Willis O’Brien Special effects extrodinare.

Do you like stop-motion? What if I was to tell you that this guy was Ray HarryHausons mentor? That is right, we are diving back into stop motion with someone who helped on one of the greatest stop-motion creators of all time. With the pictures that were taken by RKO pictures.

How this one started

Picture if you will, a place with Oakland California in mind. There is where we get to see where Willis was born. (weirdo moment there.) But as we were. Willis had quite the interesting life where he worked in rodeos and did some tours for paleontologists to give people more information about dinosaurs in the area. Mostly the crater lake region. Willis also got some sculpting and illustrating in his spare time. Needless to say this landed him a job with the San Francisco Daily news drawing them a few cartoons in their papers.During that time this crazy guy decides to become a boxer who won nine bouts before retiring from that with a loss at the tenth,(kind of sore loser if you ask me. Get it?) after that mess, Willis worked on the railroad for a bit of time before he finally managed to land a gig as a marble sculptor assistant at the 1915 San Francisco fair. The cool part is when he also displayed some of his Dino sculptures, he used those models for 90 seconds of film marking the first step into the film industry through more independent.

The movies

His first movie as stated above was a movie by the name of The Dinosaur and the Missing link. 90 seconds of footage that soon became one career for one of the greatest monsters of all time. I tend to use the term “Monster because on the initial look of Kong you get the feeling of fear.” That will be included for the link below this part of the content. Well, this got the attention of the one and only Tomous Edison that he hired O Brein to work for the Edison company making short prehistoric short films. This also were the first set of films that included stop motion in live-action films. But of course, he ended up claiming his big fame with a later movie called The lost world which would later help Willis create his own clay models and catch even more attention from many other studios until he met for the first time, In 1925 Our Willis married someone named Hazel Collette and they had two sons who tragically met a horrible end that I will not go into too much detail here but I will leave a link to the full story below. Let’s just say the marriage was a pretty sad one, to say the least. But back to Willis, He was met by Merian C. Cooper, Who was the head for RKO at the time who also recommended the cancellation of the project because he thought it was too”Dull.” Of course, this would later land Willis into what I believe was one of the first Monster movies that became so iconic for the monster within.

His greatest works

King Kong was the first film project that finally ends up being a movie as there were two other projects, including Frankenstein which I believe would have been awesome to see that happen, It could have even led to the first time we ever seen a Frankenstein movie with stop-motion. Along with that, we got a sequel one year later with Son of Kong and continued onward with some more favorites from RKO including The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) and The Dancing Pirate (1936) there was even a cool movie named (War Eagles about a race of Vikings riding on prehistoric eagles fighting with dinosaurs, but the project was canceled) You know (I wonder where you would put that sad emote in this blog.) I mean seriously, that would have been an awesome movie to see. Maybe one of these days I should see about trying to make that film real.) We at least got to see his own stuff well as developing his own project, Gwangi, about cowboys who encounter a prehistoric animal in a “lost” valley, which he failed to sell to the studio. Then we get the next big film in the form of Mighty Joe young which saw the birth of more practice work with the one and only Ray Harryhusen! while Ray worked previously with O Brein in his earlier work with Ray HarryHausen. Some accounts even mention that Ray did most of the work on the films.

Needless to say, though Willis fell into some hard times during his second marriage to Darlyne Prenett with whom he would remain until his death. O’Brien and his wife developed Emilio and Guloso (AKA: Valley of the Mist), about a Mexican boy and his pet bull who save their town from a dinosaur called “Lagarto Grande”, which was optioned by producer Jesse

Lasky, with O’Brien and Harryhausen on board to do special effects, before falling through.

Who was inspired

well, we are close to an ending where we are going to finish it up by talking about those people who would later make impressive stories/effects that would change the industry to what it is today.

Ray Harryhausen was the biggest person inspired by Willis who would later come up with movies like 20 million miles to earth. Or the beast from 20,000 fathoms.So many of these movies are already listed in some previous blogs but I can see about fining the lesser know movies for everyone s viewing pleasure. I might also link the bio on this blog within this portion of my content and let you guys have a fill with Ray as well. With that, it is time for me to go. Be sure to check the links and I will see you in the next blog.


Mighty Joe Young (Blue ray only)

The Valley of Gwangi (Blue ray only)


The Last days of Pompeii


Author: Vic

Just a little about me is I like monster movies and love educating people with blogs and content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.