Scene 22: The following night/week/whenever, presumably another guy has met his doom because Andromeda is again summoned for a new riddle.
This time though, Perseus and Pegasus are ready to follow her into the depths of the swamps. Swamps that seems to be half a world away, judging by the distances being covered! [In fact, it looks briefly like they may have flown into the Everglades.]
In the dark, dank swamp, Andromeda leaves her gilded conveyance to meet with her ex-fiancé and we see what Zeus’ wrath has wrought upon Prince Calibos.
He begs Andromeda to remember how he was before his curse, which she does. But now he’s, y’know, fugly. He demands that she learn a new riddle since she won’t come back to him. Through tears, she begs there be no more bonfires but he is unmoved.
[You do almost feel sorry for Calibos, but mostly because you also know Zeus is just a prick in general. But then… well… if you’re going to hunt down Zeus’ own creations to near extinction, then you’d have to be a pretty huge idiot to think there wouldn’t be a comeuppance, even if your mother is Thetis.]
She is forced to gaze upon the answer to the riddle, which is on parchment and then it is burned while she’s commanded to “mark and remember”. She then sits placidly, if teary, in the consort seat at Calibos’ side.
He runs his clawed hand down her arm, and has a pervy mo’ as he commands her to remember his riddle the next time a suitor presents himself. She implores him to release both Joppa and her soul from his curse. She calls for pity and mercy, and places her hand on his face. But though he clearly is affected by her, his need to punish everybody else for his ostracism is greater than any affection for her and his need to possess her is more important than her happiness. She’s denied.
Commentary: Neil McCarthy was a great actor, and he really embraces this role. He’s absolutely wonderful using his eyes to express Calibos’ pain, longing and cold rage from behind the heavy prosthetics used on his face. I love this scene fully because his performance is mesmerizing and engrossing. Alas, he died very shortly after completion of this film and ‘Time Bandits’ of ALS complications. Which made me very sad, and now I wish I hadn’t read his wiki page. Damn it.
Scene 23: But as Andromeda is sent away back to her conveyance, Calibos spots the foot prints of the invisible Perseus. He sneers in outrage at the invisible person who has dared to trespass.
Scene 24: Deeper in the swamps, Perseus has had to remove the protection of his invisibility in order to whisper-call for Pegasus, who appears to have taken the opportunity to ditch his captor.
From the periphery, where we know that MovieVerse People cannot see, Calibos’ hand reaches out and grabs him by the throat. During the ensuing wrestling match, for Calibos didn’t bring a simple dagger to end this right quick, our hero manages to lose his helm in the swamps.
As Calibos beats on him a bit and tries to force him down under the swamp water, Perseus is able to get to his sword. There is a sword strike, but we don’t see how badly Calibos is struck down, leading one to believe he may’ve been killed off-screen [but that would be lame, so thankfully not].
Scene 25: Abrupt cut to the Temple of Thetis, where Andromeda stands by the side of her mother, Cassiopeia. She readies to deliver the latest riddle of Calibos’, though she hopes that nobody will offer to solve it.
Cassie is a bit ticked that nobody steps forth when she calls for a suitor for her daughter, despite the appalling costs of doing so [presumably because she’s scared to death of what will befall Phoenicia when no heir after Andromeda presents themselves, especially with Andromeda basically withdrawing altogether from her burden of guilt over the deaths that Calibos has made her participate in - basically leaving Joppa with no ruler once she‘s gone or to infirm to rule herself].
Obviously, Perseus and Ammon were standing just outside of the temple doors so that they could make a dramatic entrance. Which they do, now that Cassie has given them an appropriate cue.
Perseus presents himself as Prince & Heir to the Kingdom of Argos… which only a few random standers-by actually react to, despite that rather dramatic destruction the entire city-state suffered less than three decades ago.
Andromeda recognizes Perseus, despite her being asleep when he came to her, and recalls that she saw him in a dream with wonderment. She begs that he abandon her to her fate, but he instructs her to ask her riddle. Reluctantly, she recites, “In my mind’s eyes, I see three circles joined in priceless, graceful harmony. Two full as the moon, one hollow as a crown. Two from the sea, five fathoms down. One from the Earth, deep under the ground. The whole, a mark of high renown. Tell me, what can it be?”
Perseus tells her to have courage. And produces the answer… the ring of Calibos… still attached to his hand, which he cut off in that battle within the swamp!
He announces to the gathered that he spared Calibos’ life on condition that he renounced the curse over Joppa. He tells Andromeda that she is freed from her nightmare, as is the Kingdom of Phoenicia.
