From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Valley Of Gwangi

Well it’s that time again when the giant Titans awaken and take over Rotten Ink and bring forth not only the second Kajiu Month but also add many more updates in my From Horror Movie To Horror showcases. And this time Kaiju Month is being done in honor of “Godzilla vs. Kong” that was going to be released in theaters on March 13, 2020 and now got moved to November 13, 2020 but remains for me is one of the year’s most anticipated films! To start off, I chose to cover “The Valley Of Gwangi,” an amazing film that pits cowboys against dinosaurs! For many fans of Kaiju films, this one walks the line as some do not consider it part of that subgenre. I am on the side that does belong as I feel that Dinosaurs are the O.G Kaiju monsters. So if you are ready to travel to the old west and fight for our lives against dinosaurs, let’s start this amazing update of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Valley Of Gwangi. I hope this month of updates helps make the film’s move a little less hurtful.

So before we dive to deep into The Valley Of Gwangi, let’s take a look at the film’s most vicious dinosaur the Tyrannosaurus Rex or T-Rex for short that is simply called Gwangi in the film! The Gwangi is a Kaiju that stands around 20 feet tall and is very aggressive in nature to any man, animal and dinosaur that crosses his path. The Gwangi uses his massive size to stomp on prey that is smaller than him and uses his razor sharp teeth to shred their flesh! He is also very fast moving for his size and can quickly catch prey that is on foot. The Gwangi’s massive and wicked appearance that includes purplish black hide also can shock human, animal and fellow dinosaurs alike into a state of total fear leaving them open for attack and sadly the kill. But while the Gwangi is a creature of rage, he has weaknesses that include the fact he is not all that smart and thinks more with his stomach than his tiny brain. He can also be kind of clumsy and easily outstepped and escaped from. The Gwangi can also be hurt or killed by other Kaiju’s as well as can take damage by fires and guns. While the Gwangi might be one of the weakest Kaiju’s we have covered on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update, but while he might not be the strongest, he still is one deadly and mean beast that is a killing machine.

So as you can see, the T-Rex called the Gwangi is a man killing, meat eating, scary as hell dino who really does define the term Kaiju. So now let’s take a look at The Valley Of Gwangi, the film that this Gwangi is from and as always our friends from IMDB will supply the film’s write up and I will write a little about the film’s production, release and my thoughts. So if you are ready like I am, let’s get to our look at The Valley Of Gwangi.

The Valley Of Gwangi (1969)

“A cowboy named Tuck Kirby seeks fame and fortune by capturing an Allosaurus living in the Forbidden Valley and putting it in a Mexican circus. His victim, called the Gwangi, turns out to have an aversion to being shown in public.”

Willis O’Brien is the mastermind and godfather of stop motion creature films came up with the idea of The Valley Of Gwangi that he was calling Valley Of The Mists as he wanted to make something of his own that was much like the story “The Lost World” written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! This was a dream project for him that would have had a T-Rex captured and forced to be in a Wild West show that would end with it breaking free, fighting lions and dying when it was knocked off a cliff by a truck. Sadly before the film could go into production, Willis O’Brien passed away and the equally talented Ray Harryhausen stepped in to do the film’s special effects. The film’s script was written by Willis O’Brien but also William Bast and Julian More with Jim O’Connolly coming on board to direct, and lastly they brought on Jerome Moross to do the score. Cast as the leads for the film were James Franciscus as Tuck and Gila Golan as T.J. with supporting actors like Richard Carlson, Freda Jackson and Curtis Arden. The film was shot in Spain and was released by Warner Brothers. The film was a hit at the box office and the year it was released it was joined by other Horror Classics like Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Nightmare In Wax, Night Of The Bloody Apes, The Castle Of Fu Manchu, Dracula The Dirty Old Man and The Oblong Box to name a few. Over the years the film has really built up a cult following and has been released on home media like VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray bringing this fun and cheesy film to a new generation of fans.

