Ray Harryhausen: The Film-Maker Who Made The Impossible Possible  

Dangerous Minds

If it wasn’t a monster movie, then it wasn’t worth watching. That was my narrow view of films when I was a child. There was the usual list of werewolves, and vampires, and stitched-together cadavers from Frankenstein’s lab, but there was nothing quite as thrilling as seeing Ray Harryhausen’s name on a film.

Harryhausen’s name meant memorable special effects that made any film extraordinary. Before VHS or DVD recorders, we memorized those key scenes to replay in our heads, and discuss at our leisure. The ghoulish, resurrected skeletons that fought Jason and the Argonauts; the Rhedosaurus that tore up New York in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; the Terradactyl  that terrorized Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.; the sinewed goddess Khali that fought Sinbad; these were memories that made many a childhood special – mine included.

It was seeing the original version of King Kong that started Harryhausen off on his career. His ability to duplicate some of Willis O’Brien’s groundbreaking effects led the young Harryhausen to meet and then work with his idol on Mighty Joe Young, in 1949. Their collaboration won an Oscar, and set Harryhausen off on his career.

The Cyclops and Dragon battle sequence from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Raymond Frederick Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013) was an American animator and special effects creator who created a form of stop motion model animation known as “Dynamation”. His works include the animation for Mighty Joe Young (1949) with his mentor Willis H. O’Brien (for which the latter won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects); his first color film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); and Jason and the Argonauts (1963), which featured a sword fight with seven skeleton warriors. His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981), after which he retired.

Christopher Walken can do it all!

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Walken was a dancer in variety and musicals before he became a respected (and much loved) actor starring in such films as The DeerhunterThe Dead ZoneThe Comfort of StrangersThe King of New YorkPulp FictionTrue RomanceThe Prophecy TrilogyWild SideThe AddictionThe FuneralSleepy HollowHairspray, and most recently Turks and Caicos.

It’s fair to say that if Mr Walken’s name is attached to any movie, you know it’s going to be fun—well, at least when he’s on screen. You might not like what happens before or after, but once he appears, you know the movie sings. Who can forget his scenes with Dennis Hopper in True Romance? Or, the casual soft shoe shuffle in King of New York? Or, his bravura dancing to Fat Boy Slim’s promo for “Weapon Of Choice”?

Such is his popularity that when an Internet forum ran a hoax Christopher Walken for President campaign, it seemed almost believable, and I’m sure there would have been quite a few people out there who would have given a big ‘X’ to Mr. W. had it been real.

Walken is so likable, so watchable, and seems such an interesting character (he likes cats and pineapple, and his mother came from Glasgow, where he still has relatives).

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The Planet of the Apes 1968: Behind the Scenes 

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Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, Kim Hunter and Linda Harrison. It was the first in a series of five films made between 1968 and 1973, all produced by Arthur P. Jacobs and released by 20th Century Fox.

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The film tells the story of an astronaut crew who crash-land on a strange planet in the distant future. Although the planet appears desolate at first, the surviving crew members stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes have assumed the role of the dominant species and humans are mute creatures wearing animal skins.

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Some set scenes from the movie:

The human spaceship crash lands in a desert lake.  The lake used in the film was Lake Powell on the Utah Arizona border.

The spaceship model.

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This shot may have been from the sequel, “Beneath the planet of the Apes”

Taylor Kitsch,Lynn Collins
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