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The Valley of Gwangi [Import]
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Set around the turn of the century in Mexico, it is a very Kong-like tale of a mighty creature ( the titular Allosaurus with T-Rex attributes ) that is captured in "Forbidden Valley" and brought back to a local Wild West show / circus to make money. The monster flees its bonds and proceeds into a magnificent cathedral, which becomes consumed in a raging inferno and brings about its demise.
Harryhausen, who worked a full year on the special effects, effectively populates a valley that is lost in time with a number of prehistoric animals, which include an equine Eohippus, a "plucked ostrich" called an Ornithomimus and a horned Styracosaurus who fights Gwangi to the death in a memorable sequence. The highlight is a well-staged roping sequence which consumed many months of Ray's time to realize; he had to carefully align the animated ropes on the Gwangi model with real ropes used in live action to snare a Jeep with a pole affixed.
Other key points include the escape of Gwangi from its cage ( a split-screen process was used in the making of this effect ) and battle with an eleplant model, and its fiery finale in the great edifice ( utilizing the optical printer to superimpose flames around the allosaur's feet ). Ray Harryhausen outdid himself for this feature which includes literally hundreds of animation set-ups to concoct the visual effects.
Unfortunately, the live-action sequences do not show as much panache.Read more ›
Gwangi was Harryhausen's taking of an old Willis O'Brien idea of matching up cowboys with dinosaurs. Harryhausen's dinosaurs are very good, but, sadly, have a been-there done-that kind of feel. Most of the dinosaurs are blue, which is a little odd. The scenes in the dinosaur valley lack drama in general, but the film picks up considerably when the dinosaur is taken to a city and predictably runs amuck--the film's conclusion is very good, and makes up for some of the problematic stuff before. Acting is okay, but Gina Colan doesn't really register, and poor Richard Carlson looks too old for his part.
Most recent customer reviews
This was one of my favourite movies to watch on television when growing up. The story holds up today. Harryhausen's Gwangi rivals today's CGI monsters. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Avenger7
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 morePublished on Dec 26 2013 by J.J. Juicy Eyes
It is a wonderful tribute to early stop motion movie production. Loved it and will keep it in my collection.Published on July 6 2013 by Brian Doyle
I remember mom and dad taking me to a drive in to see this movie. Still love Ray Harryhausen work to this dayPublished on May 29 2013 by maddog
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 morePublished on June 29 2006 by Bernie
The Valley of Gwangi is not a good "A" grade movie. It's not even a good "B" grade movie. Read morePublished on April 27 2004 by D. Flores
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 morePublished on March 2 2004
The Valley of Gwangi, aka Gwangi, aka The Lost Valley, aka The Valley Time Forgot, aka The Valley Where Time Stood Still, (whew! Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2004 by cookieman108
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