Triclops (2016) – movie review

 triclops-pic-10

Triclops (2016)

Directed by Brett Piper

Starring:
Matthew Crawley
Steve Diasparra
Richard Lounello
Erin Waterhouse

 

A couple of stills from this movie on Facebook caught my interest. I looked it up on Amazon and the DVD was cheap enough to take a chance. The film contains typical B-movie acting and a typical B-movie story-line, However, the stop motion animation had a 1950’s sci-fi monster film charm to it. So, I pretended the film was from the 1950s (despite being in color) and I got along fine with it. The animated creatures were numerous; some kind of horned dinosaur, a giant Venus fly trap, a few different types of giant bugs, A mutant scorpion, and a poofy giant tic looking creature. Oh yes, we also have a giant, three eyed, mutant, humanoid known as the Triclops. The effects were quite decent and smoothly filmed for a movie with a micro budget. triclops-dvd

 

Samantha is on a search mission for her husband, an air force pilot whose plane went down in a giant meteor crater which is an off limit area like Area 51. She and her brother-in-law seek out a drunken unemployed pilot with a reputation for accepting questionable jobs. They set off, flying under radar into the ancient crater. When they land, they discover strange beasts and mutant giant insects. Samantha is kidnapped by the Triclops and the rest of the team sets out to find her. After some cat and mouse antics they eventually outsmart the 3-eyed giant and find Sam’s husband. They use a map with an alternative escape route from the crater to escape the exploding meteor within it.

 

Brett Piper, (director/producer/special fx/writer) has been doing effects for z-budget films since the 1980s. He had spent some years as FX man and editor at EI/Seductive Cinema adding minimal storylines and FX to cheap soft-core sex flicks (a real waste of his talent IMO). However, this is Brett’s, 4th or 5th recent film with a definitive direction in mind, to keep the B-movie and Creature Feature style films of the 1950’s alive by producing new films in that subgenre. He has an affinity and talent for stop-motion which puts him in a good position to do just that and in recent years his mantra seems to be giving him new recognition and a cult following.  It kind of reminds me of how Full Moon grew to popularity in the late 80s. The film’s are mostly campy fair with nostalgic effects so if that is something you would like, look up some of his films. Triclops would be a good place to start. The next film from Piper I’ll watch is going to be Queen Crab.

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Nostalgic stop-motion is the main point of this b-movie monster-fest.

I give it 3.4 mutant monsters from far off stars out of 5 on the creature feature fun scale.

 

(note: some of these pics are screenshots and the quality is not as good as you would see in the actual film)

Parlor of Horror’s Creature Feature Reviews

20 Million Miles to Earth – Movie review and tribute

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Part of the “Keep Watching the Skies” Blogathon from Cinematic Frontier – Click on logo at right to see more entries of 50’s sci-fi classics!

 

20 Million Miles to Earth

directed by Nathan H. Juranscience-fiction-movies-of-the-1950s-blogathon-04
produced by Charles Schneer
Special effects by Ray Harryhausen

starring:
William Hopper
Joan Taylor
Frank Puglia

 

A US rocket returning from Venus crashes near a fishing village in Italy. Before it sinks beneath the waters depths, a young boy finds a strange figure encased in a gelatinous egg. He trades it to a zoologist and the next day it hatches an amazing little creature. However, this is the 1950’s so rest assured it won’t be ‘little’ for long; it will grow to monstrous proportions. It’s a testament to the amazing work of Ray Harryhausen that the directors of his films are mostly forgotten, but his name and his work lives on. He created a unique creature for this film, part reptilian, part humanoid and part alien, taken from its natural habitat to fend for itself in a strange new world.

