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The Valley of Gwangi

4.3 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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

Special Features

  • "Return to the Valley" Harryhausen featurette
  • Previews of other Willis H. O'Brien/Ray Harryhausen creature features

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: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000B1OGD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,675 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Valley of Gwangi" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: VHS Tape
This was always one of my favorite Ray Harryhausen films. The Jerome Moross score elevates this film from being just another standard fantasy motion picture and transforms it into a Western dinosaur roundup. The setting enhanced by the score and Harryhausen's convincing stop motion creatures really dupes the viewer very subtly into thinking that this Western could have happened. Or almost! The actual valley when first seen by the cowboys has a very unsettling look about it, somewhere between prehistoric and surrealistic. The Jerome Moross score is very reminiscent of his "THE BIG COUNTRY," "THE PROUD REBEL" and "THE JAYHAWKERS." The dinosaur work here by Harryhausen ranks among his best. "I see what you mean Mister Kirby."
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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: VHS Tape
The Valley Of Gwangi was a script prepared in 1940 by Willis O'Brien, the SFX technician responsible for King Kong. His apprentice, Ray Harryhausen, acquired a copy of the script, but when O'Brien's project was aborted, Harryhausen forgot about it until in 1966, having wrapped up work on One Million Years B.C., Harryhausen and producer-friend Charles Schneer found the script in Harryhausen's garage, and decided to film it. William Bast was brought it to make changes; originally set in 1940, the story was pushed back to circa 1900.
The film's genesis proved to be most troubling. Schneer and Harryhausen's primary distributor, Columbia Pictures, felt the film would be too expensive (it called for much more in the way of stop-motion animation and film-splicing FX than previous Harryhausen projects), but Ken Myler of Seven Arts (which had financed One Million Years B.C.) liked the project and took it to Warner Brothers when Seven Arts bought into the film company.
Filming took two years and was plagued with problems. There were reports of controversies with director James O'Connelly (Harryhausen wound up directing the majority of the film, though it was mostly because of the sheer quantity of stop-motion/splitscreen effects work needed) and also spats between Schneer and the film's musical composer, Jerome Moross. There was also the matter of Israeli actress Gina Golan, cast as the film's heroine, T.J. Breckenridge; Golan could not speak fluent English, so her voice had to be dubbed for the entire film.
Then, when the film was finished, Ken Myler left Warner Brothers-Seven Arts, and the new management wanted nothing to do with the film, so they dumped it on the market with little more than a poster and a coming attractions trailer as publicity.
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