Skip

RIP Ray Harryhausen
May 7, 2013 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Ray Harryhausen, the grand master of stop motion animation, has passed away at 92.

Harryhausen created the monsters for 50's creatures features such as Twenty Million Miles to Earth, but is best remembered for the work he did on sword & sandals epics - The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and the film that ended that era and his career, the original Clash of the Titans.
posted by thecjm (129 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
• Oh dear. RIP, Sir.
posted by bz at 11:17 AM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by drezdn at 11:18 AM on May 7, 2013


Do we still have the marquee tag? Because Harryhausen's . deserves to be animated.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:18 AM on May 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


.

I'm gonna watch Jason and the Argonauts when I get home.
posted by khaibit at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


.

This is the scene you need to watch from Jason and the Argonauts.
posted by octothorpe at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Huge huge blow. COTT and the Sinbad films were huge to me, despite most of them having come out before I was born. There wasn't really stop motion without Harryhausen for most of the last 70 years.

.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


. 
 .
  . 
   .
    .

posted by sparklemotion at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


The Ray Harryhausen Creature List

A dot doesn't cut it for me in this case. Harryhausen's the guy that got me into movies as a kid, and this is hitting me pretty hard.

RIP, Mr. Harryhausen. I only wish I had had a chance to meet you.
posted by brundlefly at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Release the Kraken!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:21 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry to hear this, he had a great run.
posted by marxchivist at 11:22 AM on May 7, 2013


.

Thanks for the nightmares.
posted by MrVisible at 11:23 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by mwhybark at 11:25 AM on May 7, 2013


We can only hope that some joker makes his arm move at the funeral.

.
posted by Etrigan at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]




:-{}
posted by tilde at 11:27 AM on May 7, 2013


.
:'(
posted by lucien_reeve at 11:27 AM on May 7, 2013


This clip from The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms always used to freak me out when I was a kid. Bravo, Mr. H.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:27 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Harryhausen made some of the most fantastic movies of my childhood. High fantasy, science fiction, monsters, gods, aliens, swashbuckling action, larger scale disasters. Stuff that was so compelling to me as a youngster, and remains so not only for me, but my own kids. He will be sorely missed and greatly mourned.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


So sad to hear this. Thanks for all the monsters, Mr. Harryhausen.

.
posted by DingoMutt at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2013


Joey, you like movies about gladiators? And stop-motion skeletons and Krakens?
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Celia: "So, uh, are we going anywhere special tonight?"
Mike: "l...I just got us into a little place called, um, Harryhausen's."
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:29 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by jquinby at 11:29 AM on May 7, 2013


.

Team Bubo 4 lyf.
posted by DigDoug at 11:29 AM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Harryhausen was an artist of the highest caliber who lived long enough to see his work resonate throughout the culture. Just think about what an incredible body of work he leaves behind. Earth vs. The Flying Saucers alone would be a masterpiece for any other animation artist, and yet it's considered one of his lesser works! 92 years is a good run. We could all only wish to be so lucky. Maximum respect.

.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:30 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by JamesD at 11:30 AM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:31 AM on May 7, 2013


 |
(.)
posted by rahnefan at 11:31 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




A 100% maker of magic. A fueler of dreams. A childlike enthusiasm throughout his life.

A giant in my life.
posted by Trochanter at 11:33 AM on May 7, 2013


This is the scene that absolutely terrified me when I was five (my mum gave my dad hell for taking me to that movie, but I was obsessed with Greek myths, and he loved it when it first came out).

.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:34 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 11:35 AM on May 7, 2013


Oh no. He was a legend. :(
"...in 2004, that it was seeing King Kong in 1933 that led him to a life in the movies. "I couldn't figure out how it was done," he said of the stop-animation in that film, and he set out to learn."

....

