HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Valley of Gwangi, The do you think he saurus?Buy this film here.
Year: 1969
Director: Jim O'Connolly
Stars: James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Laurence Naismith, Richard Carlson, Freda Jackson, Gustavo Rojo, Dennis Kilbane, Mario De Barros, Curtis Arden
Genre: Western, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Stop-motion legend Willis O’Brien conceived this wild west dinosaur epic back in 1942, although it took twenty-seven years to reach the screen under the aegis of his protégé, Ray Harryhausen. In the old west, stuntman-turned-entrepreneur “Tuck” Kirby (James Franciscus) visits a small Mexican town where he tries to buy an ailing circus off his former fiancé T.J. Breckinridge (Gila Golan). But T.J. plans to revive her fortunes thanks to a new star attraction: a tiny horse that Tuck, aided by British palaeontologist Professor Horace Bromley (Laurence Naismith) and Mexican monster-fan Lope (Curtis Arden), learns is a prehistoric Eohippus.

Gypsy woman Madame Zorina (Freda Jackson) believes the animal is cursed and despatches a gang of thieves, aided by Bromley who hopes it will lead him to the Forbidden Valley. Tuck and Lope are roped into this dangerous escapade, with T.J., “Champ” Connors (Richard Carlson) and their fearless cowboys in pursuit until they reach the valley where time stood still. Here they discover a flying Pterodactyl, a scampering Ornithomimus, the spiky Styracosaurus and a ferocious Allosaurus nicknamed Gwangi.

Cowboys versus dinosaurs is such a dynamic concept it’s a wonder why it took so long to happen and why no-one has tried it since. Imagine John Wayne punching out a triceratops! It isn’t too far-fetched, John Ford was an uncredited director on Harryhausen’s Mighty Joe Young (1949). Three years after the hit Hammer co-production, One Million Years B.C. (1966), Harryhausen had perfected Dynamation dinosaurs to the point where The Valley of Gwangi features some of his most striking work. The little Eohippus and sky blue Gwangi (whom the animator admits looks more like a Tyrannosaurus Rex) are beautiful creations, while Jerome Moss’ rousing score adds punch to the exciting, action set-pieces.

And yet this suffers some of the problems Willis O’Brien identified in Harryhausen’s early efforts as a fledgling animator. His animation is technically impeccable, yet devoid of emotion. The Mexican townsfolk may cry when Gwangi (actually a Native American name for “lizard”) meets its fiery fate, but Harryhausen is unable to inspire us to do the same. The plot - as with any Harryhausen/Charles H. Schneer production not based on ancient myth - is purely functional, designed to show off the monsters with little in the way of engaging or even sympathetic characters. A bikini-clad Raquel Welch almost upstaged his prehistoric menagerie last time round, but there is no danger of that happening here. Franciscus and Golan (whose thick Spanish accent was re-dubbed) are unexceptional. Tuck is scripted as a curiously smug and charmless hero, although turning a stock, stuffy British professor like Bromley into a villain is an interesting touch.

While it takes around forty-five minutes before the dinosaurs appear, it’s the action and spectacle that keeps us entertained. From the cowboys neck-snapping battle with the pterodactyl, the roping of Gwangi like an errant steer and his circus rampage at the climax. Well orchestrated by Jim O’Connolly, whose eccentric genre work includes Bizarre! (1967) - another circus set monster movie - and Tower of Evil (1971).
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3463 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (3)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: