Everybody remembers the skeletons. You know, the ricky-ticky bone warriors from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts. They scared the piss out of generations of kids, and inspired the artistic ones to go out and make their own movie monsters.
The skeletons were the creation of Ray Harryhausen, the legendary visual-effects wizard and stop-motion animation pioneer whose handiwork also provided the thrills -- often paired with Bernard Herrmann's stirring music scores -- for Clash of the Titans, Mysterious Island, and The Three Worlds of Gulliver. Two of Harryhausen's best fantasies, the above-mentioned Sinbad and 1957's 20 Million Miles to Earth (with a gigantic plug-ugly attacking Rome), are being screened Saturday evening (6 p.m.) at Movie Classics by the Bay in Alameda (2700 Saratoga St. on the former naval base) in a tribute to the 84-year-old maestro.
As a special treat, Academy Award-winning effects artist Phil Tippett (Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers), Tom Gibbons and Brian Freisinger of ESC Entertainment (the Matrix trilogy), Jim Aupperle (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ghostbusters), and other experts will take part in a panel discussion on their painstaking art, led by John Stanley. The former Creature Features TV host has his own Harryhausen connection. As a copyboy-turned-critic for the SF Chronicle, Stanley's first movie review was Mysterious Island, and he later interviewed Harryhausen for the TV show ("He told me that Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger  was his swan song. He said: 'I'm retiring after this.' The movies had changed. He got out at a moment of glory").
These days Stanley makes the rounds with his Creature Features appearances, and is working on a book, The Career That Dripped with Gore, "a curious blending" of memoir, a pictorial history of old-time TV horror hosts, and interviews with such actors as Vincent Price, Leonard Nimoy, and Christopher Lee. But Saturday in Alameda, Stanley's job will be to bridge the gap between Harryhausen's clay monsters and the CGI whoosh of the Matrix era. Tickets are $7 at the door.
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