Entertainment Weekly notes that Harryhausen "started making his own stop-motion films in his family's garage while connecting with a burgeoning science-fiction fan community in L.A., including life-long friend Ray Bradbury, who would become one of the pre-eminent sci-fi authors of the 20th century.

posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by dragstroke at 11:39 AM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by gubo at 11:46 AM on May 7, 2013


The man elevated sfx to an art form. His creatures never looked real. They looked better than real.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 11:46 AM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by Maecenas at 11:49 AM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:49 AM on May 7, 2013




Chinese Jet Pilot, am I remembering correctly that you put together the creature list I linked to above?
posted by brundlefly at 11:50 AM on May 7, 2013


oh noes! dang. well...if you're ever in Berlin, stop by the film museum...they have a whole room dedicated to his work, with tons of his original models and lots of film clips...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:51 AM on May 7, 2013


My mom, who was at prime kid age when Jason and the Argonauts came out, made my brother and me watch the skeleton fight scene about ten bazillion times when we were little because of how cool it was. Ray Harryhausen was loved almost as much as Rod Serling in our house.

.
posted by phunniemee at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by tzikeh at 11:56 AM on May 7, 2013


I wish I had a nickel for every filmmaker I've heard cite Jason and the Argonauts as their inspiration. He could have stopped right there and earned his star.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:57 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, if any bit of Harryhausen's work shows up on my screen I will sit down and watch it no matter what is going on. Hats off.
posted by furiousthought at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


He scared the living crap out of me when I was a kid.
posted by tommasz at 11:59 AM on May 7, 2013


I hope his pallbearers are animated skeletons or maybe Ymir. Nothing less will do.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:59 AM on May 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by paulg at 12:02 PM on May 7, 2013


Pixar paid tribute to his work in Monsters, Inc.

The restaurant that Mike Wazowski takes his girlfriend Celia to for her birthday is called Harryhausen's.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:04 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by Brody's chum at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by Lukenlogs at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2013


And now I have this song running through my head: Ray Harryhausen Creates His Perfect 12" Woman.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:07 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by oulipian at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2013


Sword fighting skeletons FTW.
posted by Splunge at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by fight or flight at 12:09 PM on May 7, 2013


Ten years ago, Ray was in my town for a festival and he was kind enough to be on my then-radio-show. Here's the audio of it, which a friend from the station dug up. He was such a sweet and kind man.

.
posted by jbickers at 12:12 PM on May 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sinbad & The Eye Of The Tiger FTW. Absolutely amazed at the F/X when I saw it upon release. The man was magic.
posted by davidmsc at 12:13 PM on May 7, 2013


My favorite Harryhausen film is "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad". (Dr. Who is in it, for one thing.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:15 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by Spatch at 12:17 PM on May 7, 2013


Childhood memories in stop motion.

.
posted by New England Cultist at 12:18 PM on May 7, 2013


As a dinosaur buff, I've always been partial to Valley of Gwangi.
posted by brundlefly at 12:18 PM on May 7, 2013


Clawing up through soil
Born to wonder and anger
Teeth of the hydra

Safe journey, Mr. Harryhausen. Skeleton Warrior loved you, and I did too.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:23 PM on May 7, 2013


.

Absolute titan of cinema, I've always loved his Martian from his never made War of the Worlds
posted by brilliantmistake at 12:24 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:29 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:38 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by Webbster at 12:41 PM on May 7, 2013


brilliantmistake: ".

Absolute titan of cinema, I've always loved his Martian from his never made War of the Worlds
"

Wow, I loved that. Liked how the portal had left-hand threads and unscrewed clockwise giving it an extra alien feel.
posted by octothorpe at 12:42 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ray Harryhausen was loved almost as much as Rod Serling in our house.

Wow, I'd never put them together before, but if you ever wanted to explain why I never had a problem with being head over heels for stuff made before I was born, there's the two that opened the door.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:47 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ω
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:49 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Lynsey at 12:54 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by oneironaut at 12:55 PM on May 7, 2013


I can't find a clip from it (other than this trailer), but "Ymir" from 20 Million Miles to Earth might be the most sympathetic movie monster ever (well, ok, after King Kong). Poor little (and then really big) guy.

