Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Monstrous movies

I saw the first Clash of the Titans in 1981. The occasion was something of a gag, because one of my co-workers worshipped Olivier and could not imagine that he would appear in anything one would call that much of a turkey.

So much for that premise. We went, we roared with laughter at the unintentional humour, and our Olivier worshiper crawled under her seat and whimpered for much of the film.

Don't count me as one of the uncritical fans of Ray Harryhausen's special effects, at least where this film is concerned. Keep the dates in mind. By 1981 the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back had both appeared and made their game-changing contributions to special effects. Harryhausen's stop-action effects were 20 years out of date. One might have forgiven this if they had not been wedded to a wooden script, or if the cast had not tried to play this in such earnest. The slightest hint of wink-nudge would have lightened the whole thing, and I don't think the original merits even its modest camp following.

Possibly the most preposterous creature in Harryhausen's bestiary is his rendition of the "kraken." One's first question is "why?" The kraken comes to us from Scandinavian folklore, not Greek mythology. Greek mythology has more than enough monsters of its own, human and otherwise. Only lack of imagination could have brought a northern sea monster out of the mists, down to the Aegean, and dressed it in what looks like the Thing's leftover costume for Harryhausen's 1981 effort. Going by the trailers, it seems that the current kraken, if an unoriginal concept, is at least an original monster. There are already a few very simple people on the interweb who are ready to believe that because a man in a rubber suit appeared in a 1981 bomb, the kraken really is a creature from Greek mythology. Again, life imitates art, even when it's bad art.

Thanks, but I'll stick to How to Train Your Dragon. It doesn't labour under the pretense of having anything to do with ancient mythology, Greek or otherwise. It's just a fun ride for grownup kids.

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