March 2, 2021

Ray Harryhausen’s Best Special Effects

Released in 1966, One Million Years B.C. might’ve been Ray Harryhausen’s all-around most accomplished work to date, but his brilliant creations for the film were very nearly overshadowed by one publicity still. Of course, said still featured the drop-dead gorgeous Raquel Welch, who played a minor role in the movie, in a fur bikini. It was an image that instantly rocketed her to stardom, and it’s resurfaced again and again in pop culture to a degree that nobody involved ever could’ve envisioned. So perhaps it’s understandable that she gets more attention than Harryhausen’s effects work. But for the movie, a remake of a far less technically accomplished 1940 feature, Harryhausen created the most convincing dinosaurs audiences had yet seen onscreen (or would see for years after).

According to TV Guide, the master animator’s squad of dinos included everything from a “giant sea turtle” to a Brontosaurus, as well as an AllosaurusCeratosaurus, and Triceratops. Plus, there was an actual iguana made to look like a giant — a tip of the hat to the technique utilized in the 1940 original. Of course, the film was the exact opposite of historically accurate. Dinosaurs had long since gone extinct by 1 million B.C., they didn’t co-exist with humans, and it’s highly doubtful that our prehistoric forebears, as the flick’s marketing materials suggested, invented history’s first bikini. But Harryhausen’s effects could always be counted on to steal the show, and even competition from a scantily clad Welch couldn’t keep them from doing so again.

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