • Rule of Cool: After being turned into stone, the Kraken breaks into pieces for no reason but thisnote .
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • The Kraken is from Norse Mythology and was never suggested to be humanoid (it's closer to a Giant Squid). The original monster slain by Perseus from Greek mythology was Cetus.
    • Contrary to the reference by one of the Stygian witches, Medusa and the Kraken were not Titans. The Titans were Elder Gods, who were overthrown by a race of younger gods, their descendants, a.k.a., the Olympians.
    • Amphitrite is the wife of Poseidon in Greek mythology, while Thetis is generally a sea nymph. Some suggest that she was a full goddess, as portrayed in the film, but even then she was certainly not among the central circle who dwelt on Olympus.
    • Aphrodite is the one who cursed Medusa, in the myths it was Athena.
    • The original myth has Perseus seeking Medusa's head for reasons completely unrelated to Andromeda's plight. In the original myth, Polydectes, king of Seriphus (the island where Danae and Perseus landed), lusted after Danae, and compelled the young adult Perseus to obtain Medusa's head to get him out of the way. Perseus saves Andromeda because he happened to be flying home (on Hermes's winged sandals) and came across this poor Virgin Sacrifice strapped to a rock.
    • There was only one Pegasus, not a herd, who sprang forth from Medusa's neck after she was killed. (Indeed, "Pegasus" actually means "he who sprang".) Pegasus was also not ridden by Perseus, but his paternal cousin (in some sources) Bellerophon.
    • Orthrus (renamed Dioskylos in this film) was the guardian of Medusa's grandson Geryon, rather than Medusa herself. He was slain by Hercules, not Perseus.
  • Sandal Punk: The film is set in a version of Ancient Greece where fantasy monsters (and robots) are real.
  • Scary Scorpions: The giant scorpions that Calibos creates by causing Medusa's blood to drop on some normal scorpions.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Perseus initially meets Ammon while the playwright is dressed up in a creepy mask and robe. He claims to use the get-up to scare trespassers away from the amphitheater.
  • Screaming Woman: Completely averted. Andromeda may be the damsel in distress, but she faces both Calibos and the Kraken itself with stoic indignation, and tries her best to keep up with Perseus when he goes off on his quest to save her (until he leaves her behind, very much against her wishes, when he learns he's going to have to face Medusa). She is a brave person and definitely not a screamer.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: When Andromeda is finishing her bath, there's a shot of her stepping out of the water, with her Toplessness from the Back facing the camera.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Calibos's transformation from man to monster. Necessary in that such effects were otherwise impossible to render cheaply in 1981.
  • Shout-Out: The Kraken bears a strong resemblance to Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth, also animated by Ray Harryhausen.
  • Snake People: This version of Medusa is much more snake-like than in myths, with her skin being scaly and her lower-half being that of rattlesnake. She resembles a Lamia more than the Gorgeous Gorgon she is in the myths.
  • Sneaky Departure: While on the journey to Medusa's island, Perseus and his soldiers take off in the middle of the night, leaving Andromeda behind (and Ammon to look after her).
  • Standard Hero Reward: Perseus wins the right to Andromeda's hand twice; first by solving her riddle and freeing Joppa from Calibos's curse (even thought the second part wasn't necessary) and second by saving her from the Kraken later (the part loosely adapted from actual mythology).
  • Stay in the Kitchen: "Too perilous (a journey) for a princess." To which Andromeda responds with all due spunk, "You are not my lord and husband. Not yet!" and comes along on the trip to the Stygian Witches anyway. Perseus later does ditch her for her own safety when he finds out he has to fight Medusa.
  • Stellification: The movie ends with Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus and other characters becoming constellations.
  • Stop Motion: Stop-motion animation was used for the monsters, courtesy of the late, great Ray Harryhausen.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Perseus loses his helmet of invisibility about a third of the way through the film, seemingly to keep from breaking the narrative with something so powerful.
  • Taken for Granite: All of Medusa's past victims that are exhibited in her temple, one of Perseus' soldiers and the Kraken.
  • Team Pet: Bubo the robot owl regularly acts goofy, including flying into things and making crash-landings. However, it also leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches, grabs the Witches' Eye for him, single-handedly frees Pegasus from captivity in Calibos's camp, distracts the Kraken long enough for Perseus to arrive, and carries the bag containing Medusa's head to Perseus, allowing him to petrify the Kraken and save the day.
  • This Way to Certain Death: The statues outside Medusa's lair.
  • Throne Made of X: Calibos has a throne made of bones in his encampment.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: How Perseus finishes off Calibos, since it's hard to get close as the latter wields a whip.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In a scene before Princess Andromeda is led out to be sacrificed to the Kraken, she is shown getting out of a large bath while completely nude from the back.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Calibos, based on Caliban from The Tempest, and the Stygian Witches, based on the Weird Sisters from Macbeth.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Cassiopeia declares her daughter Andromeda to be "more beautiful than the goddess Thetis herself!" This she does while standing in Thetis' own temple, directly beneath a giant statue of Thetis. Needless to say, it does not go well for anyone. Even the film itself lampshades how ridiculously stupid this gaffe is.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Perseus's journey back to Joppa on Pegasus as Andromeda's sacrifice is being carried out. Justified by the fact its a winged horse, that would cover the terrain more quickly than on foot.
  • The Unintelligible: Bubo, except to Perseus. Ammon eventually figures out what he's saying.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: After Perseus rescues Joppa from the curse and wins Andromeda's hand in marriage, Thetis demands Andromeda's sacrifice as an alternative restitution, and specifies she must be "unknown to man, a virgin" — not for any mystical reason but just to spite Perseus and make sure he doesn't get any of what Calibos had once hoped to get.
  • Waist-Deep Ocean: This is initially averted, as the Kraken is shown propping itself up on rocks with one set of arms to keep its upper body above the surface of the ocean. After it's petrified and its arms break off, however, this is played straight as its body crumbles to pieces instead of sinking.
  • Was Once a Man:
    • Calibos was once a handsome young demigod until he hunted Pegasus' species to near extinction (among other offenses). As punishment, Zeus turned him into a ferocious man-beast.
    • Medusa could be an even more tragic example. The way Ammon tells it, she was a humble young princess who caught the eye of Poseidon, and they had a tryst in Aphrodite's temple. Aphrodite was outraged by the affair, and punished Medusa by turning her into a Gorgon.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: Medusa's temple, albeit stone instead of wax.
  • Weapon Specialization: Calibos's favorite weapon is a whip, and he's very handy with it, capturing Pegasus and nearly strangling Perseus.
  • Wedding Smashers: During Perseus and Andromeda's wedding, Thetis stops the ceremony by causing an earthquake and giving an ultimatum about the Kraken's attack.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There are three giant scorpions, but only two are killed...
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Calibos can be perceived as sympathetic and at least worthy of pity, especially because we are only informed of his cruelty before the transformation. Indeed, Perseus says that's why he spared his life, in spite of all he had put Andromeda and the city through. But Calibos comes back on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge anyway.
  • The X of Y: Clash of the Titans.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Perseus frees the city of Joppa from its curse fairly early in the film, and the good guys throw a big party — only for a much worse crisis to then present itself before they're even through celebrating.