Commentary: There is a problem I have in general with Andromeda, but it’s not really the script’s fault, so much as the basic role for her in this hero’s tale. Basically, she’s a McGuffin. She’s the object for Perseus to win through his trials, and that makes her basically decoration for much of this story, despite her screen time.
I could probably mostly get by this, if not for Judi Bowker, here. She gives some really good performances opposite Neil as Calibos, but their scene together is very short. And I did like the way she delivered the riddle. But for most of her screen time, she’s another cipher, lacking in any distinguishing features or magnetic presence that can draw you to her, even when she’s not much active to do.
For a contrast, when Maggie Smith is standing in the background, you can’t help but have your eyes watching for what she may do there. She has a magnetic personality that can’t be hidden by her character not being the focus of the scene. To an extent, I think that Sian Phillips as Cassiopeia has this same quality. But unfortunately, neither of our leads does and that hurts the scenes in which they are of focus. They also, as our heroic pair who will have a passion for the ages, don’t have a connection with one another that leaps off the screen and entices you to believe in their star crossed, fated love.
There just isn’t anything there to latch onto with this couple, which makes us want to get back to the Harryhausen monsters. And that, though maybe expected for a fantasy film, is unfortunate. The actors who have magnetism don’t have enough screen time, and the characters who need the screen are played by actors with not enough magnetism to command attention.
Scene 26: Some short time later, celebrations are in progress for the lifting of the curse over Phoenicia, and for the betrothal of Perseus and Andromeda.
[And, oh my god, mine eyes are immediately yanked to the right background where Hunk O’ Delicious is standing in a purple toga. He’s ravishing.]
We have a [very quick and oddly inserted] moment of Perseus standing with Andromeda, looking like he wants to say something to her [uhh… okay…].
Scene 27: Into the Temple of Thetis, Calibos has snuck, while everyone is distracted by the festivities. He kneels before her giant statue and calls out to his deity mother.
He begs Thetis to show him how to punish Perseus, equating his grievous wound as a direct insult to Thetis, which… [wow, arrogance much; clearly Andromeda is way better off without you, arsehole].
Thetis does respond. But she informs her son that Perseus in under the protection of Zeus. She cannot touch him. This causes Calibos to anguish that her lord, Poseidon should release the Kraken upon Joppa to punish Cassie and Andromeda. He pleads to destroy Joppa as Argos was destroyed… for justice, you understand.
She turns aside his request, questioning if he seeks justice or revenge.
Scene 28: Meanwhile, we rejoin Perseus and Andromeda. He goes to kiss her, but she turns her face away. He asks her if she loved Calibos, but she denies this as well. She puts down her involvement with him to youth and being blinded by the excitement of his vigor [i.e. she fell in lust for the bad boy… who hasn’t?], but it wasn’t love.
He asks how she feels toward him now, and she replies she has pity for him. She asks Perseus why he didn’t kill him, and he admits he feels a bit of pity toward him, too. She asks how they could be familiar with one another when they haven’t met until that morning and he admits to seeing her while she slept… which is alarming, but quickly waved aside [it could be easily interpreted as he saw her in a dream as well, so I can overlook her not running to her mother right now to find a way out of this engagement].
He pretty-words her to bamboozle her around that whole “checked you out while you were sleeping” bit. Now that he’s reached her heart with passionate words, he gets that kiss.
Scene 29: Sometime later, the marriage ceremony is being performed by the Queen with Thetis’ priests overseeing. It takes place in Thetis’ temple, of course.
And our story ends with Perseus and Andromeda living happily ever after.
Oh, wait. No, no they don’t. Because Thetis may not be able to punish Joppa for Calibos’ gross injury the way he begged, but she can take her own vengeance on Cassiopeia, Perseus and Andromeda. And Cassie’s big mouth gives her the cause she’s no doubt been begging to find when she rather innocently calls her daughter more beautiful than the goddess herself… and in her own temple.
Thetis calls this out as an insult beyond the ability to tolerate, ignoring Cassie’s entreaty for mercy and pity on her foolish misspoken compliment, in no way being meant as insulting. But this isn’t about some random statement, anyway, so her pleading is ignored.
Thetis’ displeasure is first shown by a city wide rumbling, followed by the head of her statue tumbling off and crashing to the floor. As the goddess appeared to her son, she now appears to those gathered at this until now happy occasion.
She calls out Cassie for being a vain and foolish mortal woman. Thetis demands that in 30 days, Andromeda is to be taken to the ocean side and chained up to the sacrificial stone there. She is to be a virgin. And she is to be given to the Kraken to repay the insult to Thetis and the injury done to her son, Calibos. She demands that the Kraken be given the virginal Andromeda as the sun sets, or Joppa and all of its citizens will be destroyed.
