Valley of the Gwanji (1969 film)
The Valley of the Gwanji, AKA Valley of Gwanji, The Valley Where Time Stood Still, Gwangi, The Lost Valley, The Valley Time Forgot, (1969)
"Cowboys battle monsters in the lost world of a forbidden valley!" Everything goes wrong when a Wild West showman and his cowboy adventurers find stop-motion dinosaurs (animated by special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen) near a Mexican town and put one on display.
- Release Date: 1969
- Country/Language: US, English and Spanish
- Genres/Technical: Fantasy, Western (weird west), Adventure
- Runtime: 1 hr 36 min
- Starring: James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Richard Carlson
- Director: Jim O'Connolly
- Writer: William Bast and Julian More
- Producer/Production Co: Ray Harryhausen (associate producer), Charles H. Schneer (producer), Warner Brothers/Seven Arts, Morningside Productions
- View Trailer: (link)
- Rated: G (probably more like a PG by today's standards, with some mild off-screen Violence)
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)
Without a single drop of cosmic horror and without a single tentacle-monster anywhere, this film will never be mistaken for "Lovecraftian" in any way; what it does have is pure over-the-top pulp weirdness: gypsy curses, a Wild West show full of cowboy adventurers, hidden valleys containing monsters from the dawn of time, and a dinosaur-god running loose in the streets of Mexico. Just re-imagine this film's story retold, with a lost city of Elder Things taking the place of a valley full of dinosaurs....
Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.
- Andrew Pragasam at The Spinning Image (7/10) (link) - "Cowboys versus dinosaurs is such a dynamic concept it’s a wonder why it took so long to happen and why no-one has tried it since. ... Three years after the hit Hammer co-production, One Million Years B.C. (1966), Harryhausen had perfected Dynamation dinosaurs to the point where Valley of the Gwangi features some of his most striking work. The little Eohippus and sky blue Gwangi (whom the animator admits looks more like a Tyrannosaurus Rex) are beautiful creations..."
- Richard Scheib at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (3/5 Stars) (link) - "The story is fairly much King Kong (1933) relocated in the American West. There are a number of annoyingly familiar similarities to Kong – a journey into a land That Time Forgot, the capture of a mighty prehistoric beast, its display before the public back in civilisation and its subsequent rampage and destruction. What makes the rehashed story worthwhile is Ray Harryhausen’s stunning animation work. ... The verisimilitude of these sequences show Ray Harryhausen at the absolute peak of his art."
- Dave Sindelar at Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings (link) - "Seeing this Ray Harryhausen movie certainly makes you understand why the idea of pitting cowboys against dinosaurs was so attractive; it's seems a bit far-fetched until you see it in action, but then it works just fine. ... It's worst problem is that it takes too long to get to the action; the opening half of the movie spends too much time of relationships and characterizations that are neither novel in and of themselves or of any importance when the action gets underway."
Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
In turn-of-the-century Mexico, a Wild West showman and his cowboy adventurers manage to revive their failing rodeo with the attraction of a tiny prehistoric horse, until the horse is taken by a band of Gypsy dwarves and hidden in a cursed valley under the protection of the dinosaur-god, Gwanji. The cowboys follow the Gypsies to the valley, and are attacked by Ray Harryhausen's signature stop-motion-animated monsters, before capturing a dinosaur and bringing it back to Mexico, where the beast escapes and goes on a rampage, until the cowboys corner it in a burning church.
Comments, Trivia, Dedication
Associated Mythos Elements
- This film is pure over-the-top pulp weirdness: gypsy curses, a Wild West show full of cowboy adventurers, hidden valleys containing monsters from the dawn of time, and a dinosaur-god running loose in the streets of Mexico. Just re-imagine this film's story retold, with a lost city of Elder Things taking the place of a valley full of dinosaurs....