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The Valley Of Gwangi Review

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A team of cowboys, led by the impresario figure Tuck Kirby, capture a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a hidden valley in Mexico. They then decide to reveal as the chief attraction in their circus with very bad results.

★★★★★

Jurassic Park with cowboys, or when Ray Harryhausen went West, what we have here is yet another fantasy action flick displaying that artist’s remarkable talents for stop-motion creatures, intermingled with B-movie actors, that is otherwise fairly predictable hokum. There is the chance to locate an amusing double reading here about cowboy showmen looking for the biggest spectacle ever — something of a satire on Hollywood perhaps? But it’s not really a film with subtlety or double-meanings on its mind, it’s a film about the perils of keeping a pet dinosaur in a confined space. As people should know, it’s just not fair.

And for those viewers who harbour a secret love for crackpot matinee madness such as this, it does enough to satisfy your lust for B-movie preposterousness. For one thing the Valley Of The Gwangi, as in the locale of mystical creatures down Mexico way, is guarded over by some eco-conscious gypsies, who have classified the place as Forbidden. These conniving cowboys should know better. And you just know, once the T-Rex has been caught these gypsies will infiltrate the circus…

In real terms, that is real fantasy terms, falls short of Clash Of The Titans and Jason And The Argonauts, but still hosts some impressive fusion of stop-motion dinosaur and the real-life footage, but the acting is low grade even on this level, and the story far less intriguing than those recreations of bits and pieces of Greek legend. Director Jim O’Connolly is aiming to paraphrase the great passions of King Kong, but falls a long way short, but the final scenes of the dinosaur loose in a giant cathedral have an operatic quality that belies the thinness of the premise.

Monster matinee fun but not of the highest order.

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