Archive for Clash of the Titans

The Sunday Intertitle: Death Match 1,000,000 BC

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , , on May 12, 2019 by dcairns

Hilariously delicate design for this intertitle from the Super-8 release of DINOSAURUS, a title I always pronounce to rhyme with “rhinoceros.” Try it, it’ll make you smile!

Why do I own a video copy of the Super-8 version of DINOSAURUS (remember, emphasis on the NOS)? Or any version at all? I don’t know. Why does a T-Rex have such tiny arms?

I have mixed feelings about this movie’s mixed-up special effects. It alternates between stop-motion animation and puppetry. This makes a kind of sense, arguably, with the two techniques being used whenever one or the other is easier or cheaper or more effective. You can rig a glove puppet or rod puppet to drool, for instance, whereas animating the lizard spittle would be a long and thankless task (well, *I’d* thank you, but you probably didn’t get into this business for my gratitude alone). Even the great Ray Harryhausen did a version of this alternation, in CLASH OF THE TITANS, where the character of Calibos is played by Neil McCarthy in close-up, because actors are better at face acting, and by an animated figurine in wide shot, because those guys are way better at having goat legs. (Goat legs and Frank Tuttle are the unconscious theme of the blog this week –see how many occurrences YOU can spot).

CLASH OF THE TITANS is very much like THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE, only with hircine extremities.

But switching FX techniques in mid-roar can be distracting. If the object of the exercise is to fool us (“Trick photography” was my parent’s set answer for any whiny Land of the Giants-inspired “How did they do that?” inquisitions) then we’re not fooled anyway. If the object is to be artistic, animation is the way to go. Puppetry, of course, can be a wonderful art, but I can’t think of many monsters done that way who didn’t feel tacky compared to the magestic creatures (not monsters, mustn’t call them that) of Ray H.

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The Monday Intertitle: The Greeks Have an Intertitle for It

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2014 by dcairns

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HELENA is a silent German two-part epic based on Greek mythology, directed by Manfred Noa and released, unfortunately, the same year as Lang’s DIE NIBELUNGEN. The public stayed away in droves every bit as big as those the filmmaker mustered to represent the fall of Troy. It’s as if a critic wrote, “If you only see one two-part mythological epic this year, make it Lang’s DIE NIBELUNGEN,” and the public decided to take that as an instruction.

A shame, for though Lang’s film deserves its place in history (or another, better place in history — not as a Nazi favourite but as a prophecy of the destruction wrought by war and hatred), Noa’s film is visually splendid and dramatically quite pleasing, though I would slightly fault his taste in casting the authoritative but not particularly ravishing Edy Darclea as Helen of Troy. But what are you gonna do? One man’s face that launched a thousand ships is another man’s limpet-studded wharf. Not that Edy D is a limpet-studded wharf. She’s fine, she’s just not sensational. She’s no Edie Sedgwick.

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Through a glass Darclea.

Unlike in that Wolfgang Petersen foolishness, the Germans aren’t afraid to bring the gods of Olympus onscreen, which is just as well, for they have a crucial role to play in Homer’s scenario. But we’re not treated to Olivier and Andress and Maggie Smith or their Teuton equivalents wafting about amid dry ice and columns, which might get kitsch. The divine figures appear only in visions witnessed by the mortals, which allows for plenty of stylisation and guards against FANTASIA syndrome. It’s a brilliant solution, and one that should be revived the very next time somebody does something mythic with gods in.

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 Filmed in the splendour of dactylic hexameter!

The only star name I recognize is Albert Basserman, who turned up in THE RED SHOES decades later. Maybe it’s the lack of star power that scuppered Noa’s bold enterprise. The film was rediscovered after many years considered lost, and deserves to be properly available. Check out Kristin Thompson’s ten best of 1923 (it’s my annual favourite blog event) and note just how few truly major silent dramas are available to buy in decent condition.

What else do we need? Oh yes, the promised intertitle, bilingual and wreathed in laurel leaves. Enjoy!

vlcsnap-2014-01-04-02h23m22s25STOP PRESS: Fiona: “What does that mean? You don’t tell us.”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Fiona: “Then you shouldn’t have posted it.”

STOP STOP PRESS: according to Google Translate the French means “You have the power to ward off the dark future. Tell me if I must leave for Cythera.” But it says the German means “Yours is the power to summon the dark future. Customer to me whether I should follow the call to Cythera.”

 

The Top Ten Sexy Ray Harryhausen Monsters

Posted in FILM, Mythology, Science with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by dcairns

The author contemplates his task.

This was a hard list to make! But a necessary one. So much competition! The anatomical perfection of the skeleton army from THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD… the muscular sheen of Minoton from SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER… not to mention the dazzling intellect and warm personal manner of the Grand Lunar in FIRST MEN IN THE MOON. Finally, the only characters who could be definitely excluded from the running were the giant squirrel in THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER and Bubo the aluminium owl.

10) It, from IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA.

Tentacles… tentacles are sexy, right?

9) Cyclops from THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD

Maybe the one guy I’d go queer for. Spectacular upper body definition. As for the lower body… well, it’s a look, I suppose. Just imagine he’s wearing cowboy chaps.

8) Serpent Woman from THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD

Slinky. I love a woman with vertebrae instead of femurs. Picture the possibilities! Even if her face does put one in mind of Corporal Klinger from TV’s M*A*S*H. That’s why veils were invented.

7) Talos from JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

The Greeks have a word for it,  and the word is “ah-woo-wa-woo-wa-wowa!”

6) Homonicus from THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD

There’s a clue in the name.

5) Figurehead from THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD

A woman with perpetually hard nipples. Because they’re made of wood. Splinters aside, that still seems more organic than silicone.

4) Kali from THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD

Six arms to hold you! Body of Jacqueline Bisset! Legs of Janeane Garofalo! Arms of Jacqueline Bisset AND Janeane Garofalo!

3) Troglodyte from SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER

Kinda cute, if you like Iggy Pop.

2) Medusa from CLASH OF THE TITANS

Maybe CLASH OF THE TITANS was Ray’s male menopause movie? We get an unconvincing body double nude scene for Judy Bowker, Theseus’s mom breast-feeding him, and then this. All this nudity was a new thing for Harryhausen movies, and seems sort of unsuited to the kid audience… Still, Medusa may be lethal and reptilian, but damn she’s pert.

1) Mighty Joe Young from MIGHTY JOE YOUNG

Ah, ya big ape! Who among is can resist the might and musk of the giant gorilla? And since his “gorillahood” is pretty tiny, proportionate to the rest of his physique, you can be confident he won’t be too “boku”. At the end of the day, it’s his winning personality that counts.

Honorary mention: Kate Calendar’s skeleton from FIRST MEN IN THE MOON. Full-frontal x-ray nudity! Who wouldn’t want to jump on those bones?

You’ll note that I avoid speculating on which of the stop-motion figurines would make the best sex-toy (the Kraken, obviously — just add batteries and he’s a reptilian rampant rabbit), and I refuse to suggest titles for porno versions (JASON AND THE ORGYNAUTS, 20 MILLION MALES TO EARTH, IT CAME BENEATH THE SEA, that’s the kind of thing you just won’t find here). Still, I feel I’ve plumbed some kind of new low here. Tomorrow I attempt to claw back some kind of respect and innocence as I write up the incredible evening we had in London at the celebration of Mr. H’s 90th birthday.