Today is “Appreciate A Dragon Day”, and while I don’t typically jump to every single peculiar holiday, this one sounded like a lot of fun! Dragons rock, pure and simple. There have been so many incredible dragons in lore, books, movies, television, and games. It would be easy to list the multitudes of dragons who have popped up in my life, or those I’ve loved in movies. Since this is a practical effects focused blog, I’ll be just gathering some greats from the world of practical effects. Sorry, that means no Smaug, no Toothless, etc.
Lets get started shall we?
Taro from The 7th voyage of Sinbad 1956
Ray Harryhousen’s masterpieces of stop-motion monsters included some fine dragon goodness. What strikes me is that this effect is actually better than some of the special effects we saw through the 1990’s and early 2000’s when people were just starting to move to computers!
Hydra – Jason and the Argonauts – 1963
Another Harryhousen classic rears its head with the Hydra. The motion on this thing is stunning.
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster – 1964
You could almost argue that Godzilla himself is a dragon, but for the sake of this article, we’ll just stick with Ghidorah, who happens to look more like your typical winged beast.
Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer – 1981
I recall watching this movie quite fondly. The scene where the main character goes into the cave after the dragon really packed on the suspense for my kid-brain. The puppet can seem stiff now, but at the time, this was pretty impressive.
Falkor – never ending story – 1984
FalKor was a dragon. He says so in the movie. I don’t care if you don’t like furry dragons, Falkor rocked. He was also practical effects.
Reptilicus – 1961
I watched this movie with my son, I was pleasantly surprised with how well they pulled off a projected background! You can see the shot I mean in the thumbnail. The miniature work in this one is fun too.
Yowler – Dragonworld- 1994
This movie has an incredible amount of different practical dragon rigs in it. From massive crane mounted animatronics to stop motion scenes and even suits.
Reign of fire – 2002
I know, I know, these dragons are digital! Except where they’re dead. Then they’re giant scenic effects. (sequence from this video)
Eborsisk – Willow – 1988
Easily one of my favorites just simply for how unique the design is. So ugly, so cool.
Eustace from the BBC version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader – 1989
Kind of cheezy but actually looks like it would be a fun costume to reproduce!
Swamp Dragon – The Barbarians – 1987
very turtle like but still an impressive feat. That thing was pretty big!
The Magic Sword – 1962
This thing had to be an incredible feat for the time. That was simply massive on the set!
Q The Winged Serpent – 1982
Ever wanted to see David Caradine fight a dragon? Here’s your chance.