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Tuesday
May072013

Ray Harryhausen, legendary special effects master, has died

I was so sad to just receive the news that Ray Harryhausen has passed away.  There are very few artists in the world whose work had more of an impact on my childhood than Harryhausen.  The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the Sinbad movies, Jason and the Argonauts, all were huge parts of my childhood.  To this day, I prefer stop-motion animation and other practical effects to any of the magic digital effects can offer.  I'll probably write more about Harryhausen's films when I get the time, but, until then, here are a few of my favorite among his creations.  R.I.P. Ray.  You made all of our lives a lot more fun.

 

The skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts: this is probably my favorite film scene from my childhood.  All other fantasy battles on film suffer in comparison.

Mighty Joe Young Coin Toss.  Willis O'Brien won the Oscar for visual effects for this film, but it is well known that Harryhausen handled most of the actual animation duties as O'Brien dealt with other technical aspect.  It still surprises me how emotive Joe is.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms destroys "Coney Island."  This was Harryhausen's first major solo turn as special effects director.  The film originally had another title, but the studio had to buy the rights to Ray Bradbury's story of the same name to avoid a rights dispute.  Coincidentally, the two Rays were childhood friends.  I got to meet the two of them together at a DragonCon years ago.  It is one of the highlights of my life.  I'm not much on autographs, but I really wish I had gotten Harryhausen to sign something that day.

Clash of the Titans: Medusa Battle.  Clash of the Titans was the first of Harryhausen's films that I was able to see in the theater.  It came years after Star Wars and Close Encounters had re-written the rules for special effects.  A lot of critics at the time saw the effects as dated.  I loved them. This medusa battle is about as perfect as fantasy effects get, as far as I'm concerned.

 

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