Yesterday the world learned the sad news that stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen had passed away. To me he was one of the most important special effects geniuses within the film industry, with a career spanning 5 or so decades. It all began for Ray after watching the original 1933 version of King Kong. This clearly inspired him and he began making his own stop-motion films in his garage. It wasn’t long before his talents were spotted. He went on to create some of the most startling on-screen beasties, although for me the most impressive was his skeleton army for Jason and the Argonauts back in 1963. Yes 1963!
This really upped the ante from his original (but also brilliant) solo skeleton fight in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), by a factor of seven. It has proved so enduring that even popular video games such as Golden Axe (one of my favourites as a youngster) paid homage to it.
Anyway, point being – without his work would we have had the likes of Henry Selick, Peter Jackson, Phil Tippet, Rob Bottin, Aardman, Tim Burton, ILM or countless other talented animators? They are all clearly big fans and indebted to his efforts. Personally give me his stop-motion animation over most of the glossy but clinical Computer Generated Imagery we see today.
The web and YouTube are rightly being flooded with tributes, so to end here is a short compilation of Ray’s creatures: