Ray Harryhausen, R.I.P.

Ray-Harryhausen

The great Ray Harryhausen passed away Tuesday. He was 92.

I have a lifetime’s worth of fond memories of his work in stop-motion animation: Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad trilogy, Clash of the TitansMysterious Island, and so many more. He meant the world to me before I even knew his name. I have a feeling it was that way for lots of Monster Kids, who only learned who Harryhausen was years — maybe even decades — after his films had already burned themselves indelibly into their minds.

I loved the sense of awe and wonder that emanated from his best work: Talos the living statue from Jason and the Argonauts, the cyclops vs. dragon fight in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the Ymir in 20 Million Miles to Earth, Medusa in Clash of the Titans, Joe in Mighty Joe Young, the enormous cephalopod in Mysterious Island, the centaur vs. griffin fight in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. God, I could keep listing things until dawn. Everything he created was magic.

The Sinbad movies were my favorite of his oeuvre. (One of my earliest moviegoing memories is of seeing 7th Voyage during an early-1970s re-release at a New York City movie theater with my grandmother and brother. I cried when it was time to leave, because I didn’t want the experience to end.) The Sinbad movies launched a thousand daydreams of my own adventures with magic and monsters, and set me on the path to becoming the writer I am today — a job where I’m allowed to continue those same daydreams. So thank you, Ray Harryhausen, for everything you gave us. They just don’t make movies like yours anymore, and I think we’re all the poorer for it.

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