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Friday, June 29, 2012

Birthday Special: Top 10 Ray Harryhausen Films

Ray Harryhausen (b. June 29, 1920, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.) is one of the single most important names in film visual/special effects and stop-motion animation. An inspiration to generations of film-makers, monster-makers and movie-goers alike. His creations are featured in some of the most seminal sci-fi and monster movies of all time. Ray Harryhausen is particularly important to me and is responsible for my love of classic movie monsters, mythology and dinosaurs. Coincidentally, he also shares a birthday with me! So to celebrate both our birthdays, I thought it would be fitting to post a list of my top 10 favorite films featuring Harryhausen's creatures. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents: Top 10 Ray Harryhausen Films, Enjoy!

#10 Mighty Joe Young (1949) - The original "King Kong" (1933) was one of Ray Harryhausen's  earliest inspirations. It is not surprising that one of the first films he worked on as first technician involved a giant ape. Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and starring Terry Moore as Jill Young, whose pet gorilla is sent to Hollywood and is exploited and mistreated, escapes and runs rampant in the city.
#9 One Million Years B.C. (1966) - Tumak (John Richardson) is banished from his caveman tribe and falls in love with Loana (Raquel Welch) as they face prehistoric monsters.
#8 It Came from Beneath The Sea (1955) - Directed by Robert Gordon. A giant octopus affected by an H-Bomb test terrorizes the California coast!
#7 The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960) - Based on the classic satirical book "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift and directed by Jack Sher, while on a ship to India, Dr. Lemuel Gulliver (Kerwin Matthews) is shipwrecked on an island inhabited by tiny people known as Lilliputians. Later on the island of Brobdingnag, he is considered tin in a land of giants. The movie version directed by Jack Sher features some impressive visual effects work by Ray Harryhausen with early miniature work as well as camera tricks to make Gulliver seem giant.
#6 Mysterious Island (1961) - One of the many adaptations of Jules Verne's classic, this version directed by Cy Endfield, features Herbert Lom as Captain Nemo. When Civil War P.O.W.S are stranded on an island in the South Pacific they encounter giant plants and creatures as a volcano threatens to destroy the island!
#5 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) - A Sci-Fi classic! Directed by Nathan Juran. When the first U.S. spaceship to Venus crash lands in Italy, a giant, reptilian-like creature known as Ymir attacks the city! Ymir is one of Harryhausen's most iconic creatures!
#4 The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) - Directed by Eugène Lourié, a huge dinosaur called a Rhedosaurus is awakened by an Arctic nuclear bomb test and rampages New York City!
#3 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) - Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant) is shrunk by the treacherous Sokurah the Magician (Torin Thatcher) and Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) must search the Island of Colossa, an island full of giant monsters for a magic potion. The first of many Sinbad films, this film features more iconic creatures by Harryhausen including the Cyclops, a fire-breathing dragon and a two-headed vulture!
#2 Jason and the Argonauts (1963) - Directed by Don Chaffey, the great Greek hero Jason (Todd Armstrong) leads a group of adventurers to quest for the Golden Fleece! Jason and the Argonauts features some of the most elaborate special effects by Harryhausen including skeleton warriors, a multi-headed serpent, harpies and Talos, a living bronze giant!
#1 Clash of the Titans (1981) - Desmond Davis directs the epic story of Perseus (Harry Hamlin), who with his trusty Pegasus, battles Medusa and the Kraken to rescue Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker). Among this star-studded cast is Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Claire Bloom as Hera and Burgess Meredith as Ammon. With brilliant and beautiful special effects produced by Ray Harryhausen, it is considered to be his masterpiece. The 2010 remake is nothing but a mockery to Harryhausen's genius!