Stop-motion animation from Harryhausen (as well as Willis O’Brien) was not Claymation. They did not use clay. They used a metal armature with movable joints, like a skeleton. It was then covered with foam and latex rubber enabling it to hold detail and fixed markings while maintaining flexibility for lifelike movement. For mammals the artists would add hair. You couldn’t get such good detail and movement with clay. Some stop-motion animation involved clay, (Gumby) and others involved wooden puppets (Rankin Bass holiday specials). However, Ymir was made with the aforementioned20-million-miles-to-earth-pic-1 rubber layers and molds over skeletal design. Another big aspect to the magic of stop-motion monster films (one that it shares with Toho’s suitmation effects) is the building of miniature sets. You will see actors running down the street on location, then the monster chasing them on that same street. However, that same street is a miniature version in a studio for which the stop-motion filming can be conducted upon.

Ymir’s humanoid expressions manipulated by the talented and patient hands of Harryhausen, gave the creature empathy. We see shock, disappointment, anger, fear, desperation, all within the reactions of the beast; wide eyes, roars, hand and arm gestures, posture, all used to communicate without words. Because of this, most who see the film feel sad for Ymir’s demise, cringing at the sound of gun shots that bring him down. Ymir’s fight with a zoo elephant brought a special realism to the film and a sense of scale. Ray’s self-drawn storyboards choreographed a tense battle that intercut real elephant footage with his own recreation of the huge mammal.  This was perhaps the greatest creature battle since Kong fought the T. Rex some 25 years previous. Shadows of Ymir will show up in later Harryhausen 20-million-miles-to-earth-postercreatures, the body is similar to his Cyclops in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and his face is similar to the Kraken from Clash of the Titans. The wonderful long tail seems like a prerequisite for the snake-like Medusa. As with most 50s sci-fi/horror, there is a sub-plot following a budding romance concerning, Colonel Robert Calder, the only survivor from the space mission, and the zoologist’ s daughter, Marisa, played by the lovely Joan Taylor.

Charles Schneer was a good friend to Harryhausen and an advocate for his fine craft, working with him on nearly a dozen films. This was Ray’s fourth film depicting giant monsters rampaging through cities. The first was his work under his mentor, Willis O’Brien in Mighty Joe Young. Following that was Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and It Came from Beneath the Sea. Ray and Charles Schneer would move into fantasy adventure films after this, depicting mythological figures in his Sinbad films and other tales of ancient lore.

To younger generations, stop-motion FX doesn’t seem so real. That was part of the charm for our generation. We knew there was an art involved with making these beasts come to life. These FX artists didn’t just copy motions and images from real animals and put it into the creature’s digital repertoire. They infused the model’s movements with their own personality and mannerisms. It’s like the difference between a digital photo of a human face and the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa isn’t perfect and that’s what makes her so. That’s what gives her soul and personality. You can sense Ray’s soul and personality through these films, the creator, the adventurer, the craftsman, and the boy with wide eyed wonder at endless possibilities.

 


 

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They recently digitally colorized the film and it looks like they did a decent enough job. However, I still prefer to watch it in b&w, the way Ray made it.

Once again, be sure to check out the Keep Watching The Skies Blogathon for more 50’s movie classics!



Parlor of Horror’s ‘Creature Feature’ reviews

 

Crater Lake Monster (1977) – Movie review

Crater Lake Monster 1977 - pic 14

Crater Lake Monster (1977)

If it weren’t for my love of stop-motion animation, this film would be too difficult for me to watch. There is tons of goopy dialogue that offer exposition we don’t need and character development of people with no character. It takes nearly a half hour before this Monster sneaks up on an unsuspecting camper. This thing is 30ft long and several tons, don’t know how this thing would sneak up on anyone. Bad hair cuts (or lack of them) and 70s porn star Crater Lake Monster 1977 - postermustaches abound. We’re forced to follow the antics of two stooges who are not funny, (maybe if I was 6), and a Sheriff who is supposedly the smart one…supposedly.

The Monster is a Plesiosaur let loose from its underwater cave during a small earthquake. It eats a cow, it eats a chicken, it eats a camper and a guy that goes fishin’ – but nobody notices these people gone missing. The stop motion is outstandingly smooth and the plesiosaur model has great character (at least one character in this film does). The close up shots are terrible and consist of a large, stiff, fiberglass head that has no life in it. The soundtrack music consists of 70’s light fm and elevator music. Then, when the monster shows up it turns to 1950’s style sci-fi music used plenty of times in The Beast, the Deadly Mantis, and the Giant Behemoth.