I can first remember seeing this film on broadcast TV when it aired on TNT Monstervision hosted by Joe Bob Briggs as well as on the TBS show Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grampa Munster…proving once more why Horror Hosts are so important when it comes to introducing monster kids to films. I can remember on both viewings loving just how cheesy and silly the film was, but loving the classic style effects. Over the years I kind of forgot about the film and it faded from memory, that was until about 10 years ago when I saw a clip of it of on a show and realized I needed to own it on DVD for my collection and quickly ordered it off Amazon, and after it arrived and I was able to watch it again I found myself turning back into that kid that watched Horror Hosts host it and loving every cheesy moment of it. I should also note when I was a kid, like most kids I was really into dinosaurs and watching a T-Rex chase around cowboys was amazing. When Rotten Ink started I knew I wanted to cover comics made by Star of course but also knew that I had to somehow cover the movie adaptation comics by DELL and besides the Universal Monster ones The Valley Of Gwangi was at the top of the list and with Kaiju Month and the From Horror Movie To Horror Comic theme this was the perfect time to unleash it on you readers. If you have not seen Valley Of Gwangi and enjoy films that have classic style stop animation and features a pissed off T-Rex wanting to make lunch out of cowboys, make sure to give this one a watch.

So as you can see, Valley Of Gwangi is one of those movies that walks the lines of many different genres as it not only is a Western and Horror but also has elements of Science Fiction as well as Fantasy. Again lets be honest the T-Rex really is the worlds original Kaiju and this species of Dinosaurs has been the main villain of many of films and fiction stories in novels and even comics. Now that we have talked about the man-eater T-Rex and the film he slaughters in lets get to the DELL Comic adaptation and see how the comic compares to the film. I want to remind you that I grade this comic on a scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you are ready, let’s head to the valley and see if we can dodge that pesky meat eating Gwangi.

The Valley Of Gwangi # 1  ***
Released in 1969     Cover Price .15   Dell     # 912 of ??

Tuck Kirby is a cowboy who visits his old lover and rodeo show runner T.J. Breckenridge with an offer to buy her prize horse on the orders of Buffalo Bill! She is still very mad at Tuck for breaking off their marriage and sends him away. While in town Tuck meets a young boy named Lope who helps him get a horse and introduces him to Professor Bromley who is a master of dinosaur bones. Carlos who works for T.J. has an idea how to use creatures found from the forbidden valley as a way for the rodeo to make extra money, but also Carlos is feeling a little rivalry with Tuck as he clearly has a crush on his boss T.J. But when Carlos shows off his discovery of a tiny horse, local gypsies show up and end up stealing the horse back to return it to the valley…but also the Professor now follows the gypsies in order to find the valley. And worse Carlos thinks he seen Tuck with the gypsy thieves stealing the tiny horse, and this breaks T.J.’s heart. The Gypsies set the tiny horse free and they think that by doing so they gave stopped a curse, but in reality they lead Tuck, Lope, Professor Bromley, T.J. and Carlos to the valley and after clearing up the mix up they all enter the valley after the tiny horse. While in the valley they are attacked by dinosaurs and almost all killed by a T-Rex they call Gwangi that has set his sights on them, as they try and escape the valley Carlos is killed and ate with Tuck and the crew using boulders to knock out Gwangi and they take the beast captive and put it on display at the rodeo. As Tuck and T.J get into a lovers fight over their future the gypsies strike again and set the creature free that goes on a rampage as hundreds of people try and run for their lives. And in the end Gwangi knocks over some candles and catches the area on fire and burns to death as Tuck and T.J find that they truly love each other.

