Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…



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2 Comments on “Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…”

  1. carycomic Says:

    Ah, yes! I remember those movies well. And, I still watch them, every time they come on!

    Ray Harryhausen got his start as the apprentice of Willis O’Brien, who first pioneered stop-motion animation with the silent movie adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD. Later, of course, O’Brien handled the special effects for the justly immortalized 1933 version of KING KONG! And, sixteen years later, he and Ray collaborated on the original version of MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (including that now-classic tug-of-war scene with the ten real-world wrestling champs of the day).

    Of course, Ray didn’t become a household name in his own right until THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (circa 1953), which was loosely based on a short story by good friend and fellow dinosaur enthusiast, Ray Bradbury.

    I am dead certain there isn’t a CGI technician, working today, that hasn’t chosen that line of work based on fond childhood memories of Ray’s movies. Watch any re-run of HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS, where Kevin Sorbo occasionally fights skeleton men, and it’s obvious the visual effects crew watched JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS as kids!

    Btw: there’s a special DVD multi-pack containing restored short subjects that featured some of Ray’s early work on humorous adaptations of Aesop’s Fables. Doubtless inspired by George Pal’s highly similar “Puppetoons,” one of them depicted the race between the Tortoise and the Hare.

    With a fox as officiating judge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • vulpesffb Says:

      Harryhausen was awesome, a visionary pioneer whose work transcended the technology of his day! I doubt that those old movies would have been possible without him, or at least as memorable.

      Liked by 1 person

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