Tuesday, November 5, 2019

By the Gods!

Gil Perkins, Sean McClory, Cesare Danova, and Joan Staley in VALLEY OF THE DRAGONS (1961)

An unlikely story loosely based on "Career of a Comet" or "Off on a Comet" by Jules Verne: In Algeria, two dueling men are swept up and away to a world by a comet that grazed the earth. They find dinosaurs and monsters, and cave people living there, which is totally different than the Vernes story. A strictly B-movie retelling is actually pretty entertaining in spite of its improbable concept. The movie includes stock footage from ONE MILLION B.C. (1940) and RODAN (1956) among other movies. The movie utilized lizards, iguanas and animals and edited them to look like humongous prehistoric beasts. It also includes an unconvincing big spider. Though this is a low budget movie, it was produced by Columbia Pictures which means the movie has some quality to it. The black & white cinematography is gorgeous and effective and the acting, certainly by Cesare Danova, grounds the production. McClory is okay. From his full face, one would expect he would be overweight but he's actually very slim. Gil Perkins is an Australian actor who looked quite fit for an old man. And Joan was mainly a TV actress, with over 40 TV credits, including BATMAN TV series.

One might categorize this as science-fi-fi but, like so many other PEPLUM films, the world they eventually end up in belongs to the PEPLUM/Prehistoric genre. Some scenes appear to be lifted directly from HERCULES (1958), including an elaborate underwater scene with Danova and Staley in some lovemaking. Mike Lane, who played Hercules in ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES (1962), is a bearded caveman (see below). Italian producers most likely hired him from his appearance in this Hollywood production. There's a 'David & Goliath' scene between McClory and Lane. Lane looked more buff in this than he did in ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES.

1 comment:

Richard Svensson said...

The alligator vs iguana footage is so familiar that it takes me out of any movie where it's spliced in. Except for "Tarzan's Desert Mystery", which is where I first saw it. Reprehensible as this use of living animals is, the scenes work best in the original "One Million B.C." I especially like the long shot where an unconscious Victor Mature drifts down a river, while various prehistoric monsters lounge around on the vista in the background. "One Million B.C." producer Hal Roach ought to have made a fortune from leasing his lizard footage to all those movies.

Karel Zeman's Czech film version of Verne's "Off On a Comet", "Na Komete", is a much better version and has fantastic scenes with hordes of stop-motion animated dinosaurs and reptiles. I think that movie started the trend of adapting "Off On a Comet" with added dinosaurs (which the novel has none of.)