Greek Gods Get All the Credit

Release the Kraken!

I’ve always wanted to say that. (Okay, Alex and Maria, you can stop laughing now…)

When I was a kid, the original Clash of the Titans hit theaters. Before Percy Jackson, before Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson, even before good special effects, there came the world’s cheesiest, most awesome, monster movie.

Yeah, I said it: MONSTER movie.

See, the Gods were supposed to be the big deal: Lawrence Olivier as Zeus?! Dame Maggie Smith as Thetis?! Ursula Andress, the quintessential Bond girl, as Aphrodite?!  It’s the 1980s version of Harry Potter in terms of the fine British actors brought on board for a “special effects movie.” Add in Burgess Meredith and a young (smokin’ hot!) Harry Hamlin–yes, I know they aren’t Brits–and this was supposed to be the movie of the decade.

But the Gods, with all their scheming and petty slights, bored this nine-year-old to tears. With the exception of Pegasus (flying horse FTW!), the good guys didn’t interest me a bit.  The metal bird thing? Right out. No, I liked the bad guys. Calibos oozed menace and sported a rockin’ set of horns. The Stygian Witches with their shared eye and caldron full of glop? ::shudder:: Medusa gave me nightmares for weeks, and the Kraken? Well, who wouldn’t love a giant, rubberized lizard rising out of the sea to eat a beautiful virgin?

The producers of Clash of the Titans got that, too. The full cast was broken into three groups: Immortals (Gods and Goddesses), Humans (Perseus, Andromeda and the like), and the Mythologicals (Pegasus, the Kraken and Medusa). The fake characters — the special effects! — got their own credits. The story was thin at best, the actors were a little wooden, but Ray Harryhausen’s creations will fire up any Gen X-er faster than an X-wing’s run against the Death Star.  (Fun aside: The sushi restaurant in Monsters, Inc was named Harryhausen’s. Coincidence? I think not!)

There’s just something about a movie that takes its creatures seriously. It’s the only way to suspend disbelief. Have you seen a film advertised as a special effects triumph, but those same effects get in the way so much that you can’t follow the story because you’re picking apart the “fakeness” of it all? I know I have. The mark of a great creature-feature is one that blends in the effects so well, despite their cheesiness, that you are completely and utterly sucked in.

What movies would you add to the list of must-see creature flicks? What does it take to make you suspend disbelief?

(PS…a new Matt Archershort story released last week. Click on the “excerpts” tab from the home page to read a sample!)