Ray Harryhausen

May 08, 2013 | 2:24 p.m.

Ray Harryhausen: Pixar’s Pete Docter on the monster king

Characters in Pixar's "Monster Inc." dine at Harryhausens. Credit: Pixar
In the 2001 Pixar movie “Monsters, Inc.,” Mike, the one-eyed green orb voiced by Billy Crystal, takes his scaly, snake-haired girlfriend Celia out for sushi at a local haunt called Harryhausen’s. The name of the restaurant was a nod to a man who influenced “Monsters, Inc.” director Pete Docter — special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who died Tuesday in London at age 92. Before the kind of computer animation pioneered at Pixar became Hollywood’s standard tool for crafting its fantasies, Harryhausen used the methodical, frame-by-frame technique of stop-motion animation to place dinosaurs in New York City in 1953’s “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” to pit Jason against an army of skeleton warriors in “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963), and to release the kraken in the 1981 version of “Clash of the Titans.” It was an approach that captured the imaginations […]
May 07, 2013 | 7:10 p.m.

Ray Harryhausen: A tribute to the king of featured creatures

Model animator Ray Harryhausen, who brought monsters and dinosaurs and all manner of critters to life, frame by frame, in feature films from “Mighty Joe Young” (1949) to “Clash of the Titans” (1981), died Tuesday in London at the age of 92. Inspired by Willis O’Brien, who animated “King Kong,” he was himself the stated inspiration for generations of sci-fi and fantasy filmmakers. And he scared a lot of little kids, which I know for a fact. It’s not quite right to call his passing the end of an era, because Harryhausen’s era predeceased him by some time, buried in an avalanche of increasingly sophisticated computerized special effects from which the actual hand of man has been all but erased. To be sure, it was his own goal to make his effects invisible, to seamlessly mate his miniatures with the […]
May 07, 2013 | 1:49 p.m.

Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

Ray Harryhausen poses with an enlarged model of Medusa from his 1981 film "Clash of the Titans" at the Myths and Legends Exhibition at the London Film Museum on June 29, 2010. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Ray Harryhausen, the beloved special effects wizard known for his pioneering efforts in stop-motion animation, the painstaking technique that requires animators to manipulate a puppet’s movement frame-by-frame, died Tuesday in London at the age of 92. Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Harryhausen began crafting his own versions of prehistoric creatures as a young boy. The pastime turned into a profession, and with films including “Mighty Joe Young” (1949), “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963) and “One Million Years B.C.” (1966), Harryhausen brought wild creatures to life in adventurous worlds, mesmerizing a generation who would be inspired to make their own films, both live-action and animated. One ardent admirer was a young Tim Burton, who told Hero Complex earlier this year that as a boy, he knew the work of Harryhausen before that of Orson Welles. “I remember seeing ‘Jason and the […]
Nov. 11, 2011 | 5:27 p.m.

‘Mysterious Island': The past (and future) of Jules Verne classic

Mysterious Island and Dwayne Johnson (featured image)
It was 137 years ago that Jules Verne first took his readers to the strange South Pacific environs of “The Mysterious Island” but the bookshelf sensation still clearly casts a spell in Hollywood — just consider the upcoming “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” a liberal updating of the classic tale packaged as a sequel to the 2008 film “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D,” which also mined Verne for adventure concepts. Verne’s imagination has launched plenty of Hollywood projects — “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Journey to the Moon” and “Around the World in 80 Days” spring to mind — and “The Mysterious Island” has been visited often by studios in search of screen spectacle. Sometimes the actual novel itself doesn’t survive the trip to the screen — a 1929 part-talkie/part-silent film adaptation with Lionel Barrymore had almost had nothing to do with the original […]
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