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The Valley of Gwangi

James Franciscus , Gila Golan , Jim O'Connolly    G (General Audience)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 76.57
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Product Details

Product Description


The stop-motion magic of legendary special effects creator Ray Harryhausen is the highlight of this sporadically exciting fantasy-adventure, which pits cowboys against dinosaurs in the Mexican desert. James Franciscus and Richard Carlson star as members of a struggling Wild West show who discover their newest attraction in Mexico--a tiny prehistoric horse. Exploration into a nearby valley uncovers living dinosaurs, including the fearsome "Gwangi"-an allosaur that the circus folk capture for exhibition. But as every creature connoisseur knows, monsters in cages always break free, and soon enough, the beast is on a rampage. Originally developed by Harryhausen's mentor Willis O'Brien in 1942, The Valley of Gwangi feels like a retread of his previous titles, especially 20 Million Miles to Earth, but Harryhausen's effects are spectacular as always (especially the miniature horse), and will please monster fans. Warner Bros' widescreen anamorphic DVD includes a short featurette, "Return to the Valley," in which Industrial Light and Magic animators pay tribute to Harryhausen's influence. --Paul Gaita

Product Description

A cowboy captures a prehistoric beast and hits on the idea of putting it on show at a traveling circus. The beast, however, has other ideas.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An under-rated classic looking better than ever. Feb. 20 2004
When Ray Harryhausen was looking for new ideas, he came across an old script - intended for a never-made film - written by Willis O'Brien (creator and animator of RKO's 'King Kong'). Wth a little re-writing, this film came into being. I remember seeing this film as a kid. Personally, I think it's still as good now as it was then. Ray Harryhausen's special effects are, as always, first-rate. The story is both interesting and exciting, contains barely a dull moment. Scenes of the cowboys riding into the forbidden valley, the little horse in its miniature stable, and the roping of the titular allosaur had stuck in my mind since I first saw this film. Combining a western with a dinosaur movie was certainly a master-stroke. The human characters are interesting, as are the dinosaurs - you really do feel sympathy for Gwangi at the finale. The soundtrack is excellent, and the backgrounds are atmospheric and dramatic. Besides this film, now looking better than ever, this DVD also contains an interesting look at the making of Gwangi, including interviews with Ray Harryhausen himself. This is recommended whether you're a fan of dinosaurs or monster movies in general.
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The Valley of Gwangi, aka Gwangi, aka The Lost Valley, aka The Valley Time Forgot, aka The Valley Where Time Stood Still, (whew!) stars James Franciscus (Beneath the Planet of the Apes) and Richard Carlson (It Came From Outer Space) and while they were decent, the real star of this movie is special effects creator and legend Ray Harryhausen.
Franciscus plays Tuck Kirby, a cowboy looking to make a quick buck by brokering a deal for the sale of a horse that's being used in his ex-girlfriend's Wild West circus show that is located 'just south of the Rio Grande'. Gila Golan plays T.J. Breckenridge, owner of the circus, with Carlson as Champ Connors, the protective fatherly figure/manager of the circus.
Anyway, a discovery is made of some sort of prehistoric animal, a wee little horse, and we soon find out the animal came from an area called the 'forbidden valley'...or at least that's what it is called by the gypsy-like tribe that seems to live near it, which, by the way, are inclined to believe that the rather wee horse needs to be returned to the valley whence it came of dire consequences involving a curse or some such hooey will follow. Now, getting off on a slight tangent, if I were these gypsies and I wanted to keep people out of the valley, I would have probably called it something else, like valley of the happy flowers, or valley of the nothing to see here, as the forbidden valley just sounds too tempting to strangers and such to not be explored. The gypsies also refer to it at times as the valley of the Gwangi, but they never really get specific as to the exact nature of the Gwangi.
So these gypsies end up stealing the wee, small horse and returning it to the 'forbidden' valley, with members of the Wild West circus in hot pursuit.
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This was one of the least financially successful of stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen films, which is a shame, since it's one of the wildest and most interesting. Based on an idea by Willis O'Brien, the visual effects master on the 1933 "King Kong," "The Valley of Gwangi" is basically a re-imagining of "Kong" as a Western. Yep, you heard that right, pardners: this is a Giant Monster meets the Western film.
Now come on, that's got your attention, right?
"Gwangi" is just a blast. Watching the mixture of cowboy antic with a lost land of dinosaurs is the ultimate Saturday morning matinee experience. The kid in you will just wake up right away and start cheering. (As for kids themselves, do you really have to ask? They'll love this!)
At this point in his career, Harryhausen was producing masterful effects and getting more ambitious with each film. Here he has a sequence of cowboys roping an Allosaurus (astounding!), and later a rampaging dinosaur caught in a burning cathedral. Even with today's computer effects, Harryhausen's effects have a wonderful marvel to them, a magic that CGI can't really capture. (Unless you're Peter Jackson.)
Like most of the films Harryhasen produced with Charles Schneer, the actual dramatics and script are a bit lacking. James Franciscus is right on the money in his part as the smooth-talking frontier huckster, but Gila Golan is wooden and terrible as his love interest. The dialogue often clunky, but don't worry -- the dinosaurs or a cowboy shoot-up are right about the corner.

