Master Of Monsters

Master Of Monsters

MovieBob takes a look at the filmography of special effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

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Growing up as I did, the best times I had were in trying to remake the iconic scenes from Jason or Clash of the Titans with my homegrown claymation set, aka Playdough and a polaroid camera. I didn't have a clue about the business nor did I pursue it beyond 10 years old (moving on to action figures and their respective playsets namely GI JOE). Still it is fond memories and I am thankful for Ray's influence on my early life. I'll never forget how he is directly responsible for both my fear of skeletons rising to life and fucking huge ass scorpions.

EDIT: This apparently didn't make it into my original post, don't know how:
I do want to express how sad I am not for his passing so much but that he never achieved more than a cult status following seeing how his FX were so awesome, and in some ways more lifelike than today's CGI. I hope that since he has passed there will be some posthumous recognition by Hollywood even if they passed him by in life. And his Kraken was more awesome than the remake's.

EDIT2: Found out today I share a birthday with him. Sad.

Thank you for that excellent tribute to an amazing artist.

I grew up on his films, watching them on Creature Features late at night. Utterly spellbound by his monsters. His influence will be felt for years in the movie industry.

Wow... I have a little tear in my eye. I am sad that Mr Harryhausen has passed, and sadder that it made so little notice that this is the first time I had heard of it. Both he and his movies had such a profound effect on me as a kid. I remember watching them over and over again, reading the books on special effects and wanting to help make this kind of magic. In the end, I pursued a love of computers over special effects... but I've never forgotten. And I'm far from the only person he's inspired.. So thank you, Mr Harryhausen... for generations worth of imagination. Rest well, sir.

Clash of the Titans, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad made my early childhood and Ray Harryhausen's work definitely started me on the road to being a lifelong fantasy fan and film geek. It's a real shame to see him go but living to 92, and accomplishing that much just by being passionate, creative and hard-working, is pretty badass by anyone's standards.

edit: because that feels inadequate...I can't actually overstate how great this guy was. He changed the world by doing what he loved and striving to be awesome at it.

I grew up watching his films as Sunday afternoon repeats, sorry to see him go, he basically was special effects.

I was rather bummed when I heard of his passing. I loved the crap out of his monsters when I was a child. Anytime a Sinbad movie came on TV, I'd stop what I was doing so I could watch it.

I've only heard of Harryhausen from the original Clash of the Titans, but I now see he left behind an incredible body of work and a legacy of movie making magic. I do not want to think of a world where this didn't happen.

The only famous person I ever cried over was Steve Irwin, being my childhood hero, but this hurt.

Harryhausen was a massive part of my growing up, my parents split up and I only got to see my dad on weekends, so when I stayed over his house we would watch movies usually fantasy and Harryhausen was our main stay. Me and my brother would reinact the skeleton fight with fake swords whenever we went to the beach. The medusa scene scared the crap outta me as a kid but I love it to bits now, I always hold it up as an example of doing something very, VERY right.

Not to mention, im a massive animation nut and his pressence doesn't even need mention, he's one of the freaking foundations.

Much respect Bob, I figured you'd have something nice to say.

It's a shame Ray Harryhausen didn't obtain as much box office success during his career but his movies left a mark on everyone that watched them. There is no denying that he inspired so many filmmakers and they all owe him a debt of gratitude.

Rest in peace, Ray.

Oh man, this is one cinema icon whose passing I'd been dreading for a while; I'm just glad he made it to 92. Harryhausen has always been for me the greatest genius is special effects history- the holy trinity of Jason and the Argonauts' energetic seven skeleton battle, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad's thrilling Kali duel and Clash of the Titans' terrifying Medusa encounter have always been 3 of the most amazing effects sequences in history.

Rest in peace, Ray. The legacy of your genius will endure forever.

Has there ever been a special effects shot as iconic as the skeleton battle in Jason And The Argonauts?

Thinking about Harryhausen and the art of stop-motion effects just makes me sad for where special effects technology has gone. It used to be a real artform, a craft even. You used to get real geniuses putting their all into crafting iconic special effects which would stun the audiences. Now, we just see lazy CGI rushed out by overworked programmers, with little thought given to artistry. Part of me hopes that we'll see a revival of stop-motion technology. Amateur film-makers on Youtube have shown that it can be a much more viable, and realistic, form of special effect when used with digital motion blur, and it has the advantage of being cheap as muck too.

That second one is from a Harryhausen film, and it's amazing how well his work stands up even to this day when you give it just a slight touching up with some motion blur. The man's sense of weight, understanding of motion, and his sheer ability to capture the smallest animal movements is just incredible.

You know, it actually hurts to read that his works went so unappreciated in their time. Even though that seems to be a theme for true visionaries, it would've been better if he'd gotten the recognition he so richly deserved when it would have most mattered.

Then again, the fact that he pressed on despite the lack of acclaim, doing it for the art rather than the cash, speaks even better of him.

It's sad when they pass. I remember how Forrest Ackerman used to give tours of his house to show his collection. Did you know he had the special effects guys who worked on Fritz Lang's Metropolis rebuild Maria (the robot version) for him?

Ray will be missed too.

There are three different books on him at least, the biography, scrapbook and artwork book.

I have seen the box sets but am not sure which one has the most movies.

Valley of the Gwangi would be a good candidate for a remake also.

As kids, my brother and I rewatched the Skeleton scene so often that our video cassette (and the VCR) ended up wearing out. Besides that scene, my favourite is Talos:

Wonderful blending of special effects and atmosphere here, which you tend not to see in most other movies: once a spectacular monster appears, the emphasis is on action. But here, Harryhausen's animation is combined with dramatic tension and a sense of foreboding. The second you see Talos, you just know he's going to get up, but you still have to sweat it out for a couple of minutes. When it finally happens, it still somehow feels like a surprise. You just don't get that in this day and age with easy, CGI popup monsters.

Oh,wow. I haven't seen that skeleton battle since my early teens. I was assuming it wouldn't look as seamless as I remembered, but it actually looks way BETTER! All kinds of amazing stunts.

RIP, Ray Harryhausen. And thanks.

Ugh, them skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid.

R.I.P. Ray, and thanks for the sleepless nights.

A well spoken send off to a major legend Bob. Thanks or writing that up.

I have to go be sad now.

Clash of the Titans is one of my earliest movie memories and still remains one of my all-time favourites (I just watched it the other day, in fact). Sad that a legend has passed, glad he was alive to fill us with wonder.

Ufff... these are sad news.
I've seen all of the films you mentioned in the article (when they came out and I was very little), and one of the reasons I love movies (just as many present day filmmakers talk about King Kong or Lawrence of Arabia being pivotal to their love of the medium) are: The Cyclops and the Skeleton fight. "Awesome" was coined right then.
A master of masters indeed. Rest in peace.


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