Visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen (Photo: Everett Collection)
In 1963, Don Chaffey's "Jason and the Argonauts," magically brought the ancient Greek myth to vibrant life on the big screen. But the movie was only made possible by the groundbreaking work of legendary visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen.
Sadly, Harryhausen passed away in May of this year. But even though CGI and motion capture have revolutionized special effects, Harryhausen's stop-motion modeling magic has proven to be timeless. In honor of "Jason and the Argonauts" turning 50 today, we've highlighted some of Harryhausen's most iconic creations in an animated form he'd probably appreciate.Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) celebrates its 50th anniversary today, and almost as enduring as the tale of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece is the iconic battle between Jason and seven menacing skeletons, all painstakingly crafted and animated by Harryhausen and his team.
"Mighty Joe Young" (1949) was about a giant ape in a confusing city… hey, sound familiar? In his first film gig, Harryhausen worked with mentor and "King Kong" animator Willis O'Brien to bring another big movie ape to life.
Based off of a short story by Harryhausen's buddy Ray Bradbury, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953) featured a terrifying dinosaur awoken from its icy slumber as it attacked Manhattan. The Beast would inspire another film about a giant lizard monster, only this time, it was headed for Tokyo!
In addition to getting the titular aircraft in "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" (1956) airborne, Harryhausen animated the destruction caused by the saucers and the aliens that piloted them.
The extraterrestrial beast in "20 Million Miles to Earth" (1957) may not be as instantly iconic as some of Harryhausen's other creature creations, but is still memorable for its destructive rampage through Rome.
"One Million Years B.C." (1966) is completely historically inaccurate (no, humans and dinosaurs never lived together), but that didn't make Harryhausen's human-hungry dinos any less scary and exciting.
"The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" (1974) was the second of the Sinbad films that Harryhausen worked on, and definitely had the coolest animated monsters, from a six-armed Kali idol to an evil centaur.
"Clash of the Titans" (1981) was Harryhausen's last film, and featured some of his most iconic monsters yet — the hissing Medusa, the menacing Kraken. The film was remade in 2010 with a slew of 3D special effects, but there's something endearingly everlasting about Harryhausen's work.
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- Ray Harryhausen