Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen

Faster is not always better. Those words are probably considered sinful in a society that seems obsessed with 4G networks, high-speed digital processors, fast cars, and television shows where contestants are given arbitrary time limits to create gourmet meals. However, there is truth behind the cliché “slow and steady wins the race.” Ray Harryhausen‘s work took time. He, nearly single-handed, affected motion picture visual effects and created iconic creatures that would haunt the imaginations of generations of some of the most creative, successful motion picture artists today. If you are reading this article, you probably are well aware of Mr. Harryhausen’s exploits and for those of you who are not – just Google/Netflix him and educate yourselves. His life’s contributions are too many and too important to condense down into a few sentences. What needs to be recognized is that he is a symbol of something that speaks to anyone who is possessed of following their dreams; he decided at a relatively young age what he wanted to do, then did it with such skill that he has transcended motion picture technology to become a legend.

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Battling statues, lassoing dinosaurs, flying high on the back of a horse, watching a two-headed bird hatch, releasing the Kraken, sword-fighting with skeletons, staring into the eyes of Medusa. We will miss Ray Harryhausen, but we will celebrate with his movies forever.

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Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen was a luminary who nurtured the growth of countless imaginations. He was that rare filmmaker who was an active part of the evolution of the art form, taking his place both as the inspired and the inspirational. “When I first saw King Kong in 1933, I wanted to do something in the film business,” said Harryhausen in an interview for the documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan. “Nothing like it had been put on the screen. . . it haunted me for years that, even though it was a little jerky, this creature was amazing. So big. You know, it just left an enormous impression. It wasn’t only the technical expertise, it was the whole production of the film. They took you by the hand from the mundane world of The Depression, and brought you into the most outrageous fantasy that’s ever been put on the screen. It really set me off on my career.” That experience led directly to him pursuing a passion that would thrill millions. From The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms to 20 Million Miles From Earth to the Sinbad movies to The Valley of Gwangi to Clash of the Titans and more. So many films born from a darkened theater in 1933 and one young man’s ingenuity.

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Drinking Games

There’s a handful of new DVD and Blu-ray releases this week, but who really wants a drinking game for the childish Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked or the morose 9/11 drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? So in the interest of fun, we’re dipping into the DVD archives for an old-school movie that could use a drinking game: the original Clash of the Titans from 1981. If the 2010 remake left you cold, or if you’re eagerly anticipating this week’s release of Wrath of the Titans, now’s your chance to experience the original in its full, sweaty, stop-motion glory. Enhance the experience by getting your hands on some Kraken beer or Kraken rum so you can release your own titan of drunkenness.

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For those of you new to the column, I am revisiting formative events in my life that have made me what I am today: A Special Effects Make Up Artist searching for relevance in the 21st Century. I left my home in a suburb of Gretna, Louisiana, traveled to Valencia, California where I attended the California Institute of the Arts. I am nineteen… Being in college, in California, in 1981, was like being in the front seat of an incredible roller coaster. Unlike how it was in New Orleans, where I would be lucky if I was able to get a hold of a genre magazine like Cinefantastique because it was not consistently available in news stands, now I felt like I was closer to “the hub” than ever. Magazines, trade papers, Hollywood poster stores, all were up to date with what was happening in motion pictures. There was also the benefit of being in one of the two (or three) “preview” cities for new films. Altered States, for instance, had opened in late November rather than at Christmas time when it opened wide, nationally. This, for a fan and initiate to Make Up Effects, was like being at ground zero.

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For those new to the column: I’m tracing the formative events in my life that made me what I am today: A Special Effects Make Up Artist, searching for relevance in the 21st Century…At this point in my life, I am fourteen years old… Just off the corner of Royal Street and St. Ann Street in the French Quarter, there was a white building with green shutters framing tall windows. Stacked in the windows, peering out like eyeless sentinels were rows and rows of Don Post Monster Masks. No longer just two dimensional, black and white images in the back pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, they were there, in three-dimensions, painted in their garish colors. I was at the right place, alright: The Vieux Carre Hair Shop. Inside, two gentlemen greeted me. The first one was roughly thirty; he had a fringe of dark hair circling his baldpate and was mustached. This was Bob Saussaye. The other was a dapper older gentleman with a kind face; this was the owner of the store and Bob’s father, Herb Saussaye. Herb was more than the owner of the best-known theatrical wig and make up store in New Orleans. He was more than a knowledgeable make up artist. He was Willy Wonka, and I had just stepped into his factory.

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Shannon Shea has done special effects work on over sixty films. From Evil Dead II to Predator. From Dances With Wolves to Jurassic Park. From In the Mouth of Madness to Sin City. Every week he delves into his personal and professional history to tell the story of how he became a monster that makes monsters. So there I was, in a small conference room in Woodland Hills, California on a warm February afternoon in 2009. I knew that the meeting would go long, and I would have to spend at least an hour driving home to Los Angeles. Sitting next to me was Mark Dippe, Industrial Light and Magic alumnus and director of the movie Spawn, and across from me sat Dean Cundey, the guy that not only shot all of John Carpenter’s early movies, but also shot Jurassic Park and Back to the Future just to name a few. At the end of the table was producer Tom Kiniston; I had worked with Tom on the Tremors TV series, and next to him was Brian Gilbert, formerly of Stan Winston Productions. The director was Brian Levant, whom I had never worked with personally. However I was familiar with him because I was representing KNB EFX Group, and KNB had made the Turbo-Man Suits for Jingle All The Way, a Mr. Levant effort. We, along with other department heads had gathered to discuss Scooby Doo and the Curse of the Lake Monster. As we began to go through the […]

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Clash of the Titans

Remaking a beloved classic such as the 1981 fantasy epic Clash of the Titans is no small task. It doesn’t help when your story is poorly put together and your film has been retroactively rendered in infuriatingly poor 3D. That said, Louis Leterrier did his best, I suppose.

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Holy hell! Our spy inside the production snapped off a picture of a work-in-progress for one of the Titans! Harryhausen magic is back! Feast your eyes on…The Kraken!

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In this exclusive interview, Cole takes Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi back to their middle school required reading list and gets the skinny on Clash.

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You can breath that huge sigh of relief now. Your favorite mechanical owl will be on screen. For now.

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kong-skull-island.jpg

Variety is reporting this evening that Spirit Pictures is looking to bring to life a brand new King Kong project, which was initially developed by effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

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Gemma Arterton Cast in Clash of the Titans

Arterton, Mikkelsen and Davalos are all strapping on their togas for Leterrier’s remake of the classic stop-motion film. Plus, you’ll never guess who won’t be appearing in it.

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Clash of the Titans

It came as no surprise to hear from First Showing that The Incredible Hulk director, Louis Leterrier, is moving on to his next project, a remake of the classic Clash of the Titans.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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