Ray Harryhausen's animated creatures sparkled with predatory alertness and subtle quirks of behavior that stamped each with a distinct and memorable personality. His use of stop-motion animation - a method of animating movable models and puppets - brought dinosaurs and monsters to life on the silver screen. Many animators and special effects wizards, like Phil Tippett of Jurassic Park and Jim Aupperle of Planet of Dinosaurs who are still working on prehistoric-based films, openly credit Ray Harryhausen as having influenced their careers. His films are famous for being among the very best of the genre.
The first chapter of this book chronicles Harryhausen's formative years and work on numerous 16mm experiments, beginning with his viewing of King Kong in 1933. The next four chapters cover his four feature-length dinosaur films, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Animal World, One Million Years B.C. and The Valley of Gwangi. These chapters provide extensive information about all aspects of the staging of their stop-motion content and many additional facets of the overall production process. The paleontological accuracy of his saurians from a modern perspective is also examined. A chapter on his work and experiences in the 1970s and beyond discusses potential dinosaur projects, as well as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, which is not a saurian film, but does include the bat-winged homunculus. An appendix covers a number of dinosaur-related films that Harryhausen had a hand in.