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Vintage Video:: thanks for being awesome, Ray Harryhausen!


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I read today that Ray Harryhausen died. Now that is not a name that I was immediately familiar with but he was a major influence in my childhood.

I grew up in a house full of boys in the seventies.  Our garage was full of skateboards, bikes, soccer balls, basketballs, pogo sticks, and at least two homemade go cart in different states of repair.  My mother bought Bactine by the caseload.

If they weren’t playing sports or fixing up the tree house on a Saturday afternoon, they were inside watching a movie featuring the mesmerizing work of  Ray Harryhausen.

My love of Ray’s work began with Mighty Joe Young. This was one of my favorites as it wasn’t as scary as King Kong!

And I loved Mysterious Island and that crazy crab!

But it was his Sinbad/ancient Greece/Rome movies that really got us kids excited! And for good reason!

Oh man, those skeletons! My brothers and I would re-enact this scene so many times one summer after watching it on KPIX.  It is still spooky!

Ray was a true genius and transformed special effects before we had computer generated abilities. How did he get this wonderful outlook and passion for his career?  Why, his parents, of course! YAY! Ray once said,

‘My obsession with fantasy has been lifelong, growing during my formative years and being taken to new heights by novels, paintings and of course films, and I was always encouraged by my parents.  They nurtured this unusual passion in me by taking me to films and theatre, and later enthused about my experiments with marionettes, models and animation, eventually even helping me with productions.  They never tried to discourage me in any way from my obsession, and could just as easily have said, ‘Get out there and be a doctor or a lawyer or follow some other profession that is going to bring you in money’.  Fortunately, they didn’t’.

These movies are so much fun for kids to watch today.  Even against the mind alteringly beautiful special effects of Spiderman and Ironman and all their manly buddies, there is still something utterly wonderful about Ray’s work.  Thank you, Ray, for some amazing memories of hanging with my brothers splayed out on the floor with our chins in our hands mesmerized by your work.

Did you watch any of these films growing up as a kid?

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4 Responses

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  1. Moe says

    Oh, I love his stuff so much. It seemed SO magical to me when I was a kid watching his movies on Saturday mornings. Ok, it still does.

  2. Melissa@Julia's Bookbag says

    His work was THE BEST. Oh how I loved his movies!

  3. Danzel B. says

    Thanks for this post. I was so sad to hear of his passing today.

    • Dottie says

      I felt the same way and had to write this post about it.

      I know this sounds weird, but I’m so delighted to see awesome women say things about these movies, which had a cult following among many men and in a lot of ways were door openers to other sci-fi movies in my mind, which a lot of people consider very male dominated. This makes me just so darn happy.



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