Commentary: I like this scene for what it is. I loved the image of Thetis’ face opening the statue’s eyes to glare at Cassie for her boast. And I love that Thetis is able to get around Zeus by responding to a direct challenge to her, so he can’t do anything about it. But I really wanted here was a shot of Olympus with Laurence and Maggie having a short, intense stand off because as actors, we just don’t get enough interaction between these two, or really any of the gods. It would’ve been nice if Zeus raged and thundered at her implacable insistence that she had the right and there wasn’t anything he could do to thwart her just vengeance on the mortals under her own patronage. Just as Hera couldn’t stop his vengeance against Argos. It would’ve been fun to see Thetis’ superior look on her face when a seething Zeus had to back down, and his calculated look as he prepares to assist his son in setting this to right.
I also want to point to the music here again, as it very nicely builds up to the moment when Thetis’ face imprints on the statue.
Scene 30: [Now, you’d think the answer to this dilemma would be a pretty obvious, “Oh please, Bitch. Everyone! Attention, please! We’re packing up and moving away from the coast to found a new city with a patron who isn’t a vengeful nutjob! Everybody get your things and be ready to leave in a week!” But of course, nobody thinks to actually abandon the city. And, ‘Oh, hi movie-boyfriend in the background. I love your beard! And your legs! But the perm? We need to discuss that.’]
Perseus paces with Ammon to figure out a way to save Andromeda without Joppa getting wiped out. Perseus offers there must be a way to kill the Kraken, but Ammon tells him nobody knows of any way to do so.
Ammon suddenly tells Perseus that though there is no way known to man to kill the Kraken, there may be a way known to woman. He suggests a dangerous journey to the cave of the Stygian Witches, who may know how to defeat a Titan.
Movie Boyfriend!Thallo reports that even if they were to share that knowledge, the Witches are said to have an especial hankering for the flesh of men. He’s unlikely to get back to Joppa with his newfound knowledge. He warns Perseus that when Calibos’ curse was first placed on the city, the Queen sent ambassadors to the Witches for their council. None returned.
Andromeda, eavesdropping on the men-business, begs to be taken with Perseus on his journey so they can spend time at one another’s side. There is some tender face touching, but we don’t hear his answer.
Scene 31: Thankfully for everyone, it’s another full moon night so Pegasus has returned to the bubbling, smoking pond to drink again. Un-thankfully, this time Calibos is there to rid Perseus of his quick travel to the Witches’ far away cave.
Calibos and his denizens of the swamp are able to capture the flying steed with his bullwhip and heavy netting [we have to presume that Pegasus’ dismembered corpse isn’t left for Perseus to find because Calibos has learned his lesson about pissing off Zeus, and how his mother cannot intervene with the King of the Olympian Gods… which, uh, shouldn’t actually have taken this sort of desperate punishment to begin with; Idiot].
Scene 32: The following day, Perseus, Andromeda, Thallo and the Dayplayer Contingent search the area for Pegasus, apparently expecting a horse who can fly anywhere to just hang out at the magic pond, even when there isn’t a full moon and ergo not going to be drinking. Because.
Thallo [in his very short tunic… alas, it’s obvious he’s wearing underwear, damn it] reports that they’ve searched and Pegasus is nowhere to be found [because the damned horse can fly ANYWHERE…].
Perseus decides they can’t wait and readies to set out at a hard ride for the Witches’ location himself. But Andromeda tells him that they will all ride as escort for him to the lair, except for Harod, who will return to inform the Queen of their new plans.
Perseus tries to dissuade her, but she reminds him that in the Queen’s absence and until they’re married, she is in command. [HAH! Take that Prince-Escort Bitter-Glare!]
She tells her soldiers and her husband-to-be that they follow the North Star and gallops off without waiting. [We’ll just have to accept that she has a great sense of where the stars are aligned during the day… above the clouds… uh, maybe she should’ve just said “We ride North”, without the flourish.]
Meanwhile, Calibos hasn’t gone far and is behind a tree watching their progress [which is taking place on an obvious movie screen and it’s painfully primitive looking… ouch…].
Commentary: And Yay! One shining moment when Andromeda acts proactively to save herself in some way, reminds Perseus that being the man doesn’t make him the ruler over her, and shows a commanding presence to HER soldiers. Love, love, love this.
It is just a moment. But it’s a good moment.
