Maybe it’s the fact that I once fucked a carpet cleaner telemarketing chick who was his doppelganger. Or perhaps it’s the voice like Orson Welles, combined with that unforgettable ginger afro, that does the trick. Even more, it could simply be that he incurred the wrath of Zeus for killing off all the winged horses save Pegasus. Or his obsession with whipping the shit out of, well, everything. Whatever it is, Calibos is the heart, soul, and ravaged-mug center of Clash of the Titans. He’s brutish, deceitful, cruel, and not above sending a giant vulture into a woman’s room to steal her spirit for a night of masturbation. Even after losing a hand to the dreaded Perseus, he dusts himself off and fashions a pitchfork for a new appendage. He’s arguably one of the cinema’s most misunderstood villains, as his punishment – banishment to the marshes and that god-awful skin tone – was hardly deserved for such minor crimes. Zeus, typically self-righteous and sanctimonious despite raping damn near half the lower world’s unsuspecting mortals (usually disguised as an animal, no less) craved vengeance, not justice. Typically, Zeus exempted his own kin, preferring the children of other gods to punish. What is a man cursed to look like a deformed devil to do? And his cry – “Remember me how I was!” – is simply devastating to behold.
The only thing more surprising than America not being taken by storm with a Bobo toy craze in the early 80’s was Harry Hamlin’s insistence on calling the little bugger “Boo-Boo.” All clicks, chirps, burps, and peeps, his disarming means of communication is a curious combination of a cuckoo clock, R2-D2, and a Jethro Tull flute solo. And who could forget Burgess Meredith’s cry as he first entered the scene: “By the gods! An owl!” No ordinary owl, my good man. He not only lights the trail for Perseus and his band of brave souls, he steals the Eye from the Stygian witches, signals oncoming danger, and isn’t so proud that he can’t trip and fall like a reasonable comic sidekick. He’s cute and cuddly to boot, never more so than when he stretches his mechanical limbs after a good night’s sleep.
Yet another poor mortal given the shaft by an unreasonable Zeus, the former beauty was shackled with a serpent tail, rattle, and snake-infested weave after being raped by Poseidon in the Temple of Aphrodite. Even then, so many centuries ago, women were blamed for having the audacity to be on the cock end of a sexual assault. At the very least, she was blessed with incredible bow hunting skills. And that rattle! It’s one of the creepiest memories of my early years, especially when it continues to pierce the silence after her beheading. Murdered by Perseus for no good reason, she gamely defended her turf until being tricked into spilling her bloody cocktail sauce throughout her dimly lit chamber. At least she’s given the last laugh by ending the Kraken’s reign of terror, thereby sticking it to that Poseidon cocksucker.
4. Laurence Olivier
As if the Jazz Singer remake wasn’t enough, the world’s greatest thespian couldn’t resist yet another slumming exercise to rid himself of the demons that forced him into dreck like Hamlet and Othello. Giving Zeus every last ounce of his talent, he ignored the ever-present Pink Floyd light show behind his head and managed to make lines like, “You set him down half-naked in a despairing city?”, ring with eternal truth. Or when punishing Calibos: “He will become abhorrent to human sight!” His gusto seemed a bit forced when he yammered to Perseus on the shield, whispering, “Find, and fulfill your destiny,” as if half-awake and fully stoned. And who else could pull clay statues from a wall and shape their destinies in a scale model of an amphitheater, as if playing with childish army men? Sure, it was just a paycheck and likely something he bitched about in his final days, but he never let on during the film. He’s the legend this masterpiece needed to survive the nitwit who played Andromeda.
5. Harry Hamlin
All lips and cleft chin, his cause is nowhere near as compelling as a half-dozen other characters, but I refuse to be the first and only to refuse those pecs their moment in the sun. Oiled, bronzed, and in possession of the decade’s greatest non-Michael Landon head of hair, Hamlin deserved the stardom that followed, even if no one could remember whether or not the lad could actually act. Still, his character is introduced in one of the cinema’s greatest montages, where he ages a full two decades in a matter of seconds. One minute he’s walking naked with his mother, the next he’s standing atop a majestic steed, furiously leaving behind an indifferent sea. And when he’s not pursing his kisser like the male model he longed to be, he fished, sunbathed, and looked altogether fabulous. We believe Andromeda would crave a peek behind the loincloth, and just as strongly, understand why Calibos would fear him so.
6. The Witches
Who needs Macbeth when you have these three lovely ladies; blind, damn near deaf, and sadistic enough to boil passersby in their cauldron of cruelty. Ah, but they also possess the wisdom of the ages, leading Perseus to Medusa’s island home, as well as giving away the Kraken’s Achilles’ Heel. And the eye! It’s all they really have, and when taken away, it reduces them to a screeching, slobbering mob. “Give us back the eye!” one yelps, as if possessed by the wrath of the very gods who mock her plight. Still, no moment tops the one witch who, when contemplating the battle royale between the Kraken and Medusa’s severed, though still-lethal head, cries, “A titan against a titan!” It’s a unique moment of triumph, and one these isolated, attention-starved women desperately need. They make the most of their brief scene, and who doesn’t want to slap the shit out of Perseus when he tosses back the eye, cruelly shouting, “Here, catch!” It’s the only real reason why we root like hell for the giant scorpions.
7. The Kraken
Few things are as priceless as the sea-swept looks of orgasmic awe on Poseidon’s face when he lets loose the Kraken on Zeus’ orders, but the Kraken’s emergence from the ocean comes pretty damn close. As unjustly murdered as Calibos or Medusa, he’s simply following orders, whether that means coming to steal away the world’s most beautiful woman or flooding a once proud city, killing every last inhabitant, including the wretch who set all this shit in motion to begin with by placing Perseus and his mother in a coffin and setting them upon the waves. And why does that dude remain standing amidst rubble, rising waters, and shifting ground, acting as if he’s Joe Cocker having a stroke? No matter, as the Kraken is the epitome of catastrophic efficiency, rising from his lair for but a single purpose. As it’s less about wrath and savagery than a need to please his master, the Kraken remains a tragic figure, doomed to die for the lust of a slow-witted mortal. The Kraken is all muscle and might, while Perseus needs magic helmets, swords, and shields – as well as the intervention of the gods, no less – to so much as wipe his ass.