The DVD also contains a featurette interview with Harryhausen, where he explains how the film came to be made and talks about how he achieved the incredible "dino-roping" sequence.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Prehistoric Round-Up Nov. 13 2003
The marvels of legendary FX creator Ray Harryhausen continue with the enjoyable fantasy-adventure "The Valley of Gwangi". In the Mexican desert, a struggling Wild West show discovers a hidden valley inhabited by prehistoric beasts that were once believed extinct. They manage to bring back one of these fierce beasts but soon it goes on a rampage through the streets of a Mexican town. "The Valley of Gwangi" is a unique mix of western adventure and Sci-Fi fantasy. The film follows a similar storyline to such famous titles like "King Kong" and "The Lost World". Harryhausen's remarkable visual animation and some effective roping scenes are the film's true highlights. "The Valley of Gwangi" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The DVD contains a solid and colorful video transfer and a satisfactory audio track. Among special features, it includes an interview with Ray Harryhausen, trailers and a behind-the-scene featurette. Despite its poor box cover, it also features some colorful menus. For fans of Ray Harryhausen's effects, "The Valley of Gwangi" earns a definite "C+".
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Cowboys vs Dinosaurs
I saw this movie when I was a kid and have been looking for it ever since. I fell in love with it then and it is just as great watching it now. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J.J. Juicy Eyes
5.0 out of 5 stars PURPLE DINOSAURS
It is a wonderful tribute to early stop motion movie production. Loved it and will keep it in my collection.
Published 14 months ago by Brian Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars drive in classic
I remember mom and dad taking me to a drive in to see this movie. Still love Ray Harryhausen work to this day
Published 15 months ago by maddog
4.0 out of 5 stars South of the border - down Mexico way
It was the turn of the 20 th century. Champ Connors (Richard Carlson) was putting on a rodeo show. Returning to make a horse deal and to see the girl (Gila Golan) that he did not... Read more
Published on June 29 2006 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Get in touch with your inner forbidden valley.
The Valley of Gwangi is not a good "A" grade movie. It's not even a good "B" grade movie. Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by D. Flores
1.0 out of 5 stars Right down there with Sinbad & Eye of Tiger
The film is a total letdown. The blue coloring of Gwangi`s hide, the fake looking oversize props like Gwangi`s head, the rubbery pterasaur, the dwarf that becomes wider &... Read more
Published on March 2 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Harryhausen's neglected gem shines!
This 1969 release by Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer was a flop upon it's initial release. A change of studio heads at Warner Bros. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by John Gentile
4.0 out of 5 stars Cowboys Vs. Dinosaurs
Pretty good sci-fi with some of the best Harryhausen effects i have seen. James Franciscus and Richard Carlson of "It Came From Outerspace" fame, team up to capture... Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2003 by Dr. Freeman
3.0 out of 5 stars Tex'es and Rexes!
Horse operas and science fiction have on rare ocassion been
strange bed fellows ex:"Beast from the hollow mountain" 1956
(I'm Still waiting MGM/UA) And on these rare... Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by Brian C. Lawton
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