The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
Directed by: Jim O'Connolly
Written by: William Bast based on the story Valley of the Mist by Willis H. O'Brien
Starring: James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Richard Carlson, Laurence Naismith, Freda Jackson, Curtis Arden, Gustavo Rojo
This is the one about the cowboys who venture into the Forbidden Valley only to find that it is populated by living dinosaurs (as well as this eohippus, which I thought was pretty cool). Then it pretty much follows the pattern of King Kong with the cowboys capturing an Allosaurus and bringing it back to civilization with the intention of making a buck showing it off places.
All does not go as planned. Some people get eaten. Damned unscrupulous cowboys.
The highlight of the film is, perhaps, the stop motion magic of Ray Harryhausen, which actually looks a lot better than the CGI of today - even the dinosaurs in Jackson's Kong, though they looked alright by themselves, looked like crap as soon as you saw them anywhere near the real people.
Okay, for close-ups they used big rubber models, but most of the time the human-dinosaur interaction is shown from very far off.
The other highlight was probably making ribald jokes about Lope, the small Mexican boy the main guy hires to help him with stuff or whatever. Poor little Lope...
Well anyway, this movie was a pretty good version of the King Kong story, although, really, cowboys + dinosaurs. How can you go wrong? Actually, I'm sure it probably could go wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
Yeah, dinosaurs... um, probably really well suited to youngish children, actually, whilst in their dinosaur phase (I had a dinosaur phase myself. I wanted to be a paleontologist. Then I wanted to be a veterinarian. Now I want to be a firetruck). I mean, the allosaurus is kind of cute, in a scaly sort of way. It was more endearing than any of the scary ass dinosaurs out of Jurassic Park.
Granted, poor Gwangi does die screaming in horror and sudden death. That really upset my inner child. I was all like, 'they didn't have to kill him!', and then I wished death on James Franciscus. According to IMDb, he died in 1991. Now I feel bad.
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