Blu-ray: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan

RayBlu1STUDIO: Arrow Video/MVD | DIRECTOR: Gilles Penso
RELEASE DATE: 6/28/16 | PRICE: DVD $14.99, Blu-ray $14.95
SPECS: NR | 97 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Stereo 2.0 | subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, Gilles Penso’s 2011 documentary on the career of the movie industry’s godfather of stop-motion animation, is the latest and most comprehensive one on the market, beating out both 1986’s Aliens, Dragons and Me and the 1998 TV doc The Harryhausen Chronicles.

Special effects master Ray Harryhausen and a trio of his most skeletal creations.

Special effects master Ray Harryhausen and a trio of his most skeletal creations.

First off comes the requisite biographical breakdown of the late Harryhausen’s career, from his apprenticeship with King Kong’s creator Willis O’Brien and beginnings with his fairy tale shorts, through four decades of fantasy, mythology and monsters films, including The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, It Came From Beneath The Sea, the Sinbad films, Mysterious Island and, finally, 1981’s Clash of the Titans.

Notably, the feature-length docu leaves no doubt as to Harryhausen’s seminal influence on modern-day special effects, what with its interviews and testimonials from Hollywood’s biggest directors (Spielberg, Cameron, Peter Jackson), F/X legends (Phil Tippet, Dennis Muren), respected animators (Henry Sellick, Nick Park) and even a couple of actresses whose tightly-bodiced bodies were on the receiving end of Ray’s creation’s claws (Martine Beswick, Caroline Munroe).

And for the diehards, there’re plenty of bonus and extended interviews along with recent footage of Harryhausen’s most famous stop-motion models, all of which are still cool-looking despite years of natural decay. And check out Jason and the Argonauts’ Talo—he’s still scary as hell!


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.