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.