This Dell Comics is a fantastic read and really makes me wish that they made more comics based on Horror and Sci-Fi films during this time. While this adaptation is really good I also need to stress that like all Dell movie inspired comics this one cuts out large parts of the film and characters to make it fit in a single issue. The plot of this is very simple and follows a down on their luck rodeo that hopes that a tiny horse that a worker found will bring money to them, but when the horse is stolen and a hidden valley is found they get more then they wish for when they unleash a T-Rex. Also throw in a love story between the female rodeo owner and a one time trick rider and you have the story of this comic. T.J Breckenridge is a young woman who loves her rodeo, but money has been tight and worse for her she has fallen in love with a trick rider who has showed back up in her life. By the end of the comic she must make a very hard decision of her career or true love. Tuck Kirby is a man’s man who has made his living entertaining the masses as well as being a risk taker. He also is a very honest and prideful man who does what he can to try and protect his friends, well besides the one time he left the Professor behind. I also want to say Lope, Professor Bromley and Carlos all are great characters who add to the over all story arch. The Gwangi is a killing machine who kills both dinosaurs and humans and seems that he greats joy of taking lives. To be honest the Gypsies are the comic’s main villains as they many times put human lives in danger and even in the end set the Gwangi free that leads to terror and even the death of the creature. The comic does not have any blood but does have death and does have terror filled moments. The cover is great and is taken from the movies release poster. The interior artwork is done by Jack Sparling and has that classic Dell Comics look, and that means its topnotch stuff for this company. Over all this is a great read and if you like the movie make sure to check this comic out. Also check out below for a look at the artwork of Jack Sparling.

Valley Of The Gwangi to me was a great way to start of this year’s Kaiju Month, and I really do hope that this month long updates help make the fact Warner Brothers moved “Godzilla vs. Kong” to November. And while Gwangi might not be the biggest of the Kaiju, he still is one of the icons of Giant Monster Cinema. The next Kaiju we will be covering is the one and only Gamera! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Kaiju Film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a giant turtle good time.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Die, Monster, Die!

In the 1960’s Dell Comics was a major comic publisher who made lots of great comics based on cartoon characters, TV shows and movies. And among these titles, of course, many Horror Films got the comic treatment with many being the Edgar Allen Poe films of Roger Corman as well as a handful of others. One of the Horror films that got the Dell Comics treatment was the 1965 film Die, Monster, Die! This film stars Boris Karloff and has inspired many creative minds even in the world of music like The Misfits who based a song around this movie. This Horror Film is based off the story “The Colour Out Of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft and did its part to shock movie goers with its thrilling, mystery style of horror. So it’s my pleasure to bring you this very classic horror version of one of my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates as we take a look at this creepy horror film and the comic based on it.

The first thing we need to look at is the film’s evil villain that is the wheelchair bound Nahum Witley and his radiated meteorite that he uses on planets and humans. Nahum is a man who likes to be in control and hide what he is doing as he is just following in the weird footsteps of his late father. Nahum has in his green house his mutated maid as well as planets and animals that are not under his control with his maid Helga hating him, and even his wife and daughter seem to have a dislike for him and his demanding cold ways. After an accident Nahum himself is mutated into a glowing green monster who is filled with rage as well as has the will to choke and kill his target victim! As a man he is not a threat as he is a weakened old man whose mind is being poisoned by the meteorite and cannot cause any damage. But as mutated Nahum, he is more powerful and has the power to kill with his bare hands as well as use his glowing green skin appearance to strike fear into the hearts of his victims. He also is radioactive and gives off a loud humming noise that is distracting to his human prey. The thing about Nahum is that he did not intend to be a bad person, it’s his vanity of wanting his estate to be beautiful that has driven him to be the keeper of the radiated meteorite, and when trying to rid himself of it, he soon pays the price of owning it as it takes him over. He does have a weakness that can lead to his destruction and that’s being radiated leaves his body very combustible and with a good fall or if hit hard enough, he will break apart and catch fire! While Nahum might not be the most powerful or spooky monster we have covered in one of these updates, he still is a deadly one if given the chance.

