ADIOS RAY

So sorry to turn this new blog into an obituary site too (I gave up on my old blog at alexcox.com because it was becoming too much of an R.I.P. page). But given our current flurry of pre-pre-procution on BILL, a super-low-budget science fiction film with miniature animated reptiles, it’s obligatory and appropriate to say goodbye to Ray Harryhausen, who died today at 92 years.

I enjoyed all his films, starting as a little nipper with THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON. Ray was the student of Willis O’Brien (conincidentally, the first film I ever saw was GOLIATH VERSUS THE DRAGON, featuring Obie’s last dinosaur) and Phil Tippett and the other visual effects genii I’ve worked with were Ray’s students. Twenty years or so ago I was invited to a film festival in Manchester and had the pleasure of meeting Ray, then in his early seventies. He had become one of those expatriate Americans who left the US because they thought the taxes were too high and loved Margaret Thatcher (DING! DONG!). It didn’t matter: it was impossible not to admire him for his history and the quality of his work. And he was no worse than those despicable limeys who went to live in Spain for the cheap rent. low tax, and red wine. No one is innocent.

Let’s toast to Ray, and his amazing, innovative VFX: from the field of skeletons rising from the earth in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS to his resurrection of Obie’s cowboys versus dinosaurs Western VALLEY OF GWANGI (not a bad picture!). Today I learned that years ago, Ray, like Margaret Matheson and I, attempted to do an authentic film version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS – you can see the one test he shot here – only to be thwarted by the same invidious copyright regime which Spielberg found it so easy to buy his way around.

No matter. To the Skies Avaunt, Ray.

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