Ray Harryhausen was one of the greatest special effects masters of all time. He was the remarkable genius that brought many characters and creatures to life whether it was skeletons involved in sword fights or aliens on the Moon. Harryhausen was an international man, born American with a German background, who lived in London, he was often called upon whenever a great film that needed his special effects talents called. Some of his creature special effects were best remembered in films such as MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, THE 7Th VOYAGE OF SINBAD, FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH. His legacy of special effects had a huge appeal to Steven Spielberg, George Lucus, James Cameron and others.
It’s hard to pick the best special effects film of Ray Harryhausen, but 20 Million Miles TO EARTH was quite an amazing science fiction film. A rocketship returns from a trip from space but crash lands in the ocean near Rome after developing mechanical trouble and an alien egg hatches and grows up a giant violent creature which brings destruction to Rome. One epic scene is where an elephant battles the creature from space. There are so many excellent special effects scenes in this film to highlight the awesome talents of Ray Harryhausen.
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG was also quite a classic film as well. The film hoped to cash in on the popularity of the KING KONG films by creating a new giant gorilla creature. EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS featured some incredible effects as well. FIRST MEN IN THE MOON featured men from a late 1800’s trip to the Moon encountering many strange alien creatures in this marvelous movie based on the H.G. Wells novel.
Ray Harryhausen cast a giant shadow on bettering special effects in movies, only raising the bar for new generations to use the best of computer technology for what Ray Harryhausen once had to achieve using only clay models and stop action photography among other simple skills.
If next year’s Academy Awards presentation ceremony doesn’t offer some tribute to this special effects pioneer, then it would be a huge surprise. Ray Harryhausen was a true legend.