So now that we have learned about Nahum Witley and his meteorite that causes mutations, its time for us to take a look at the movie. As always we will take the films right up from our pals at IMDB and after I will write a little about the production of the film as well as some memories of watching it for the first time and my thoughts about it. So if you’re ready lets get to the film aspect of Die, Monster, Die!

Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

“A young man visits his fiancée’s estate to discover that her wheelchair-bound scientist father has discovered a meteorite that emits mutating radiation rays that have turned the plants in his greenhouse to giants. When his own wife falls victim to this mysterious power, the old man takes it upon himself to destroy the glowing object with disastrous results.”

Die Monster Die! was released in theaters on October 27, 1965 and was an American and British co-production that was produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff and released by American International Pictures. Jerry Sohl, who also wrote novels as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, wrote the script, and he based it on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, and the directing duties went to Daniel Haller who also directed the horror film The Dunwich Horror. The film brought on a solid and great cast with names like Boris Karloff, Patrick Magee, Suzan Farmer, Nick Adams and Freda Jackson all who delivered top notch performances. When released originally, it was shown as a double feature with the film Planet Of The Vampires and was met with mixed reviews from critics and movie goers. The film later found a fan base when it finally was shown on TV and later on home media like VHS and DVD. While not held as an all time classic horror movie Die, Monster, Die! has gained a cult following over its release.

The first time I saw this film was on cable when growing up. I can remember it was a weekend when it came on and I found it to be an entertaining and was always drawn to films that starred Boris Karloff. The thing that I have always liked about this film is the atmosphere of the old mansion and its over grown land that has think fog rolling around, the creepy silence of the massive home not to even mention the creepy mutated people, animals and plants! The other great thing about this film is that it mostly takes place at the Witley mansion and its grounds that is so far away from the town or any neighbors giving the viewers a sense of isolation and dread. The cast is fantastic with Boris Karloff as Nahum Witley who gives a fantastic performance as does Nick Adams as Stephen Reinhart.  The way they play off each other with distain and distrust is classic horror movie stuff. As a life long horror fan growing up watching everything from silent films to slashers films, I have always enjoyed this film and think that it’s a sometimes over looked horror thriller that blends both haunted house movie and alien unknown creature sub genres together and delivers a spooky film that relies on chills and not blood spills. If you have never seen this film and enjoy the works of Boris Karloff and even H.P. Lovecraft then make sure to check this film out, as it’s a good old school horror film with some great characters and a paperback novel like story.

Die, Monster, Die! Is an interesting film to make into a Horror Comic, as it will be very hard for DELL Comics to capture the eerie mood and atmosphere that made this film work and be so scary for viewers in the 60’s and beyond. I also want to point out that up to this point, I think this is the oldest film and comic adaptation that I have covered on one of my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates! So while we make our way through this fog, I want to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this issue in stock and making this update possible. So we are now at the Witley Mansion, and I think it’s time to relax for a moment and take a look at the comic adaptation of this 60’s horror fright flick! Oh yes and I must say that this comic was a part of DELL’s “Movie Classics” comic line.

Die, Monster, Die!  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1966       Cover Price .12       DELL       #603 of ?

