Attack of the Skeletons!

I’d like to watch one of my all-time favorite movies today–Jason and the Argonauts (1963), featuring two of the most extraordinary special effects scenes ever created: the skeletons’ attack, and the colossal statue of Talos coming to life. These were the work of the late Ray Harryhausen: and although most of our current special effects tools and techniques were not available to him in 1963… he didn’t need ’em!

So here is a bit of the skeletons’ attack. The whole movie’s available on YouTube, in case you want to join me in watching it. If you’ve never seen it before, you’ll be astounded by what could be done, back then, without computers.

Hey, you might even get a little bit scared, for a minute or two! But don’t worry: this kind of scare only lasts a few minutes, and then you can have a laugh about it. Really, it’s a form of sanity medicine.

11 comments on “Attack of the Skeletons!

  1. Okay, for those of us who don’t have time to watch the whole movie, tell us how they manage to overcome the skeletons. Start your explanation with “Spoiler Alert” so people who don’t want to know can skip your comment. 🙂

    1. Spoiler alert: They don’t overcome the skeletons. Jason is forced to dive into the sea, and when the skeletons follow, they discover that they don’t float.

    2. Wow. One of these days I’ll have to make some time to watch the whole thing.

  2. I so loved this movie and saw it at the Midway when I was a kid. The movie came out at around the time lightning struck the wooden fence at the back of our little backyard. Dad pulled the worn and old wood into the yard and my friend and I thought it was just dandy as the Argos and we were able to pretend to be Argonauts (we were tomboys). In a kitchen cabinet I found some stale candy corn-just perfect for our pretending. So we started tossing the hardened candy here and there and then our imagination got too much for us and we ran into the shed. Both of us had just gotten that creepy feeling and wanted to somewhere safe just in case.

    1. I’ll tell you!
      Ray Harryhausen was the all-time master of a technique called “stop-motion.” All his monsters were models, and he would take thousands of pictures of each model in a slightly different position with each photo taken. When you ran the photos in series, it looked like the monsters were moving.

      It was a very painstaking process. In the skeleton sequence, for instance, Harryhausen has to make sure the background showed through the gaps in the ribs, etc.

      The trouble he took is why his movies are still great today, 50 and 60 years later.

    2. WOW!!! I am amazed that he used stop-motion for his movies! That sure must have taken a long time to make! Thank you for telling me!

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