Happy Birthday, Ray Harryhausen

Happy Birthday, Ray Harryhausen

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

A very happy 88th to special effects master Ray Harryhausen, known (in case you’ve been living under a bushel) for his stop-motion animation. His films Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad movies, and Clash of the Titans were among my first exposures to cinematic fantasy. In fact, I was so pissed off about Titans that I just about had a stroke right there in the theatre. All due respect to the Ray-man, but I’m just not sure Greek mythology needed to be buggered that hard. I had read the Perseus myth in several versions and loved it passionately, and I thought the Titans version took unnecessary liberties with the subject matter, which in my young idealism made me go all apoplectic an’ shit.

Argonauts did not infurate me thus for two reasons: first, I had not yet read the Jason myth (and still don’t much care for it) and I saw it in a DRIVE IN — it was always so friggin’ difficult to tell what was going on with that damn speaker crackling and whining and all the other distractions of a drive in.

Plus, I was much younger when I saw Jason. Sinbad, I never got hopped up about because I did not know then, and still don’t know, much about Arabian mythology. No, no, it was Clash of the Titans that made me understand how profoundly the universe sought to betray me.

It’s all right, Uncle Ray, I’ve long since forgiven you, and started to appreciate your flicks right around the same time I learned to appreciate John Waters. Sinbad, Titans and Jason remain fixed in my memory as influential visions of rousing, if astonishingly cheesy and magnificently goofy, adventure.

Image from Wikipedia.


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