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Anorak | RIP Ray Harryhausen: photos and memories of the man who made skeletons even more terrifying

RIP Ray Harryhausen: photos and memories of the man who made skeletons even more terrifying

by | 7th, May 2013

Ray Harryhausen Empire Film Awards

RIP Ray Harryhausen, the wizard of stop-motion, who created the special effect in such films as It Came From Beneath the Sea, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. You were 92. And your work was terrifying . In the pre-computer age, the monsters in your films looked hideously real. They were the stuff of childhood nightmares.

The scripts in most of these films were awful. Harryhausen’s monsters made the actors look more wooden still.

 

Press view of Myths and Legends exhibition

The original Medusa figure from the 1981 film Clash Of The Titans.

 

Press view of Myths and Legends exhibition

One of the original seven skeletons which appeared in 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts.

 

 

Press view of Myths and Legends exhibition

Does anyone not find this unsettling?

Ray Harryhausen wrote in Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life:

The climax of the film is the battle with the children of the Hydra’s teeth. When Acetes catches up with Jason he scatters the teeth while calling on the forces of darkness to avenge him of the crime. From out of the ground appear armed skeletons. In the legend it is rotting corpses, but we thought this would give the film a certificate that might have barred children, so we decided on seven skeletons.

Each of the model skeletons was about eight to 10 inches high, and six of the seven were made for the sequence. The remaining one was a veteran from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, slightly repainted to match the new members of the family. When all the skeletons have manifested themselves to Jason and his men, they are commanded by Acetes to “Kill, kill, kill them all”, and we hear an unearthly scream. What follows is a sequence of which I am very proud. I had three men fighting seven skeletons, and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film. This meant at least 35 animation movements, each synchronised to the actors’ movements. Some days I was producing less than one second of screen time; in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months.

It is utterly memorable work. Once seen on a day off school sick, never forgotten.n The Greek classics never looked better…

Just don’t call them monsters:



Posted: 7th, May 2013 | In: Celebrities, Film Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink