Ray Harryhausen was a titan (pun intended) of special effects. I grew up watching his pioneering work and I hope young kids do. He is probably best known for his films based on Greek Mythology, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. However, he also made a trilogy of films inspired by Sinbad the sailor from the Arabian Nights.
They were made over the space of 19 years with three different actors playing the title hero which is almost as quick as the turnover of the actors playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The first film of the series The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is undeniably the jewel of the trilogy and has continued to enchant audiences over a half century later. It’s a rip-roaring adventure fantasy of the highest order with perhaps the most memorable stop-motion animation of Harryhausen long career.
The image of the cyclops has entered the lexicon of popular consciousness even if Harryhausen played fast and loose with the accuracy of the creatures compared with their mythological originals. The cyclops in the film is a mixture of the mythological cyclops with the Greek god Pan’s horn, furry goat legs, and hooves. The original creature was more of a giant human with just one eye. Harryhausen’s favourite creation from the film, however, was the cobra woman who was very much a dry run for his take on Medusa in Clash of the Titans. It typical of Harryhausen to reuse the animatronics for another film down the line or even his creations like the skeleton Sinbad fights which he expanded into the much-loved skeleton army sequence in Jason and the Argonauts.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad also has the strongest narrative of the trilogy and moves at a zipping pace for 88 minutes, which is something Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger could have used. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, however, is a very worthy sequel and easily Harryhausen’s finest work after Jason and the Argonauts and before his triumph swansong Clash of the Titans. The battle with the 6 armed stone Kali is as memorable as Harryhausen’s battle with skeletons and so is the epic fight between a one-eyed centaur and a Griffin. It also includes everyone’s favourite Doctor Who Tom Baker as the film’s villain who was clearly reveling playing a baddie.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger may be a bit of a bore, it seems very dated and lacks the magic of the previous two films in the trilogy. However, it does still have Harryhausen’s special effects which even made the bad films he worked on be just about sufferable. He also put so much love and care into his stop motion creations that they have a realism that only the best stop motion has.
Powerhouse’s release like Harryhausen’s creations is full of love and care. It’s totally rammed to the gills with documentaries, interviews, super 8 versions of the films and also boasts a world premiere on blu-ray of the 4K remastered version of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. It’s all rounded off with a massive 80 pack booklet and it’s limited to 6,000 copies which are expected to sell out in the coming months.