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Old September 21 2013, 09:08 PM   #680
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Against my better judgment, I watched Valley of the Dragons. Despite being nominally based on a Jules Verne novel, it's just a run-of-the-mill giant-lizards-and-cavebabes movie, largely made of stock footage from One Million BC and similar movies -- even with a few clips from Rodan stuck in! Just about all the action involves cutting away from the actors to stock footage or showing the actors in front of a rear-projection screen showing stock footage. Really, really cheap filmmaking, which culminates in an overlong volcanic-eruption sequence that degenerates to the point of just being lengthy shots of fake lava flowing past the camera while an audio loop of rumbles, roars, and screams suggests something more exciting going on where the camera isn't pointing. Well, intercut with disturbing shots of lizards on burning miniature sets -- I doubt the animal action was monitored by anybody -- and a few random shots of Rodan flying around.

Still, it does have a couple of cute cavebabes, and there's a romantic swimming sequence which has some surprisingly racy shots, since the lead actress's swimming double (whose hair is visibly shorter) is wearing a fairly loose top and there are some rather revealing angles that I'm surprised they could get away with in a 1961 movie.

It has a weird opening, too. Not only do the opening credits twice say that it's based on Career of a Comet by Jules Verne, but the film opens with a narrator talking about Jules Verne and all the great stories he wrote, including Career of a Comet, which began in such-and-such, etc. It's weird to see a movie opening by saying "This is a story someone told, and it starts like this." Maybe they were overcompensating, given that it's not really a Jules Verne film at all. It borrows the Verne novel's setup of people being swept away on a comet, but only as a flimsy excuse to set up a prehistoric movie. And it gives one of its main characters the name of the novel's lead, but that's about it. Virtually nothing past the first reel has anything to do with Verne. So really it's false advertising.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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