 

David Allen:
If you like stop motion animation you have about ten minutes of great monster footage in this flick. The animation was done by David Allen. Allen was an active animator in film starting in his early career on the series, Davey and Goliath and the Gumby Show. He went on to animate sequences in Equinox and Flesh Gordon in the 70s. His work can be seen in Q, the Winged Serpent, Puppet Master, Caveman, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Batteries Not Included. In the circles of effects people he is most praised for his animation of Kong in the VW commercial in 1972. Perhaps his most known work was animating The Pillsbury Dough Boy.

If you like the art of stop motion animation you will find some nice work in this film. For the rest of you, leave this in the crater it had crawled from.

Crater Lake Monster 1977 - pic 2

Fun Facts:
Stop Motion Animation is not necessarily claymation. In fact most films do not use clay for their stop motion effects. They use sophisticated puppets with metal skeletons inside called an armature, that enabled the animator to move it in small increments. The skeleton is covered with foam, rubber and latex, sculpted to simulate dinosaur skin and sometimes covered in fur (King Kong, Mighty Joe Young).

Planet of Dinosaurs (1977) – movie review

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Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)

Directed By James Shea
Written by Jim Aupperle and Ralph Lucas

This is an important film for the dinosaur movie fan because it is the last full-length *dinosaur world film to feature stop-motion animation dinosaurs. The film was a labor of love by the (at the time) up-and-coming special effects artists and animators. Most of the animation was handled by Doug Beswick and the effects photography was done by Jim Aupperle who was a knowledgeable special effects camerman. The models were built by Stephen Czerkas and Jim Danforth did some of the matte paintings.

The dinosaurs strive to equal the quality of the men’s mentor and hero, Ray Harryhausen and they even pay tribute with a Rhedosaurus-type dino in the film. The numerous dinosaurs have a unique lizard texture, scaly and knobby and are each planet of dinosaurs dvdmarvelous creations for their stop-motion format. The dinosaurs engage in some violent scenes pushing the envelope of the past, such as when the Ceratopsian impales one of the crew with his forward horn. This film has a large amount of dinosaur action and scenes, as they are the main reason for the film being made. In fact, Aupperle designated most of the limited budget for the film to go into the special effects. Dinosaurs include, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Rhedosaurus, Ceratopsian, Brontosaurus, Tyranosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Allosaurus, and Struthiomimus.

The story is a fairly lame hodge-podge of old ideas and is only outdone by a terrible script and hokey dialogue. A spacecraft veers off course and lands in a lake on a distant planet. The crew get out alive but all their equipment is lost. (Sound Familiar anyone?) They find the planet to be populated with savage dinosaurs that attack them relentlessly. The ships captain wants to take a passive path through the land, avoiding the dinos and finding a secure place to hide until help comes. The older experienced macho-man, Jim, wants to show these dinos who’s boss and kill the biggest one in town, the T Rex. At one point the Captain yells at Luke Skywalker dude for giving an hysterical woman a weapon. This was 1977, the year of Charlie’s Angels, didn’t they know women had the power by then?

There’s some weird dialogue about being a vegetarian and a meat eater and how only the meat-eaters survive. To prove the point, all the ‘vegetarians’ die first. The remaining crew sets out to kill the T. Rex. They first kill a Kentrosaurus, stuff it with planet of dinosaurs pic 13poison berries and bring it to Rex’ s cave. Well, old T. Bone skips right over the Kentro and grabs Luke Skywalker dude in his teeth. Ouch! Another team member gone. They come up with a new, more aggressive plan to kill Rex and it works. And they live happily ever after on their new planet.

