Blasts from the Past:The Valley of Gwangi (1969)

Thrown out of the Blast from the Past Chrono-Cannon we arrive in 1969 with the galloping tale of turn of the century Circus Cowboys and Dinosaurs with special effects by

Ray Harryhausen.

Yes, that’s right turn of the century Circus Cowboys v Dinosaurs. Job done?  You want more ?

Like a stunned workhouse beadle I shall serve some more up.

Buffalo Bills sends a buyer to pruchase a one trick pony Wild West show doing the rounds down Mexico way. However the show in question run by the photogenic & strangley Israeli accented redhead TJ (played by Gina Golan) have more thna one trick pony under their sleeve. Visiting comedy Brit palentologist announces the new star turn to be a prehistoric horse and it’s presense upsets a random Hammer Horror Movie Gypsy whose wandered in from the wrong film.

One attempted mini-nag theft later and the rough-riders discover a valley filled with predatory prehisotic beasties including the T-Rexalike Gwangi of the title.  All heading for a King Kong style ‘dangerous wild animal and crowds’ confrontation and a bit of big beast on big beast action.

And bizarrely at some point a T-Rex has a confrontation with a Tricertops type beastie.

All of which sounds a unkind and makes the film sound amateurish. It isn’t – it’s a well paced piece – in some ways very like a piece of exploitation cinema it knows the audience is there fore the large lizards and ensures it’s effect shots are well paced between bit of circus business and a ‘let’s retire, no let’s not’ love story which had a feel of Chuck & Sarah’s almost neverending waltz.  Some potential plot holes and addressed early on (namely guns,) and it’s a brisk 96 minute movie. The performances won’t win Oscars but all deliver what’s needed when it’s needed.

Now if only someone would remake it as a 225 minute long CGI laden star vehicle without an ounce of sincerity…on second thoughts check out the orginal.  Perfect for enjoying with a sunday brunch digesting inside one and a pot of tea on the go…a weird west wake-up.

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