Ray Harryhausen

Hey MSTies! I went to the Ray Harryhausen exhibit in Edinburgh yesterday and it got me super inspired! They had journal entries, childhood art, concept art, and so many puppets!

I was wondering what all of your favourite Ray Harryhausen movies are. While it’s hard to choose, I think I would have to go with Clash of the Titans since it’s the one I watched the most as a kid. How about you?

Also, enjoy some pictures from the exhibit! If you like these, I have more!


Cool beans, love the pics. Thanks for sharing.

As for my favorite, without a doubt, Jason and the Argonauts. I grew up with that one, and as a kid, it was one of the coolest, most breathtaking movies I’d ever seen. The fight with the army of skeletons… wow.

And it still impresses, it’s one I like to revisit from time to time.

But yeah, I enjoyed Clash of the Titans as well, 20 Million Miles to Earth, and oh man, The Valley of Gwangi, saw that at the drive-in, and what kid from the '60s wouldn’t love cowboys vs. dinosaurs?


Clash of the Titans was one of the movies I can remember seeing in theaters when I was very young and while it’s not peak Harryhausen, I really dug it. I still think the fight with Medusa is really effective and tense. Never get that rattle sound outta my head. :sweat_smile:


The skeleton duel scene in Seventh Voyage of Sinbad coupled with Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack is probably my favorite Harryhausen scene.


By the way, I highly recommend Ray Bradbury’s novel A Graveyard for Lunatics, where thinly fictionalized versions of he and Ray Harryhausen (who his his real life cousin!) solve a murder mystery at the studio while Harryhausen is working on The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.


Such a cool looking exhibition! Thanks for sharing.

Jason and the Argonauts is my favourite, the fight with the skeleton army is fantastic. But I fondly remember seeing Earth vs. the Flying Saucers too, which until seeing the exhibit website I didn’t know was a Harryhausen.

I liked the video at the exhibition website too, especially when one of the contributors says “I think one of the joys of stop motion is you always know it’s a puppet. But you think, yeah, I know that’s a puppet, but wow!”


I coveted that owl so much when I was wee. I’m happy-jealous you got to see this exhibit!


That’s awesome, I didn’t know it was on. I’ll pop along this week and check it out. :grinning:

My favourite is probably still Jason and the Argonauts, especially the skeletons.


They had two Bubos!


Few things made me happier as a kid than stumbling upon a Harryhausen flick on late night TV.


I felt that way with Dark Crystal. In fact, I usually forget they’re puppets!


First off, sorry for the belated contribution to this thread. I just saw it!

Secondly, may I just say how jealous I am that you got to see this? And do you have more pictures by any chance? Ray Harryhausen is probably one of my all-time favorite movie creators. It’s very hard for me to pick a favorite out of the movies of his that I’ve seen; there are so many amazing shots to pick from. I credit Clash of the Titans with giving me my love of mythology, as well as Jason and the Argonauts; both of those movies were astonishingly well done (Jason perhaps more so for reasons I’m going to get into in a minute), but 20 Million Miles to Earth with the Ymir (side note; Harryhausen re-used the head from that model for the Kraken in Titans, so if you’re wondering why that face might’ve looked familiar and you’ve seen other Harryhausen films, that’s why!) was so amazing, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms had that absolutely amazing shot of the titular beast picking up a cop by the HEAD and eating him!

Harryhausen was an amazingly talented man and really, when you think about it, he was basically the forefather of modern CGI. He was inspired at a young age by seeing the 1933 King Kong and worked up the courage to show some home films he’d made using the stop-motion technique to Willis O’Brien, who did the stop-motion animation for King Kong, then later got the chance to work with him on Mighty Joe Young, a softer version of King Kong with a happier ending. Then Harryhausen got the chance to make his own films, and that’s where he really got the chance to shine, but it wasn’t until Jason and Titans that you REALLY saw what he could do, which is made all the more amazing when you consider that Harryhausen almost inevitably worked alone in making these sequences and they took MONTHS to make.

As an example, look at probably the most famous scene in Jason; the fight with the skeletons. Making that one, probably ten or twelve minute long sequence was a PROCESS. First the actors had to learn a choreographed series of movements against trained swordsmen, until they had them memorized. Then the same series of movements were performed against thin air, which was the raw footage Harryhausen had to work with. Then came the truly hard part; putting the skeletons in, and this is where Harryhausen quickly realized the enormity of what he was trying to pull off. With seven skeletons, oftentimes with three, four, or even five of them in the shot at the same time, the amount of incremental movements he’d have to make to capture even ten seconds of film quickly became astronomical, much less ten or twelve minutes of film! Each skeleton had joints at the head, arms, legs, neck, elbows, knees, ankles, etc… even thinking about the math makes me dizzy, and God forbid you get interrupted, because that could ruin literally DAYS of work if you forget whether a skeleton’s arm was moving forward or backward…

Titans also showcases Harryhausen’s talent; that one scene with Medusa is utterly amazing, with her snaky hair writhing and tail rattling… plus the lighting effects, which most people don’t think about but which Harryhausen had to consider, played an incredible part in making that scene as tense as it was. The flickering firelight from the fire on the altar is the sole source of illumination, and makes it extremely difficult to animate the scene; Harryhausen actually invented a rotating wheel which would simulate the dancing light cast by the fire to deal with the problem.

Harryhausen sadly did not earn much of the recognition he should have until much later; he was finally granted a special achievement Oscar for his work, given to him by none other than Ray Bradbury in 1992, years after he had retired from film work. He’s also one of the few film technicians with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (not many can lay claim to that achievement). Directors like Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro have called him an inspiration for their work. He was an amazing man who contributed so much to filmmaking, and is badly missed by at least me.

RIP sir.

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Jason and the Argonauts and The 7 Voyages of Sinbad are on Plex.

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Jason and the Argonauts. It was on TV quite often when I was a kid. The VFX are still impressive by today’s standards.

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I actually got to see his Oscar! I’ll post more pics when I’m not on my phone.

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That is badass!

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Here are some more pictures!

And of course, his Oscar.


This looks amazing is it still in Edinburgh? Wish I’d seen you’re post earlier.

It’s there until February!

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Great I was just looking it up. Thank you for posting this as I would of missed it otherwise. Is there are merchandise to buy?