Realizing early on that the actors are not going to carry the film, the filmmakers take lots of footage of them walking. Up mountains, down hillsides, across deserts, there’s just too much walking. The hokey dialogue is funny at times but wears thin as the film continues. The only saving grace is the last 45 minutes of the film has a lot of dinosaur scenes

If you’re looking for a good story, interesting sci-fi themes or any tense character drama, your ship is way off course with this film. But if you just want to see some impressive stop-motion dinos, and some humans get gobbled up by them, you will find this film enjoyable.

planet of dinosaurs pic 11

Check out more dinosaur film reviews at my master page: Dinosaur films

* other films beyond this point did feature stop-motion animation dinos, most notably The Crater Lake Monster and Q: The Winged Serpent, but POD was the last to show a full dinosaur world with many species of dinosaurs using this form of animation.

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Note about the dvd release:
In a homage to stop-motion effects animation, the dvd special features also include the silent Willis O’Brien shorts, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919) and Dinosaur and the Missing Link (1915)

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Notes about the effects crew:

Jim Danforth – worked on films as an animator and/or matte artist quite often uncredited. He made contributions to titles such as: Jack The Giant Killer (1962), The Outer Limits (1963-64), Equinox (1970, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) (the Wonkanator), Diamonds are Forever (1971) (Submarine models animation), Flesh Gordon (1974), The Crater Lake Monster (1977), Clash of the Titans (1980), Creepshow (1981), and many more…

Doug Beswick
Worked on notable films such as The Terminator (1984) (stop motion terminator skeleton), Aliens (1986) (Mechanical armature design), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Flesh Gordon (1974), Beetle juice (1988), Evil Dead II (1987), episodes of Xena Warrior Princess (1998 – 2000), to name a few.

Jim Aupperle
Worked on some mega hits as well including, Ghost Busters (1984), The Thing (1982), Hellboy (2004), Creepshow, Flesh Gordon (1974), Troll (1986), Dinosaur (2000), Harry Potter (part 2), and Ted (2011), to name a few.

Stephen CzerkasSteve Czerkas passed away 2015

And a special note about Stephen Czerkas who passed away January 22, 2015.

Stephen provided modeling and effects work early in his career to films such as, Dreamscape, Flesh Gordon and Planet of Dinosaurs. In 1981 he was commissioned to do some life-sized models of dinosaurs for museums. In the years following he released several books on the subject of paleontology including, Dinosaurs: A Global View, My life with Dinosaurs and Feathered Dinosaurs. In 1992 he opened The Dinosaur Museum in Utah which will continue to astound, inform and educate visitors on the subject of prehistoric beasts.

Rare Dinosaur films and where to find them

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Rare and obscure Dinosaur films and where to find them

This post is for those interested in special FX, stop-motion animation, and for dinosaur film enthusiasts. The films here would probably not be considered highly entertaining in this day and age without the enjoyment of nostalgia and cinema history. Although some of these can be found on Youtube, my quest was to own copies. You never know when they will be pulled from Youtube because of some copyright dispute.

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The Animal World (1966) – Documentary
The Animal World is a documentary by Irwin Allen (famous for his 1970’s disaster movies, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure) attempting to show the scope of animal evolution from the beginning of time to date. It is all live footage except for a ten minute sequence in the beginning showcasing Dinosaurs. They hired Willis O’Brien for the project who then handed off much of the work to his underling (at the time), Ray Harryhausen. This ten minute sequence featured a Stegosaurus, two Ceratosaurus, a Brontosaurus, a T. Rex and a Triceratops. It is the highlight of the film with some wonderful bloody dino battles and an extinction meteor-hit/volcano sequence. I had originally seen these Dinosaurs on a View Master 3d viewer, because the film itself was rarely played on TV, nor was it easy to get in later years on VHS. Amazingly you can find the entire Harryhausen/O’Brien Dinosaur sequence in the dvd special features of The Black Scorpion.

