Ray Harryhausen passed away this week at age 92.
This was one of those moments when you knew that your childhood is forever gone.
Everything is an evolution. Everything is growth and development. To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. And for the SFX industry of Hollywood, Ray Harryhausen built the bus and did the driving.
From one of my all-time favorites- The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. You almost believed you could reach out and touch ’em… before they stomped you.
I remember an interview he did back in the 90s, talking about how he got started. He’d seen the original King Kong in the theater about a dozen times, studying all the movements, and started building models in the garage with his brother and some friends, working on how to get it right. You know the rest.
It’s really hard to explain the impact his films had on you. Not to mention that at least three generations of FX guys grew up under his influence. Before there could be Jurassic Park you had to have The Valley of Gwangi. Before there was Mighty Joe Young, there was… Mighty Joe Young. Yeah, sometimes it was still cheesy and out of sync, but in the hazy, halcyon days of stop-motion animation, this was the shit! This was how it was done and no one did it better. And you always left the theater wondering if you could learn how do it, just like he did.
And that skeleton fight from Jason & the Argonauts is still the standard by which all others are measured. It was all painstakingly and lovingly done by hand, and it was AWESOME! Fuck that Burly Brawl mess the Wachowski Bros. made of Matrix: Reloaded.
Even as recent as that crap-tacular Clash of the Titans remake a couple of years ago, he was still consulting on films, or at the very least getting credited for his contributions. Ray Harryhausen was one of those men whose accomplishments and achievements are simply too many to mention or give proper credit to, because his impact went beyond what could be measured but will always be felt and remembered. And that’s truly the hallmark of a legend.