A bunch of Harryhausen movies are ONLY worth watching for the stuff he does in them, but that one's pretty engrossing.
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:03 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


RIP, and two links: a pic of the skeletons at the Berlin film museum, and a not-so-popular homage to Harryhausen.
posted by muckster at 1:12 PM on May 7, 2013


.
Still the best Medusa IMO.
posted by aletheia at 1:12 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw his sculptures in a show here in Los Angeles at the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences and they were even more beautiful in actuality than on film, much more so than Aslan or Yoda. Thanks Mr. Harryhausen for making some great films
posted by effluvia at 1:20 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by cookie-k at 1:38 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by Token Meme at 1:40 PM on May 7, 2013


.--------->.
posted by iviken at 1:44 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sad news. I love Ray's work. And the influence he had on later animators was huge. Next time you watch Robocop take out Ed-209 look for that final "death-rattle" in his toe. An obvious nod to the great "death-rattle" from Medusa's tail in Clash of the Titans.

I went to a RH talk/screening of Jason and the Argonauts a few years ago. I wound up in the seat right next to the man! After the movie he went on stage to speak and brought a few "old friends". He had one of the Medusa models used in CotTs and an original JatAs skeleton swordsman. True movie stars in my mind.

Also, he was charming and funny and very down to earth.
He left behind some brilliant work.

.
posted by JBennett at 1:54 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Earth vs. The Flying Saucers alone would be a masterpiece for any other animation artist, and yet it's considered one of his lesser works!

Is it really? That's sad. It's been one of my "If it's on tv, I'm sitting down and watching it" movies since I was a kid.

TCM often pre-empts their regular schedule when someone important dies, to show a batch of the person's films. Hope they do a Harryhausen blast tonight or tomorrow.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:04 PM on May 7, 2013


People of Earth, attention! A film-making genius left your world today.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:05 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


RIP Ray. Saw him about 5 or 6 years ago at a lecture in Bristol. Every. single. South Western filmmaker was in the audience, including a lanky raw-boned guy with a long red plait...

Harryhausen was was engaging, simple, groundbreaking, and funny. Strange how straightforward true innovation can seem.
posted by glasseyes at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2013


Thorzdad, I would guess Earth vs The Flying Saurcers is considered "lesser" if only because it's not creature-intensive. Most of Harryhausen's stop motion work was for the saucers themselves. It's been years since I've seen it, but do we even see the aliens?
posted by brundlefly at 2:35 PM on May 7, 2013


We do see the aliens in Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, but they're just men in suits. No stop-motion involved.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:42 PM on May 7, 2013


°±°
posted by rougy at 2:43 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


He was brilliant!

posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:45 PM on May 7, 2013


We do see the aliens in Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, but they're just men in suits. No stop-motion involved.

We see one alien when its helmet is removed, too, and we see its face. But, that's just a rubber doll or something.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:57 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saw him do a panel in the early 90's at a Fantasy Fair in Dallas (or maybe Ft Worth). Christ, he seemed so old then - I'm glad he got to live another 20 years to see where animation would end up heading. I still have an autographed still from Jason & the Argonauts somewhere. I was such a huge fan of his stuff as a kid (and as an adult) and it meant so much to me to have it pinned up on my wall surrounded by Dead Kennedys and The Cure posters.
posted by item at 3:03 PM on May 7, 2013


He was one of the greats, a master of his craft, and by all accounts I've heard a great guy. RIP.
posted by Gelatin at 3:11 PM on May 7, 2013