The animal world dinos small 3 The animal world dinos - harryhausen

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Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955) (1966 US) – Documentary
The 1st time I ever saw this may have been either in school during a science class, or on one of the early educational public broadcast stations, like the ones Sesame Street plays on. Three boys leave the Museum of Natural History, get on a raft and as they float downstream they go back in time. Along the shore we see eras going from the Ice Age to the Age of Dinosaurs as the boys enter periods of misadventure trying to find their way home. This is a hard to get Czeck-made film but I found it on VHS after considerable searching. Hunt for VHS version on Ebay and I-Offer.

journey-to-the-beginning-of-time-poster journey to the beginning of time pic 14

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The Lost World (1925)
The full-length silent movie can be found on the special features DVD of The Lost World (1960) (Irwin Allen). This was Willis Obrien’s first feature film based on the Sir Author Conan Doyle classic adventure. In the end, the crew brings a Brontosaurus back to London.  The beast goes on a rampage through the streets. This definitely feels like a precursor of things to come. Eight Years later, O’Brien would lead his greatest beast into the streets of NYC for the epic film, King Kong (1933).

The Lost World 1925 - pic 5 the-lost-world-movie-poster-1925

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The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919)
This is another early Willis O’Brien film, a short (approx. 20 minutes). It demonstrates Obie honing his skills at creating/animating dinosaurs while telling an entertaining story (for the time). A man tells his nephews a tale from when he was a boy. There was a mountain top that, if you climbed it, you could see the events of prehistoric times. It has quite a few dinosaurs in it and you can notice the progression of Obie’s rising talents by watching this great little film and comparing it to future movies. It is a silent film so it wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking, but there were aspects I enjoyed. I kinda’ enjoy most things with Dinosaurs, though. You can find the movie in the special features of Planet of Dinosaurs.

ghost of slumber mountain pic 2

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Dinosaurs, The Terrible Lizards (1970) – Wah Chang’s, – Documentary
The Terrible Lizards is a docu-film showing the life of dinosaurs, created and produced by Wah Chung. It was most likely a very good documentary at the time but now seems more applicable to children‘s viewing. A lot of the science is now dated but the visuals are interesting. Another interesting aspect about the film is one of the models was later used as the star dinosaur in the 1970’s children show, Land of The Lost (1974) (Grumpy). Wah Chang worked visual and special fx on a multitude of sci-fi movies including, Planet of the Apes (1968), The Time Machine (1960), Jack the Giant Killer (1962) and Star Trek (TV Series), and of course, the Land of the Lost TV series (1970‘s). He was also an un-credited puppet designer in both, The Black Scorpion and Tarantula. I hope to on day get a better quality version but for now, you can see the whole “Dinosaurs” documentary here on Youtube:

Gallery 1: The Animal World

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Gallery 2: Journey to the Beginning of Time (1966)

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Gallery 3: The Lost World (1925)

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Gallery 4: The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919)

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Gallery 5:  Dinosaurs, the Terrible Lizards (1970)

The Call of Cthulhu (2005) – Movie review

The Call of Cthulhu pic 14

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

HPLHS Films

H.P. Lovecraft is considered by many to be the father of 20th century horror. His writing has influenced many horror fiction authors and his books and collections continue to sell to new generations of horror fans looking for the thrill of terror. However, by Hollywood’s standards most of Lovecraft’s works are considered un-filmable; partly because of the grandiose descriptions of ancient cities and cultures, partly because most of his stories are told with multiple flashbacks, and partly because much of his The Call of Cthulhu pic 8stories are the contemplation of ideas and concepts thought about by the main characters. Most Lovecraft stories adapted for film are re-written, quite often completely, leaving only the title, character names and most basic concepts in their wake.

Back in 2005, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society decided to focus on the most faithful adaptation of a Lovecraft story attempted to date. Sean Branney and Andrew Leman set their course unto a world unknown (much like Lovecraft’s characters themselves) and produced an extremely interesting project in “The Call Of Cthulhu”. With Branney adapting the screenplay andThe Call of Cthulhu movie Leman directing, what was birthed is a very ambitious project by a devoted and determined crew.

