Ray Harryhausen: Stop Motion Master in Live Action

by Nick Meier

For my first post I wanted to write a litte bit about Ray Harryhausen, the undisputed master of stop motion and a huge influence of mine. I recently re-watched my favorite of Harryhausen’s Sinbad films, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973). As a cult film buff I really enjoyed the casting, with John Phillip Law (Barbarella/Diabolik) as Sinbad, Tom Baker (Dr. Who) as the villain, and Hammer film vet Caroline Munro as the sexy love interest. With any Harryhausen film the main attraction are the creatures and this film has some of the more interesting of the Sinbad series.

First up is the sorcerer Koura’s minion, the Homunculus. Two of these gargoyle creatures appear in the film, really just the same model repainted. It does feature some really nice wings and flying animation.

The second creature to appear is the Figurehead. Koura brings the figurehead of Sinbad’s ship to life and attacks the crew. It has a very cool sculpt and some great interaction with the live action footage where a sailor buries an axe in its chest.

My favorite creature of this movie and probably the most fascinating is the Kali statue. It is featured in two great scenes where it performs a complicated dance, and a great fight scene similar in complexity to the Hydra from Jason and the Argonauts.

The last two creatures are a cycloptic Centaur who battles a Griffin. Both puppets have great features like hair and feathers, and while I think they’re not my absolute favorite Harryhausen creatures, their fight scene is pretty impressive considering how difficult it would be to animate just one of those models, let alone two interacting.

Also, I found a clip of Tim Burton talking about the influence of Harryhausen and this film, and I am sure he has influenced many other Stop Motion Contemporaries of our time.

Until next time — Nick Meier

Nic Meier is a CG Motion Artist and Animator living in the NYC Area and a content contributor to the Stop Motion in NY Blog.

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