Blu-ray Review – The Valley of Gwangi

Valley of Gwangi 

Director: Jim O’Connolly

Screenplay: William Bast

Minutes: 96

Year: 1969

Score: 5.07

Release: Warner Archive Collection


I have said before that I am a fan of animated dinosaur pictures. They are fun and don’t force themselves upon you. When you have a film called Valley of Gwangi with a dinosaur on the poster you know that you are in for a fun couple hours of nonsense.

From Warner Archive:

Cowpokes head into a mysterious Mexican valley to head ’em up and move ’em out. But they’re not looking for little doggies. They’re looking for great big dinosaurs.

James Franciscus stars in this thunderous adventure featuring amazing special effects by Ray Harryhausen [The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Clash of the Titans (1981)]. Franciscus plays a Wild West showman who leads his riding and roping crew into the title region, where prehistoric giants still roam. Thanks to Harryhausen wizardry, fantastic creatures lunge, fight and rampage in scene after dazzling scene (including an awesome sequence where the cowboys rope Gwangi, a razor-toothed allosaurus). Saddle up and join the excitement.

There have been too many releases of classic, 1960’s, creature features. I love them, sure, but aside from a touch of novelty it is rare to see them as high art. This is a problem. Considering the high pedestal we set Harryhausen on today it is hard to watch his craft surrounded by bland stories and low-brow acting.

The Valley of Gwangi is a gimmick flick, like Cowboys Vs Aliens, except it is cowboys vs dinosaurs.  It is goofy. Not bad, just goofy. My primary issue with this release is fatigue. It has its value and I am glad to have it on my shelf, but there have been at least three creature feature (dinosaur) releases in as many months. Spread them out and it will be easier to find a broader audience.

The film is available at and even if I speak disparagingly I must admit that I enjoyed this film and, if you enjoy the style, recommend it to everyone.

Director: 5 – Cinematography: 6 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 2 – Main performance: 5 – Else performance: 3 – Score: 5 – Sound: 5 – Story: 6 – Script: 4 – Effects: 9 – Design: 5 – Costumes: 6 – Keeps interest: 5 – Lasting: 5