Ray Harryhausen called me at home once. I had been putting together a book proposal about Merian C. Cooper (Harryhausen had worked on Mighty Joe Young with him) and I contacted some online magazine that had done a Harryhausen feature . They said to send them a letter and they would forward it. I did. Weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, the phone rings. "This is Ray Harryhausen," the voice on the other end said. !!!! I had a nice chat with him--after he asked me to call him back. In London. The call ended up costing me something like $75 but it was well worth it. I still have the transcript of the interview. Someone beat me to the book but I did use some of my Harryhausen quotes in a magazine article I wrote about King Kong.
posted by Man-Thing at 3:13 PM on May 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


92, well, that's a good long run. RIP Ray.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:32 PM on May 7, 2013


RIP Ray. The clip they showed on the news tonight of the skeleton army will haunt my dreams tonight. Those fuckers have terrified me since I was a kid because how can you kill something when it is already dead?
posted by essexjan at 3:42 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




Harryhausen and Jim Henson were pretty much the two people most responsible for how much I enjoyed my childhood.

.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:17 PM on May 7, 2013


.

He remains one of my favourite film-makers. I rewatch at least the Sinbad films every few years.

(And he introduced me to Caroline Monroe, my first ever crush)

I can highly recommend the docco Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan to anyone interested in the behind the scenes stuff.
posted by Mezentian at 4:19 PM on May 7, 2013


Those fuckers have terrified me since I was a kid because how can you kill something when it is already dead?

Skeletons? If you don't have a cleric handy you need a blunt weapon.

Without Ray we'd probably never have Star Wars (and Lucas said so), and I reckon D&D too.

.
posted by Mezentian at 4:22 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite Harryhausen film is "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad". (Dr. Who is in it, for one thing.)

Not to be that guy but Patrick Troughton was in Eye of the Tiger too.

(I also spelt Munro wrong. Silly me).
posted by Mezentian at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2013


This is the scene you need to watch

Wow. When I clicked on that (skeleton battle) link and the sound started up, it (50 years old this year) fit so perfectly into the brand-new ambient mix I was already listening to, I couldn't tell until the guy yelled 'Destroy Them'. Bernard Herrmann was also a bit advanced.

Pretty amazing that for a brief time, Hollywood gave such visionaries a chance. Jason was the first live-action, animation-added movie I saw, and - exciting! Little did I suspect how involved it was to create, and how inspiring and prophetic it would be.
posted by Twang at 4:44 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by immlass at 4:46 PM on May 7, 2013


.

The battling skeleton armies gave me nightmares in my youth. Maybe I'll get to enjoy one of them tonight.
posted by tribalspice at 4:51 PM on May 7, 2013


.

I love how Ray Bradbury portrays Harryhausen in his novel 'A Graveyard for Lunatics'. You can really feel Ray's childlike love for movies and effects.

My brother and my friend's brother do stop motion, and they're still inpired by him.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:52 PM on May 7, 2013


^____^
| o, (..)o,
[ (^^^^^^)
posted by louche mustachio at 4:59 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've done just a bit of stop motion, sure takes persistence.
posted by sammyo at 5:42 PM on May 7, 2013


Another case of the heebee jeebees after I watched the skeleton battle.
^-^
(oo)
[__] < the mechanical owl

.
posted by jabo at 5:43 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:01 PM on May 7, 2013


. · ° º ¤
posted by wanderingmind at 6:08 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by methinks at 6:30 PM on May 7, 2013


This is the scene that absolutely terrified me when I was five (my mum gave my dad hell for taking me to that movie, but I was obsessed with Greek myths, and he loved it when it first came out).

Still makes me jump!

And I'm sure more than one teacher was happy about movies keeping kids interested in the Greek myths.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:32 PM on May 7, 2013


I'll miss you Ray, and continue pretending that Clash of The Titans was never remade.
posted by smoke at 6:36 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a child, the saucers of Earth vs The Flying Saucers absolutely haunted my dreams.

As a teenager, the skeletons of Jason and the Argonauts thrilled the hell out of me.

You were an amazing artist, Ray.