Scientist Stephen Reinhart has received a letter to come visit the home of the woman he loves, Susan, who lives in the small town of Arkham. But Stephen soon finds that no one wants to drive him to the Wintley Mansion, and once he walks there, he finds that her father Nahum does not want him there, but seeing Susan makes him not listen to her father’s words. Susan shows Stephen around the mansion and introduces him to her sick bedridden mother Letitia who speaks to Stephen alone and begs him to take her daughter far away from the mansion! Stephen starts to notice strange things and finds books on the occult as well as the family butler faints for no reason. All the while Nahum is mad over the young man being there and argues with his wife about it and his secret work that he thinks will bring the family riches. While wandering the grounds of the mansion is a strange hooded figure with long fingernails who seems to spy on Susan, causing Stephen to really want them to leave as soon as possible. And later that night the Butler dies and Stephen watches in the shadows as Nahum buries him in an unmarked grave in the green house. Stephen needs to speak to someone about the weirdness of the family and goes to town and talks to the mostly retired doctor, who shares info about how some of the past Wintley members died. Once back at the mansion Stephen and Susan sneak into the locked greenhouse and find that animals and planets have grown to large size and are very dangerous! The couple soon go back to the mansion where Stephen goes to the cellar and finds the massive rock that is causing all the sickness and death as well as is confronted by Nahum who finally sees the errors of his ways, but before anything can be done, Letitia who is now transformed rushes outside into the rain and has the water drops kill her as those infected cannot get wet! After the burial of Letitia, the family makes plans to split ways as Susan is to leave with Stephen and Nahum goes back to the mansion to destroy the rock that, when hit, spawns a living energy that enters Nahum who attacks Stephen, as the possessed energy Nahum leaps at Stephen he falls to the ground dying on impact and catching on fire his remains and the mansion. In the end Stephen and Susan escape the burning mansion, and so ends the legacy of the Wintley family.

I want to start off by saying this while this comic adaptation is really entertaining and a good classic spooky horror comic read, it does however seem to be lacking all the great atmosphere from the movie and speeds up the plot taking away the suspense. The plot is very simple and has a young man visiting his girlfriend’s family at the request of the sick mother and soon finds that the family has a very dark secret that revolves around a rock that fell from space and the father’s quest to make the family’s name mean something again. Our stories hero is Stephen Reinhart, a man who is smart and in love with his lady who rushes to her hometown in order to visit and has been chosen by her mother to take the young woman away from their mansion home. Stephen also really heroes up when needed and saves the day numerous times including fighting off killer planets and even going toe to toe with a radioactive killer. Susan is a normal young woman who is trapped in a home that is surrounded by mystery and does not want to leave her sick mother behind.  She is also clueless as things around her are clearly odd and she does not question nor seek the truth until Stephen forces her to see the stuff going on. Letitia Wintley is a sickly old woman who is slowly losing her mind due to the radiation off the stone.  She loves her daughter very much and is starting to question her husband and his attentions as she slowly gets sicker and sicker until she turns into a ghoul that is killed by water. Nahum Wintley is a man who is proud of his family heritage, and even after it was run through the mud, he craves to make the name mean something again and thinks that a rock he found that fell from space and makes things grow fast is the key to become the star he thinks he should be.  Sadly this consumes him and forces him to make bad decisions that even leaves people he cares about dead. While he’s not a bad person, he is a very self absorbed person who by the time he snaps out of it is possessed and taken over by the rock that turns him into a walking radioactive unstable firebomb. The comic does have some classic spooky moments, and while it does have deaths, none of them are bloody and gory. The cover for this comic is a photo of Boris Karloff as Nahum Wintley with an ax and is pretty eye catching for fans of the film and classic horror actor. The art was done by an Un-Credited Artist and is pretty good stuff and has that Dell Comics charm to it, as strangely enough the character art looks oddly like the actors who played them. Over all this is a pretty cool comic adaptation that does an okay job of bringing the film to pages, only down side is plot had to be crammed down and the atmosphere of the film is missing. Check out the art below to see the art style used in this comic, and really is worth a read and owning for fans of the film.

It makes you wonder if DELL Comics would have lasted past 1974, what other Horror and Science Fiction films would have gotten the comic adaptation treatment? Then it also makes me wonder why no one has brought Dell back to the world of Independent Comics. Imagine some of the other Karloff titles they could have made that would have gone along with the likes of Die, Monster, Die! For our next update, we will be staying in the world of Horror Comics but will not be looking at one based on a movie but one from a indie company that much like Dell makes you wonder what could have come from them. The company is B-Movie Comics, and the title is Vault Of Doomnation. So until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for some spooky good times.