Scene 33: Up in Olympus, Zeus is worrying over Perseus’ move into more danger. Hera snidely reminds Zeus that he’ll find the Kraken a bit more formidable than Calibos. He turns to Athena to confirm that the Helm of Invisibility cannot be retrieved for his son, and on confirmation, orders a new gift to replace it. The gift he commands is her own beloved owl, Bubo because of its all-knowing/all-seeing nature. Athena is struck by this, but Zeus insists [because ZEUS IS A PRICK]. Athena whispers at his back, “Never”.
Commentary: This is another nice scene due strictly to the acting that really captures the gods and goddesses immaturity as entities. Hera is nearly spitting joyfully when reminding Zeus how little chance his son will have against the Kraken, and Zeus himself is bitterly smiling at Athena’s stricken look as he reminds her that his wish for Perseus to be given her beloved pet is his wish and command. They’re all just repugnant ‘people’ and you can see that in this short scene.
Scene 34: Despite a direct command from Zeus, Athena refuses to part with her pet and have it placed in danger of being killed for Perseus’ quest. Instead, she conspires with Hephaestus to have a clockwork owl constructed instead to serve in her Bubo’s place.
Commentary: Which, yes, means we’re about to have a cute-animal-sidekick who will also serve as unneeded and annoying comedy-relief. *Sigh*
Maybe I was just an unusual kid, but I could never stand the cutesy animal sidekick. Ever.
Scene 35: On Earth, our troupe ride, ride, ride.
Perseus calls for a halt, and looks over the desert wasteland they’ve ridden into. Mountains surround them on all sides, but all of them are far in the distance. He despairs that they could be lost for days, wasting time in this emptiness.
But Andromeda calls out to look at the jerkily flying bird-thingie making its way toward them.
Mechani-Bubo arrives to lead our heroes to the cave they require. Perseus, thankfully, has been granted the ability to understand Bubo’s chirps and whistles, making clear to Ammon that this is another gift of the gods to help them.
Scene 36: So Replacement-Bubo leads our troupe into a canyon of towering rock formations. In the distance is a rock stele marking their destination.
Perseus and his men climb up the rock cliff to the top where they presume the Witches will be found. It is a perilous climb and I’m sure you’re all shocked when Perseus doesn’t slip and fall to his death.
Scene 37: In the cave of the Stygians, we find three old crones. They are toiling over a ginourmous black kettle filled with some vaguely repulsive brown goo [which looks disturbingly like the consistency of baby poop]. The sisters are completely blind, but for one crystal ball used to see out of, meaning they’re constantly going to be demanding it from one another so they can see the strangers coming to visit.
Perseus introduces himself as someone who needs a little advice, while the sisters attempt to get him to come closer and closer to their cooking pot. With the Witches chuckling evilly to one another as they close on what they presume to be more meat for their simmering people-stew, he shouts out to Thallo.
Bubo flies into the interior of the Witches hovel, confusing them with its whistles and electronic hoots. And pulling their focus off of the immediate slaughter of the young man who deigned to find them.
Bubo snatches up the crystal eye, leaving the witches blind to exactly where Perseus is now located, and relatively helpless [despite that whole Witch thing… which they seem to be more like distaff Oracles than anything else].
Perseus uses the eye as a bargaining chip to get his question answered. How does a mortal kill a Titan?
The answer: There is no way for a mortal, even one with an army, to defeat the Titan. But… a Gorgon is another story. They send Perseus to fetch the head of Medusa. But they warn that the Gorgon’s blood is a deadly poison just as dangerous as her eyes’ ability to turn all living things to stone with a look. They offer that the eye which Perseus has now come into contact with can poison proof his cloak to keep the blood from contacting his skin.
They then demand the return of the eye as to their agreement.
He tosses the eye to them, but out of their immediate reach so that he and his men will have time to escape their craggy mountain before they get their sight back.
And now it’s more travel to the Isle of the Dead at the edge of the Underworld for Medusa’s head.
Commentary: I was going to mention this in the Scoring section, but we may as well handle it here. The length of this movie is a bit long in the tooth. Bumping the edge of two hours. And much of that is getting Perseus set up for his quest to save Andromeda, and then rushing to this castle and that in order to finally reach the final confrontation with the Kraken. It can start to be a “oh, for fuck’s sake - NOW where do we need to go” type of affair. But for the most part, I don’t find the movie to be a slog despite its length, because each individual scene has enough going on in it to hold my interest. And the anticipation of Harryhausen’s next stop motion creation keeps me vested in continuing the journey. Your mileage will definitely vary depending on how into stop motion you are, and how much you enjoy faux-Greek legends.
