Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Part 2 of my capsule review of some of the coolest films ever.

"Mysterious Island" 1961

Ray gets back into the game but all he can muster is giant crabs!

...and the dreaded...giant chickeny-turkey-thingy!

In 1992 Ray was awarded the "Gordon E. Sawyer Award" for "technological contributions (which) have brought credit to the industry". Tom Hank was the presenter and he (and I paraphrase) said, "Film scholars always argue which is the greatest film ever made. 'Casablanca' or 'Citizen Kane'. I of course know it was 'Jason and the Argonauts'."
I have to agree. Welllll, maybe "The Incredibles".

"Jason and the Argonauts" 1963 (the year I was born)

Ooooooooh, now we're talkin'! Giant bronze colossus! Bitchin'!

...and he upped the ante with a sword fight with 5 skeletons...OUTSIDE no less!

"First Men in the Moon" 1964

This covers the gamut. 19th century space capsules!

...telepathic moon people...

...and giant caterpillars!

"One Million Years B.C." 1966

OK...so some of the dinosaurs here were just lizards with spines stapled to their backs...

...but there were some cool stop motion dinosaurs too.

But of course the really amazing animation performed in this film...

...was Raquel Welch. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

"The Valley of Gwangi" 1969

Cowboys and Dinosaurs! It doesn't get much better than that!

Cowboys and Dinosaurs in Mexico? With James Franciscus? Now you've topped yourself!

"The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" 1974
More Sinbad fun!

Cyclopian Centaurs!!!

Mmmmmmmmm. Early "spank bank".

"Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" 1977

I know what you're thinking. How does stop-motion Sinbad circa 1977 compete with Star Wars?
How about Golden Minotaurs?

Giant Walruses?

Big fuzzy saber-tooth tigers?

Say what you will. It was cooler than Ewoks.

"Clash of the Titans" 1981

This was a mixed bag. Lawrence Olivier...good idea. Burgess Merideth...good idea. Harry Hamlin...creepy.
This guy?...he and his animated counterpart...good idea.

This guy?...the Ewoks are coming....creepy.

Good idea.

Great Idea! The Kraken has been released!!!!

Thanks Ray!

Monday, June 29, 2009


Today is Ray Harryhausen's 89th birthday. Ray is the stop motion/special effects guy behind some of the just-plain-fun movies ever made. Spanning from the 40's to the 80's, Ray's magic touched only 15 feature films (16, but "Animal World" was not released theatrically and the piece Ray worked on has only recently been available-as a special feature on "The Black Scorpion" DVD) but they were all the kind of films which made your head spin and your emotions soar with fantasy possibilities.

So many people better qualified than I have written volumes on Ray's philosophy, techniques, thoughts, etc., that I thought I'd just post some images and tickle your memories. Sometimes my job is not to editorialize, but just do my part to keep attention on cool stuff.

"Mighty Joe Young" 1949
...Usually compared with King Kong, but great all on it's own. Real personality animation. Ray was the assistant on this film to Willis O'Brien, his hero who had done Kong 16 years prior.

"The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" 1954

...tell me you didn't think this was cool!

"It Came from Beneath the Sea" 1955

...6 armed octopus? This is what happens when accountants judge the worth of something. 6 were cheaper to animate than 8. sigh.

"Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" 1956

...amazing work. Saucers smashing Washington D.C., even the rubble had to be hung from wire so it could be animated as it fell to the ground.

Yeah I know, this is a costume and probably had nothing to do with Ray...but it's BITCHIN' anyway.

"20 Million Miles to Earth" 1957

The Ymir! Beating up an elephant! Double bitchin'!

"The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" 1958

...I still think she's hot.

Cyclopes' and dragons...oh my!

The Roc. Don't mess with his nest!

The Cyclops again. Just cause he's cool!

Sword fightin' with a skeleton. Soooooooooooooo bitchin'!

"The 3 Worlds of Gulliver" 1950

Probably his most boring film. Probably because of budgeting (god I hate accountants) there wasn't much here in the way of stop-motion beasties, just a lot of forced perspective and other effects to show giants and Lilliputians. Or it could just be Ray's 7th film itch.

To be continued tomorrow...

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