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The Valley of Gwangi [Import]

3.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 82.24
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Product Details

  • Actors: James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Richard Carlson, Laurence Naismith, Freda Jackson
  • Directors: Jim O'Connolly
  • Writers: Julian More, William Bast, Willis H. O'Brien
  • Producers: Charles H. Schneer, Ray Harryhausen
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Studio: Warner
  • Release Date: Oct. 21 2003
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0000B1OGD
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Product Description

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.

Amazon.ca

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

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: VHS Tape
Resurrecting an aborted project that Willis ( KING KONG ) O'Brien wanted to make himself, Ray Harryhausen followed-up his successful Hammer film ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. with this movie, working once again with longtime partner Charles H. Schneer. Filmed in Spain, this 1969 offering has stunning stop-motion animated dinosaurs.
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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ray Harryhausen is one of my favourite film makers. Valley of Gwangi is a relatively rarely seen Harryhausen film, so any availability on DVD is welcome. This is an acceptable transfer, but varies in quality, especially when some characters are in shadows--skin tones are not right, for example. Also, there is only one extra, and not very impressive.

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.
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