The Call Of Cthulhu is a period piece set in the time in which Lovecraft wrote the story, 1926. For an interesting decision, Branney and Leman set out to shoot the film mirroring a motion picture that would be filmed in the 1920’s – that being a black & white, silent movie. To stay within their limited budget they employed a multitude of ingenious and creative techniques to tell the story of Cthulhu and the ancient city of R’lyeh and in my opinion they did so with stunning success.

If you have an appreciation for black & white image, Cthulhu is a silver screen gem of chromatic artistry and beauty. The grainy, old style film seems to add a convincing realism to the story. They follow the account of a man entrusted to care for his uncle’s possessions which include a case file on the Cult of Cthulhu, for which the nephew is advised to destroy. Intrigued, the nephew delves into the file which takes him around the world exploring strange and ghastly phenomenon that coincide with the alignment of a chain of heavenly bodies. The alignment of these stars will signal the rebirth of an ancient culture and the return of The Old Ones lead by the monstrous god, Cthulhu. The final investigative file recounts The Call of Cthulhu pic 9the fatal voyage of the crew and sea vessel, Alert. This segment of the film reminds me of my favorite black & white adventure epic, King Kong. Cthulhu likewise is an epic adventure and feels big as it ventures to the four corners of the world to discover the hidden secrets of the ancients.

It is quite interesting to watch the special features because you gain a real appreciation for the ingenuity and resourcefulness put forth to complete this epic adventure. The composite scenes are wonderfully crafted and the swamp set is impressive. Bringing the sea vessel, Alert, to life was a vast undertaking and it is quite interesting to see the techniques engaged to achieve the task successfully. The whole crew was phenomenal, from the set designs to the wardrobe and make-up. The music was crafted perfectly for a silent movie, a symphonic masterpiece in of itself. The cast fully delved into the 1920’s silent era of acting which employ quite different techniques than today. Matt Foyer is exceptional as ‘The Man’ discovering his uncle’s obsession and slowly getting absorbed by the case file his uncle had warned him about. Noah Wagner is also notable as Captain Collins, as he leads his crew to inevitable doom at the hands of the monster. And of course Cthulhu is represented by stop-motion animation similar to perhaps the early silent work of Willis O’Brien.

The Call Of Cthulhu may not be a film for the casual horror fan. You may have to have an appreciation for black & white film and nostalgia to enjoy it. If you are a H.P. Lovecraft enthusiast you would definitely want to check this film out. I enjoyed it very much because of both of these aspects.

review of The Whisperer in Darkness (2011) HPLHS Films

reviews of Lovecraft movies: Lovecraft in Film

(review was originally posted on Mantaray Pictures.com)

 

Ray Harryhausen, dies, May 7th 2013

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Ray Harryhausen, dies, May 7th 2013

As of the passing of special-fx wizard, Ray Harryhausen, I’d just like to show my tribute by listing all of the wonderful movies he has worked on in his many years. Although he hadn’t worked in the field in his later years, he was a creative inspiration to modern animators such as Tim Burton, Jim Danforth, Sam Raimi and Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit)

Thankfully, Ray was finally recognized for his creative body of works with an Honorary Academy Award in 1992. He passed away Tuesday in London at age 92. Thank You, Ray, for your wonderful gift to the history of motion pictures.

Monster and Sci-fi films

Mighty Joe Young (1949) (Under the supervision of Willis O’Brien)

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)ray harryhausen

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

The Valley of Gwangi (1963)

One Million Years B.C. (1966)

The First Men in the Moon (1964)

Earth vs. The flying Saucers (1956)

The Animal World (documentary) (1956) (all dinosaur sequences)

 

Mythology and Fantasy

The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960)

Mysterious Island (1961)

The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974)

Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger (1977)

Jason and The Argonauts (1963)

Clash of the Titans (1981)

If you were to purchase any of these films on Blu-ray or dvd, they are loaded with excellent documentaries, interviews, and behind the scenes features.

The full dinosaur sequence of The Animal World is one of the special features on The Black Scorpion dvd.

Other posts featuring Ray Harryhausen films:
Creature Features – Dinosaurs Invade 
Creature Features – There be Giants
The Legacy of Kong