Ray Harryhausen came up as an option and pretty much unplanned we wound up watching Ray's first movie and his last. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms came out in 1953 movie and Clash Of The Titans was released in 1981. Ray had worked on several shorts before The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and he was effects technician on Mighty Joe Young in 1949 but the films we watched are the first and last of the 15 films where he was in charge of the visual effects. Ray created the creatures and did all the animation work. I've seen them all, some several times, over the years. Some are better than others but usually they're entertaining and Ray's stop motion animation is fun to watch. Part of the appeal is the monsters or mythical creatures he brings to life. We like monsters in our group and we'll watch pretty much anything with a giant monster in it. We sure see some crap sometimes. Luckily for us, these two aren't at the lower end of the spectrum.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms opens with some men in the arctic conducting a nuke test. The explosion uncovers a giant reptile which wakes up and ambles about yelling. I'd be yelling too, especially if my balls were dangling in an iceberg for a 100 million years. A couple of men see it but one dies and the other is thought to have been driven crazy by the strain of arctic life and the death of his friend. We know he's not crazy and as the monster makes some more appearances the rest of the world comes to know it too. The scientists and the military rally around to try to stop it. The monster makes several appearances. We particularily liked the scene with the lighthouse. Lovely silhouette.
The monster is eventually tracked and they shoot it with guns of various sizes. Turns out the beast's blood is deadly poison so they need to kill it without making it bleed too much. They figure that out and at the end of the film the critter lies dead in the ruins of a roller coaster. It's sad really, poor monster. It was the first giant creature that was woken up, or created, by nukes in a movie. The film did well, making $5 mill from a $220K cost, and that spured other companies to make more monster movies. Great for us, huh. There's some dodgey science in the movie but it's a movie about a giant pre-historic reptile so you can't expect too much. It's one I've seen a few times and I always enjoy watching it. It's very much of the time and I like science fiction movies from the 1950's.
Eugène Lourié was mostly an art director during his career which started in 1934 and ended in 1980. The Art Direction Catagorey on his IMDb page lists 52 films and tv series. As a director he made some tv shows and a tv movie but only directed 4 theatrical films: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), The Colossus Of New York (1958), The Giant Behemoth (1959) and Gorgo (1961). He quit directing because he though he was getting typecast as a monster movie director. It's too bad. While I wouldn't say his films are great cinematic art they are good solid monster movies that provide an entertaining story and some mighty monster action.
Clash Of The Titans was directed by Desmond Davis from a script by Beverly Cross who was Maggie Smith's husband until he died in 1998. When the King of Argos tosses his daughter and her son into the sea the gods get involved. The King is mad that the son, Perseus, is the offspring of Zeus. The big guy retaliates by killing the king and having Posideon release the Kraken to destroy Argos. Sucks to live there now. Zeus has the gods help Perseus and his mon, Danae to get to an island and a new life. Perseus grows up into Harry Hamblin and his feathered hairdo. Zues has the gods give him some help. They provide an invisibility helmet, a sword that can cut through marble and a shiny shield. Good thing, there are monsters to fight.
I'm not much of a Harry Hamblyn fan but there you go. Judi Bowker plays Andromeda, the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia. The story is fair for a Greek God melodrama. They were some pricks, those Greek gods, with all their dickin' around and screwing over the people they've scared into worshipping them. The people of Argos didn't have anything to do with their King and they paid for that by being crushed by the kraken. Some of the effects don't look as good as you might hope, especially Poseidon releasing the kraken from his undersea prison. Most of Ray's work looks pretty good. There's a nice Pegasus and some scorpions and the shorts of the medusa are what I remember most from the film.
That's Ray and Medusa. She'll loose her head soon and that'll screw up the Kraken's snackin' on Perseus's wife. Zeus is impressed with his boy's courage and he forbids the god's to bother them anymore. Like you could trust that lot. Not quite as entertaining as the first movie. It's 118 minute length seems a bit long, I find some of the story a bit dull, but the monsters are much better. Well worth the look.