Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Ray Harryhausen

Go To
The master of monsters.

Raymond Frederick Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013) was an American movie visual effects pioneer and genius of German descent.

Inspired by the works of Willis O'Brien (The Lost World and King Kong most notably), he became the most prominent Stop Motion animator in the film industry from The '50s all the way to The '80s and worked on such classics as Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, three Sinbad the Sailor films (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger ), as well as some of the most notable dinosaur films of the pre-Jurassic Park era. A lesser known fact: most of the settings in these films were made using matte painting, another visual effect technique he was a master of.

These adventure / fantasy movies would often be more showcases for Harryhausen's talent than anything else, but this is reason enough to watch them. The man has inspired many special effects artists to this day.

Projects Harryhausen Worked On:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Several of his classic films have been given Comic Book sequels, or adaptations, which include his original sketches as an extra. These include
    • It Came from Beneath the Sea... Again!
    • 20 Million Miles to Earth
    • Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
    • The Elementals - An unproduced Harryhausen Project.
    • Wrath of the Titans

    Film — Live-Action 

    Live Action TV 
  • Many of his effects were reused in famous television series—most notably The Twilight Zone (1959) reusing his Flying Saucers in "To Serve Man".

    Western Animation 
  • Harryhausen's first gig was making shorts for the Army. Infamously, the short How To Build a Bridge had no visuals of soldiers putting the bridge together, and the superiors worried that the soldiers would think the bridges would build themselves!
  • Harryhausen also did several fairy tale adaptations, but few are of note, as they were fully animated Gumby-style shorts.

Homages and Shout Outs:

    Comic Books 
  • George Pérez cited Harryhausen as a chief inspiration for his Wonder Woman run, most notably in the "Challenge of the Gods" story-arc, where the skeleton-army sequence from Jason and the Argonauts is homaged down to the Hydra-teeth.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Army of Darkness features a very Harryhausen-inspired battle sequence with an Army of Skeletons. Some of which were stop motion.
  • The skeleton fight between Brendan Fraser and a bunch of skeletons in The Mummy is acknowledged by the director and art department as a deliberate tribute and throwback to Jason and the Argonauts, right down to looking ever so slightly slapstick.
  • Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams has a skeleton army too; the island itself, full of creatures of varying sizes and natures, wouldn't be out of place in the Harryhausen canon either. Although most of it is done with CGI, it's CGI that is designed to capture the look of stop motion.
  • While it mostly uses the traditional People in Rubber Suits that comes standard with Tokusatsu, Kamen Rider ZO features a stop motion fight with a giant spider monster that is rather Harryhausen-esque.
  • Sinbad: The 5th Voyage is a Genre Throwback to the aforementioned Harryhausen Sinbad movies, going as far as using actual stop motion animation (albeit far more technologically advanced) for the creatures.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is, in many ways, an homage to Harryhausen's body of work, combining the Sinbad and Greek mythology films into a single setting full of giant monsters. Especially in the "Cyclops Island" short included on the home video version: Sinbad's reaction to encountering the one-eyed giants is "Not again!"
  • Pacific Rim, while not directly related, is stated to be a tribute to both Ray Harryhausen and fellow Monster movie creator Ishir⁠ō Honda.
  • Jurassic Park has a scene where the Tyrannosaurus lunges out from cover, grabs a Gallimimus, and shakes it to death in a manner very similar to the titular character from The Valley of Gwangi ambushing a Struthiomimus. This scene was animated by Phil Tippett, a lifelong fan of Harryhausen.

    Live Action Television 
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys did a Jason and the Argonauts story which climaxed with a battle against (CGI) Skeletons in Harryhausen fashion.
  • Scenes from both The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Valley of Gwangi have been used in the Newsflash game on Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

    Multiple Genres 

  • The video for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Burn It Off" is a pastiche of Harryhausen movies, with members of the band chased by CGI versions of his monsters (especially the skeletons) around an island and on a ship.
  • The Hoosiers song "Worried About Ray" is named for him, and the video even features stop-motion creatures reminiscent of Harryhausen's works.

    Video Games 
  • The God of War series draws a lot of inspiration from Harryhausen's movies, namely the Classical Mythology inspired ones. In particular, the second game includes several shout outs, including fighting skeletons while following Jason.
  • The Cyclops in the PlayStation game for Xena: Warrior Princess was quite obviously modeled on the ones from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad complete with a horn on its forehead and (if you use the camera to see its lower body) satyr-like legs.
  • Several Killer Instinct 2 characters pay homage to Harryhausen's movies, notably Spinal and Eyedoll.
  • Age of Mythology has several Greek myth units based directly on Harryhausen's version of them - cyclops, bronze giants and medusa, for example.
  • The giant stone heads at the very beginning of Capcom's Legendary Wings are similar to the head of the Talos statue in Jason and the Argonauts, including the way they turn around.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of SWAT Kats, Bride of the Pastmaster, had two of its three Cyclops adorned with horns on their foreheads like the ones in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
  • Class of the Titans is full of Harryhausen movie shout-outs, starting of course with the title.
  • An episode of The Angry Beavers has them transported to ancient Rome where they face off against a Cyclops that looks Harryhausen-esque, even moving as if stop motion animated.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode Little Gift Shop of Horrors, Harry Claymore animated stop-motion skeletons and a cyclops for the Sword and Sandal film The Voyages of Loinclothiclese. Which is to say he used black magic to bring to life actual-size clay monsters, which turned on him after the advent of computer animation.
    Harry Claymore: Do you really believe someone moves these figures one frame at a time? I'm not a masochist.
  • The horned cyclops appears in South Park's "Imaginationland" trilogy among the evil imaginary characters.

Tropes found in the films Ray Harryhausen worked on:


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Harryhausen Movie



Due to Hercules disobeying the command of the gods, he ends up awakening Talos the bronze man, who begins persuing the Argonauts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / LivingStatue

Media sources: