QUICK CUTS: Ray Harryhausen Favorites
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, and William Carl
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Welcome to another edition of QUICK CUTS. Today we remember Ray Harryhausen, who passed away last week at 92. I think we can all agree that when it comes to stop-motion animation in the movies, Harryhausen was a true artist and visionary. No one did it better than him.
Earlier in the week, L.L. Soares and I did a formal tribute to Mr. Harryhausen. To honor him today in a special edition of QUICK CUTS, we look back at some of our favorite Ray Harryhausen movies, monsters, and scenes. Joining us this time is William Carl. Okay, gentlemen, let’s get started.
What’s your favorite Ray Harryhausen movie and why?
WILLIAM CARL: VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969).
ARRUDA: One of my favorites
SOARES: Mine, too.
CARL: Not only did this movie have cowboys and circuses, but it also had dinosaurs! This was like a mash-up project created by my pre-pubescent mind at about eight years of age. The women were beautiful, the men were rugged, and the scenes of the monster rampaging were very well executed. I still watch it at least once a year, and I still cheer on the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
L.L. SOARES: T. Rex, yeah! Marc Bolan rocked.
CARL: Not the band. The dinosaur in the movie.
ARRUDA: THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) is my favorite. I love the Cyclops, the colorful print, the rousing music score by Bernard Herrmann, Nathan Juran’s brisk direction, and Torin Thatcher’s performance as the evil wizard. I just like the whole package. And of course Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects are some of his best.
SOARES: I think my favorite one is 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957). I’ve just always been a fan of the creature from Venus, the Ymir, and not only does this movie revolve around Harryhausen’s creation, but you really care about the stop-motion monster by the end, unlike some of his other creatures.
ARRUDA: Next up: What’s your favorite Harryhausen creature and why?
I have to go with the Ymir from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, as well.
CARL: Nice choice
SOARES: Copy cat!
ARRUDA: Followed closely by the Cyclops in 7TH VOYAGE and Medusa in CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981).
SOARES: What are you doing picking more than one? This is QUICK CUTS! Our answers are supposed to be brief.
ARRUDA: I know. I just can’t help myself.
But the Ymir is my favorite because it’s a cool monster, an alien from Venus. We don’t see too many of those, which makes him unique. I would have loved to have seen him in more movies. He deserved a better fate!
CARL: I agree with you. This is a tough choice, but like you guys, I would say the Ymir from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957). The expressions Harryhausen managed to create on this beastie’s face made it seem all the more terrible when it is killed. You can see all the pain and fear in its eyes. Plus, it was completely unique and not based upon any other existing monster like a dinosaur or a mythical creature. It was a true original.
SOARES: As I stated before, the Ymir is my favorite as well.
I also really like the movies Harryhausen worked on that revolve around mythology, especially JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) and the SINBAD movies. He created some great creatures for these!
ARRUDA: See, it’s not easy picking just one, is it?
Last question. What’s your favorite Harryhausen movie scene and why?
SOARES: The obvious one is the battle between Jason and the skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. But that might be a little too obvious. I also liked scenes in the Sinbad movies where creatures fought each other, like the Centaur vs. the Griffin in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973), or the Cyclops vs. the Dragon in THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD.
CARL: Oh, my favorite scene was definitely the scene in VALLEY OF GWANGI, where the cowboys rope and capture the dinosaur.
ARRUDA: Yep, this is a very exciting scene.
CARL: It’s a scene that is still thrilling today in its weird mixture of action, western, horror, and sci-fi elements. Come on, we have rodeo cowboys roping a huge monster like it was a calf. Plus, for sheer expertise, this scene is flawless in its animation execution and its combination with the live footage. Those lassos are animated in half and real in half, but it all flows so seamlessly you really buy into the ridiculous notion that these guys are roping a dino! I think I need to go watch this again right now.
SOARES: Sit back down. We’re not finished yet!
CARL: But I can hear dino roaring already!
ARRUDA: We’re almost done.
Well, obvious or not, my favorite scene is the sword fight between Jason and his men and the skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. It’s probably the most ambitious scene Harryhausen ever created. It’s fascinating to watch, and intense to boot.
Second would be—.
SOARES: Second? Who said anything about second?
ARRUDA: — the Medusa scene from CLASH OF THE TITANS. I really don’t like this movie all that much, but this scene is one of Harryhausen’s best. Eerily lit, with an ultra-creepy Medusa slithering about, it makes me pine for an all-out Harryhausen horror film, of which, sadly, there is none.
SOARES: Third? You’re cheating!
ARRUDA: — is the giant crab scene in MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961), which is a riveting sequence.
Sorry, I couldn’t limit myself. There are just too many Harryhausen gems.
SOARES: Are you through now?
ARRUDA: Yep, I’m done. Hey, where did Bill go?
(William Carl’s seat is empty)
SOARES: Looks like he left early for his T-Rex date.
ARRUDA: Hmm. I just thought of another question. Which Harryhausen creation would you most want to have lunch with?
SOARES: A better question would be which Harryhausen creation would most want to have you for lunch!
ARRUDA: True. On that note, let’s grab some food. I’m hungry. I’m in the mood for a giant crab salad sandwich.
SOARES: I’m on a diet. I’ll just have soup and Krakens.
© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares and William D. Carl