Via Monsieur Edroso, I learned that Ray Harryhausen died yesterday. Sadly, I had no idea he had still been with us as of yesterday morning. Mr Harryhausen was a towering figure in the cinematic special-effects world, taking up the torch of Willis O'Brien and passing it to just about everybody in the special effects industry. The redoubtable Smut Clyde linked to John Coulthart's post, which pointed out Ray Harryhausen's mastery of pencil-and-charcoal, which drew inspiration from the works of Gustave Doré. Harryhausen was a masterful sculptor, and his grasp of anatomy gave his fanciful creations a patina of realism.
Ray Harryhausen's movies were always a treat when they were featured on the local television station's "4:30 Movie". Harryhausen's interpretations of Greek myths, along with the contemporaneous children's retellings by the D'Aulaires, inspired at least two generations of dreamers. Ray Harryhausen's ouvre helped to popularize the now-ubiquitous fantasy genre. Without Ray, would the "Star Wars", "Harry Potter", and "Game of Thrones" franchises have been the smash hits they are?
Enough of my weepy-eyed yapping, the best way to pay homage to the man is to post some videos of his work. I'm going to post some of my personal favorites (Roy posted the famous "skeleton battle" from 1963's Jason and the Argonauts, so I'll leave that wonderful scene out of this post).
Here is a great sequence involving a phorusrhacid attack a castaways' campsite in 1961's Mysterious Island:
The scene from Jason and the Argonauts in which Talos awakens has the perfect amount of creepiness for a children's matinee:
The most eye-popping visual affect in 1974's Golden Voyage of Sinbad was Caroline Munro's décolletage, but Ray's sequence involving an animated statue of Kali is pretty nifty:
In 1969's Valley of Gwangi, Ray animated two dinosaurs fighting, which is almost as cool as two dinosaurs actually fighting:
The Dragon-vs-Cyclops fight from 1958's Seventh Voyage of Sinbad is perhaps the coolest monster fight of them all:
Rest in peace, Ray, you made afternoon matinees memorable, and cinema fantastic.
POSTSCRIPT: It hit me after posting this... Mysterious Island, with its bird attack, crab attack, giant bee scene, and cephalopod scene, could have been titled Attack of the Giant Delicious Things. It could be interpreted as a piece of cinematic food porn to rival Tampopo or Big Night.