.
posted by SPrintF at 6:52 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by brujita at 6:54 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by sammyo at 6:55 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by marienbad at 7:24 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by wrapper at 7:51 PM on May 7, 2013




.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:11 PM on May 7, 2013


Another thing is that stop motion animation is such a meticulous, demanding, and solitary undertaking that it seems to attract people that are gentle of spirit. I feel like Nick Park is that way, too. Maybe it's because you can't cheat that craft. It doesn't happen without the hours.

I liked Ray. I liked listening to him talk about his work.

Plus, even if dinosaurs aren't the way they were in his films, he gave us a really neat world where they ARE like that.

BTW: I think I remember hearing that the owl was forced on him because of R2D2.
posted by Trochanter at 10:09 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by biffa at 10:25 PM on May 7, 2013


BTW: I think I remember hearing that the owl was forced on him because of R2D2.

So, what you are saying, friend, is that the remake is, in some small way, more true to Ray's vision than the original?

Interestingly, while I looked up Bubo's name I discovered that Ray had pitched a sequel called"Force of the Trojans" in 1984.
Via Ray's website:
This was going to be another Clash of the Titans but because of the advent of the anti-hero and digital effects was thought by distributors to be too old fashioned. The story was a version, with mythological creatures, of Aeneas and his journey after the fall of Troy.
There are a few unmade films listed there.

And this:
DAIRLYLEA DIP COMMERCIAL
Advisor and consultant on animation (a spoof of One Million Years BC) in which a carnivorous prehistoric animal uses a girl to dunk into his dip!


Why, yes, it's on YouTube.
Why, no, I don't think it could get made now. But it made me laugh.
posted by Mezentian at 10:37 PM on May 7, 2013


.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:16 PM on May 7, 2013


Ray Harryhausen was a god. I saw Jason and the Argonauts for the first time when I was seven, I think the very day after I had read a version of it. It was on some obscure cable channel, on a lazy Saturday afternoon and it just floored me. I think I wanted a dragon's teeth so badly for my own skeleton army that I would have traded my soul.

He really was a genius. Check out the stop-motion animation in 7 Faces of Dr Lao, done by Jim Danforth. It came out a year after Jason and the Argonauts and at that time Danforth was Harryhausen's only real rival in American cinema SFX. And the difference in quality of the animations between the two are hugely different. It's not because Danforth's animations are bad, it's just that Ray's are so much better.

Such a bummer.

.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:19 AM on May 8, 2013


The Sinbad, and Argonauts films are two of my favourite old movies. Outstanding work.

RIP.
posted by Pouteria at 3:54 AM on May 8, 2013


.
The genius that was Ray Harryhausen was that he saw... in... slow... motion. All the physics, the mechanics of movement and expression were working inside him as he worked one frame at a time. When I saw my first stop motion done by him, and realised how it had been done, I knew that what he did transcended the genius.

Thanks for Peter Jackson, Ray.
posted by arzakh at 4:37 AM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by cazoo at 7:12 AM on May 8, 2013


I just watched The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.
I poured a 40 for Ray.
It is a crap movie except for two things:
1. little character touches in the first hour I haven't seen in similar era atomic-monster films.
2. Scared people running through cars in NY. Seen it everywhere, most recently Avengers. If this wasn't the go-to for that type of scene I'll be shocked.

Ray saved this film from being crap.
posted by Mezentian at 8:03 AM on May 8, 2013


In 1991, when I worked at ILM, one of my greatest thrills every day occurred when I walked past the huge signed picture of the cyclops from "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad". The signature, of course, was Ray Harryhausen's, he was one of the most important hero figures of my life. I can palpably remember the first time I saw Talos from JATA, it scared the daylights out of me in a way that very little had up until that point. RIP, good sir, you were a Titan of the visual effects world and you will be sorely missed.

.
posted by dbiedny at 3:41 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice piece on Harryhausen from Alex Pappademas at Grantland. A tribute to the godfather of visual effects in 24 frames
posted by Trochanter at 1:27 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older The Rain in Westeros Falls Mainly in the...   |   The red planet or else! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post