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Harryhausen on Horror
Harryhaysen on Horror, The House of Hammer, vol. 1, no. 11, August 1977, pp. 48-50.
- We don't deliberately desire to scare anybody - we design our creatures to fit in harmony with the story and, of course, our forte is the grotesque. That's why our films were classified so many times as horror films, which they weren't. I would call a war film a horror film because in those you see guts split and people being slaughtered, but our films deal with fantasy and are more theatrical than realistic.
- [The skeleton] in Seventh Voyage of Sinbad was more frightening than the seven in Jason and the Argonauts. [...] Because we had seven skeletons I thought we were going to get seven "X" certificates but we got a "U" instantly. But one skeleton on its own is possibly more frightening than seven, and also in Seventh Voyage the skeleton was in a dark, spooky chamber, while in Jason the seven were out in the open on a sunny hilltop.
- I suppose we would be monsters to a Venusian. [...] We depicted the outer space creature as something strange rather than as a monster. He was from a strange place and therefore out of place in our familiar surroundings.
- On 20 Million Miles to Earth
- I teethed on Frankenstein and Dracula but I feel that those films were made with greater taste than horror films are made today. They dwell too much on the gorier aspects of their subjects for some reason. I suppose it's because people are more jaded now.
- I enjoyed Young Frankenstein. I didn't think I would because I like my Frankensteins pure and clean like the original but I was very amused by Young Frankenstein - I thought it was very well-done. On the whole I dislike tongue-in-cheek sendups. But I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy Flesh for Frankenstein. From what I've heard about it the film approaches the subject from the gorier side and neglects the profundity of the original.
- We don't set out to deliberately scare with our creatures, we try to make them as awe-inspiring as possible.
An Animated Life (2003)
Ray Harryhausen & Tony Dalton (2003), An Animated Life, Aurum Press.
- The art of motion has always intrigued me. How a body - when it throws its weight from side to side and sits down - actually sits down. What muscles interact to bring that simple movement to its conclusion. Movement is a fascinating process and each creature I have made and animated has had its own character according to its physiognomy.
- p. 7
- I am often asked if I would have liked to have been involved with Jurassic Park. The plain answer is no. Although excellent, it is not with all its dollars what I would have wished to do with my career. I was always a loner and worked best that way. Since the very beginning I fought and struggled under constant pressure to keep the design and final result within my hands. As time moved on this became more difficult, until I was forced to bow to the fact that my method of working, in the financial sense, was no longer practical. Model animation has been relegated to a reflection, or a starting point for creature computer effects that has reached a high few could have anticipated. However, for all the wonderful achievements of the computer, the process creates creatures that are too realistic and for me that makes them unreal because they have lost one vital element - a dream quality. Fantasy, for me, is realizing strange beings that are so removed from the 21st century. These beings would include not only dinosaurs, because no matter what the scientists say, we still don't know how dinosaurs looked or moved, but also creatures of the mind. Fantastical creatures where the unreal quality becomes even more vital. Stop-motion supplies the perfect breath of life for them, offering a look of pure fantasy because their movements are beyond anything we know.
- p. 8
- I remember once, in my garage studio whilst I was animating a dinosaur, that things were not going right. Gradually they got worse and worse, as they do in situations where you don't keep your temper, and in a fit of accumulated rage I threw a hammer at the floor. Unfortunately, it bounced and went through a huge plate glass painting I had been preparing to use in a miniature set and which I had spent weeks carefully painting. I almost cried with frustration, and there and then decided that if I wanted to make this my career, I would have to control my temper. I am not saying that I didn't lose my temper after that incident - I did - but I always tried to remember that plate glass painting. It was a timely and necessary lesson.
- p. 21
- For some reason the creation was called a rhedosaurus, and although I can't remember where this name came from, I suspect Hal Chester or one of the writers coined it. Over the years, people have suggested that the first two letters relate to the initials of a certain animator. I have no comment.
- p. 49
- The task of instilling pathos into a creature that was, after all, an innocent victim of circumstances was something I had set myself from the outset, although I was restrained by the script... The Beast is a poor lost soul brought back to life by man and then destroyed by man. If it sounds familiar, it is. King Kong was a huge influence, as he would be in all the other creatures I would be father to.
- p. 57
- The Ymir and Kong before him are both creatures wrenched from their natural environment against their will and finally killed by man. Although these creatures must always die, they should go out with a touch of pathos.
- p. 98
- Greek and Roman mythology had never been a favourite subject of mine at school, but as I grew older I began to appreciate the legends and realize that they contained a vivid world of adventure with wonderful heroes, villains and, most importantly, lots of fantastic creatures.
- p. 151
- It seems ironic that for most of my career I have been trying to perfect smooth and life-like animation action, but for Talos (which was the longest animation section of the film), it was necessary to create a deliberately stiff and mechanical movement in keeping with a bronze statue that had sprung to life.
- p. 157
- The most popular exhibits in any natural history musem are, without doubt, the dinosaurs. These creatures' popularity grows each year, partly because of the recent resurgence of dinosaur movies, but also because a skeleton of a full-sized tyrannosaurus rex still has the ability, even 65 million years after its death, to chill us to the bone.
- p. 195
- Although Gwangi had been an allosaurus in Obie's version, I decided to make him more of a tyrannosaurus, and so I used elements from both species to make what I suppose could be called a 'tyrannosaurus al'. This combination allowed me a flexibility between aggressiveness and agility. If you like, he was glamourized.
- p. 205
- When it came to the tiger, I found that animating the movements of a large feline animal posed some difficulties, as it required precise and miniscule advancements in movement throughout its body. As well as tigers, I also studied domestic cats, and by so doing managed to achieve a combination of mannerisms represented by both. The overall impression is of latent ferocity and a lust for blood, but at the same time there are also slow, graceful movements that mask the creature's power.
- p. 252
- Clash was destined to be my last hero picture, and looking back, the decision to end my career at that point was absolutely right. With all the problems involved in production, and the knowledge that I was losing precious control of solo animation, I was forced to concede that it was time to stand aside for others and their new technology to take over.
- pp. 280-2