Happy 90th Birthday, Ray Harryhausen!

June 29, 2010 No Comments »

Today, June 29, 2010 is Ray Harryhausen’s 90th birthday!  Click here for Ray’s official site. Ray, for those few of you who don’t know, is the all-time great master of special effects (especially stop-motion animation).  I wrote about him a bit when the remake of Clash of the Titans came out earlier this year.  Earlier tonight, I turned up a cool video compilation of his creature work, which I’ll drop in below:

A lot of folks on YouTube seem to be having trouble placing the creatures in this compilation, and though it’s late, I’m going to try to break the compilation down by films from memory (and then reference people here to answer their questions).  Times are approximate, depending on your machine – but I think you’ll be able to figure it out.  You should also be able to track down the creatures further – if you want – by individual movie.  They’re pretty much in order of Ray’s career, as I remember.  Here goes…

Start – Mighty Joe Young
0:06 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
0:16 It Came from Beneath the Sea
0:21 The Animal World (included as an extra on The Black Scorpion)
0:31 Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
0:38 20 Million Miles to Earth
0:50 7th Voyage of Sinbad
1:18 Three Worlds of Gulliver
1: 24 Mysterious Island
1: 43 Jason & the Argonauts
2:01 First Men in the Moon
2:22 One Million Years BC
2:55 Valley of Gwangi
3:16 Golden Voyage of Sinbad
3:29 Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger
3:56 Clash of the Titans (original)
End

And (sadly) at that point, Ray retired. (Though it was a well-deserved retirement.) And the only other stuff we’ve got is projects he did when younger or test footage for things that never got off the ground.  But it’s a great, great career – especially considering he was basically a one-man Industrial Light & Magic.  And the world continues to shine with his incredibly influential work.

For a personal favorite special effect not involving monsters (which I love), check out the transformation from the old man into Hermes in Jason & the Argonauts.  It’s like waves of heat on a Greek summer day melting away the old and bringing in the new.  That’s the way gods would change their appearance!  (None of this namby-pamby morphing stuff!)

Happy Birthday, Ray!  Long may you reign as the King of Special Effects!

Addendum – Some cool links about Ray & today’s celebration.

The Guardian UK
The Independent UK
Ain’t It Cool News
Geek to Me
GoreMaster.com

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