The Valley of Gwangi 1969 ***

Ray Harryhausen’s menagerie of stop-motion creations were the only show in town in the pre-CGI era, and James O Connolly puts the master to the test; The Valley of Gwangi features a miniature horsed called El Diablo, a pterodactyl and a few other dinosaurs, and Gwangi himself, a tyrannosaurus so personable he gets his own curtain-call in the final credits. This 1969 film takes a long time to get to the Valley, with the first half hour taken up with Tuck (James Franciscus) and his stuttering romance with circus performer TJ (Gina Golan). Her job is diving into a tiny pool while riding a horse, but Tuck is after bigger things; a hidden valley of exploitable creatures. Venturing into the valley, Tuck and his cowboy friends find a myriad of monsters, and whip together an unconvincing bamboo cage to transport Gwangi to a Mexican city, where the dinosaur runs amok in a local church. The Valley of Gwangi has a slow-burning plot for a dinosaur movie, but there’s plenty of enjoyably ropey dialogue before Harryhausen’s beautiful models take centre stage.


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