Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Happy 90th Birthday Ray Harryhausen!
The films of special effects master Ray Harryhausen had a gigantic influence on me when I was a kid. I carefully searched the television listings in our local newspapers every day in anticipation for one of his amazing movies. Each of them held me spellbound.
Ray's One Million Years B.C., in particular, with its startlingly realistic and charismatic dinosaurs, affected me so intensely at the age of ten that I began to pursue a serious life-long passion for paleontology which continues to this day. The books of two of my favorite authors, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and the adventures of classical mythology, were all brought to epic life by Ray's magic touch.
Although I believe It Came from Beneath the Sea was the first Harryhausen production I ever saw (which forever fascinated me with the octopus), it was The 7th Voyage of Sinbad that sealed the deal for good. The Snake Woman, giant two-Headed Roc, a monstrous fire-breathing Dragon, and the horned, satyr-like Cyclops completely captured my imagination. The wholly original Cyclops of that film remains my favorite Harryhausen creature. I drew pictures of him over and over again in my meager attempt to relive the movie in the days before home-video and dvds.
Later this year, my own The Seven Voyages of Sinbad will be published. Although the book is based more exactly upon the original tales of the Arabian Nights, there is much inspiration from Maestro Harryhausen lurking in its colorful pages.
Happy 90th Birthday, sir.
Don't know where I'd be without you.