When I was naught but a tiny nerd, there were few flights of fancy that could stand up to the creature packed features of visual effects mastermind Ray Harryhausen. Widely considered the father of special effects (well, pre-computer generated ones, anyway), Harryhausen’s stop motions creations elevated movie monsters from mere puppets to characters in their own right.
Mentoring under Willis H O’Brien, the stop motion artist who brought King Kong to life in 1933, Ray would strike it big with his amazing animation of a dinosaur ripping apart New York City in the 1953 film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. His list of credits doubles as a 'Best of…” list for the greatest flights of fantasy from the 50s, 60s, and 70s: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, One Million Years B.C, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, and the Sinbad trilogy (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger) which he also helped write.
Sadly, Ray Harryhausen departed this mortal realm Tuesday, May 7 2013, at the ripe, young age of 92. In this very special edition of the Weekend Watchlist, we’re capturing one fame at a time while waving a fond farewell to The Master of Movie Monsters, The Sultan of Stop Motion, The Vizier of Visual Effects, Ray Harryhausen.
We kick off this Watchlist with a tribute from Jack Perez, a true fan and director of such delightfully kitschy films like Monster Island and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.
This next feature is a fantastic collage of some of the fan favorite fiends throughout the years. Here’s hoping the light bulb goes on over the heads of our younger audience members as they finally understand what we’re talking about
And now it’s time to hear from the man himself! Harkening back to 1974, here’s and interview with Ray following the release of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.
And now we fight! One of my personal favorites, the skeleton fight from the end of Jason and the Argonauts. So… um, 50 year old spoiler warning, I guess.
Special kudos to Dave Conover, the producer of our next selection. Three years ago Dave put together this wee (you’ll get the pun later) tribute to Ray’s special effects wizardry.
Yeah, 2010 was a great year for salutes to this maker of monster mayhem. What follows in the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, better known as BAFTA, tribute to Ray’s 90th birthday. Join the Academy and a array of special guests as they reminisce about how Harryhausen’s work influenced the special effects artists for decades to come. In the words of Ken Ralston, Visual Effect Supervisor and Creative Head at Sony Pictures Imageworks, “It took armies and armies of people to do what you did by yourself.”
Our next feature turns back to the man himself. Channel 4 in the U.K. interviewed Ray as part of their Big World Animators series back in 1991.
Finally, we go on location with model memorabilia makers Gentle Giant as they check out the original figured used in what is widely considered to be Harryhausen’s magnum opus, Clash of the Titans. Don’t let Ray’s typewriter fool you! This feature is from 2004. Release the Kraken!