For me, this movie - though long - doesn’t outstay its welcome because there is always something happening, some eye candy or unexpectedly good performance that keeps things moving forward. In this case, pacing is definitely going to be a individual experience, and there are some scenes that are talky that could’ve been tightened up a bit more in editing but I’m very happy to spend two hours with this one.
Except for this particular moment, when I have to transcribe every scene. But even with that, what I really like about the pacing of this film, and what you can see by the number of scenes and their descriptions, is that we’re not hyperactively skipping around. Every scene is given room to breathe and get its information across to us and we’re not wondering why a particular scene is being broken up or intruded upon by jumping to check on some irrelevant character doing nothing of importance, rather than staying with the scene of relevance. For that, I’m going to issue a kudo to the director and editor, Desmond Davis & Timothy Gee because this really could’ve been a torturous amount of time to spend if either of them had boned the project.
Scene 38: That day-for-night, Ammon despairs about the amount of time that is passing so quickly bringing Joppa closer to its death. Perseus is focused on landing on the Isle of the Dead and asks Ammon for what he knows of Medusa.
We hear of Medusa’s “betrayal” of Aphrodite [except only in an arrogant, petty goddesses viewpoint according to this particular history as the one who should‘ve been pissed off is Thetis since Poseidon is the one who seduces her in this version… whatevs… gods are petty] and her punishment into a gorgon so that no man could ever stand look at her again without being turned to stone.
This talk upsets Andromeda as she ponders the risks to her husband-to-be and the seeming hopelessness in the quest to save her. Perseus tells Andromeda to return to the city rather than risk further hardships on this search for Medusa, but she refuses. He tells her that she needs to sleep then, as they ride at first light. She nearly weeps for their lack of time together.
Scene 39: The following morning we see Perseus and squad on their journey. Andromeda is not with them. When she awakens, she finds Ammon waiting with her and knows immediately that Perseus left the two of them behind to make their way back to Joppa and relative safety to await whether he succeeds or falls to Medusa.
[Because, the city has not been evacuated and Andromeda doesn’t even think of running off to Athens or Herculaneum or Pylos… etc. No, the plan is to just march off to death instead.]
Scene 40: Back with Perseus, he, movie-boyfriend and dayplayers arrive at the fog obscured River Styx. Thallo gives Perseus a coin for passage with the ferryman, Charon.
At the shore, Perseus blows a horn to summon the boat to take them to an island across the way, presumably the Isle of the Dead. He takes three dayplayers with him, which doesn’t make me feel good about their chances.
At first, nothing seems to happen, but then there is the creaking of a wood boat and a dark shape coming out of the mists. When it arrives, Perseus attempts to board but is blocked as Charon holds out its hand to him, and looks at him from beneath his heavy cloak. Of course, he’s waiting for the payment before he’ll allow any to come aboard.
Scene 41: Across the way, Perseus and his group are released at a cavern system.
They make their way around tumbled stones, where the ceiling is slowly coming down over the ages. Perseus warns his men against looking directly at Medusa, cautioning to only use their shields as mirrors, for her reflection can’t harm them.
The passageway leads to the ruins of a temple in the open air of a field.
Commentary: Yes… DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT HER. What do you think the chances are that at least one of our soldiers will end up doing just that?
Scene 42: As the men draw their swords to continue through the abandoned pavilion to the goddess Aphrodite, two pairs of red eyes glow from a shadowed entrance and watch them with soft growls.
A warning greets our adventurers in the guise of a man, turned petrified as he looked over his shoulder at something, never to move again.
They split up into two teams of two.
Scene 43: As Perseus and one of our extras proceed, they are suddenly jumped from behind and knocked to the ground with much growling. Their attacker is the owner of the two pairs of eyes: The two-headed dog, Dioskilos, watchdog to Medusa’s lair.
The canine snarls, growls and barks at the intruders. While our extra is knocked unconscious, the dog goes for Perseus, but the sounds of the battle draw our two others to save him from being munched on as he loses hold of his sword.
Scene 44: While our two soldiers are trying to deal with Dioskilos, Perseus finds retrieving his sword blocked by a python who appears to be trying to coil around it and drag it off from his reach.
But then he reaches down and snatches it, and it was easy and not all that dangerous after all. He rejoins his men, one of whom is now on the ground trying to hold off the hound with his shield while his fighting partner is… um… taking a leak?
Two quick jabs with that magic sword and both throats of Dioskilos is punctured, leaving the animal to choke with pathetic whimpering, until Perseus jabs deeply into the animal’s heart through its back.
Perseus intones now it is three against one, soooo… did other guy die? How?? Or are they just not going to try to revive him right now? Let’s get back to that later.
Later: Apparently he hit his head really hard, because yes... he's dead.