Valley of the Dragons/Prehistoric Valley (1961)

Valley of the Dragons (1961)‘The whole thing fairly boggles the mind.’

An Irishman and a Frenchman meet to fight a duel, but are interrupted when a comet strikes the Earth and sweeps them away into space. Deciding to work together to survive, they are staggered to find they now live on a prehistoric world…

Dreary B-Picture from writer-director Edward Bernds that bares a far closer resemblance to ‘The Lost World’ of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle than the Jules Verne novel ‘Off On A Comet’ on which it is allegedly based. Sadly, all the usual cliches are present and correct, including desperately unconvincing studio sets, monster stock footage and cave girls with perfect hair and teeth. Considering the brief 82 minute running time, the story drags from one padded scene to the next, providing no sparks of interest or creativity.

Our feuding heroes are Cesare Danova and Sean McClory, who are about to try and shoot each other over a woman when the world is hit by a large firework. Waking up after it’s all over, they find themselves in a strange world filled with potted plants and cardboard caves. A trip into the tunnels finds Danova attacked by a giant plastic spider, which looks remarkably similar to the prop featured in ‘World Without End’ (1956) which was also directed by the prolific Bernds. McClory saves the day and the two decide to forget their differences and team up. Later they are separated, but Danova ends up pitching woo with blonde cave girl Joan Staley from one tribe, and McClory makes goo-goo eyes with brunette Danielle De Metz from their hated rivals.

It’s fortunate for everyone that evolution has stopped on this comet, which is perfectly plausible if you examine the science (citation needed). This allows for an appearance by our old friends the fighting lizards from ‘One Million B.C.’ (1940); still going strong after over twenty years in the business, although forever typecast in monster roles. Their presence means that of course we get the smoking volcano which erupts barely a minute after making its initial appearance around the hour mark.

This is pedestrian stuff at best, which also throws in some brief footage of Japanese prehistoric bird ‘Rodan’ (1957), as well as Staley frolicking with Danova underwater in an animal skin bikini. The Italian leading man hit the big time within a couple of years, landing a major role in notorious Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor epic ‘Cleopatra’ (1963) and his subsequent career also included a role in Scorsese’s ‘Mean Streets’ (1973). After that, he made guest star appearances on countless US Network TV shows, such as ‘Cannon’, ‘Charlie’s Angels’, ‘The Love Boat’, ‘Gemini Man’, ‘Hart to Hart’ and ‘Fantasy Island.’ McClory fared less well but did appear in director John Huston’s final film ‘The Dead’ (1987).

Valley of the Dragons (1961)

‘Why do you suppose we never get to do comedy?’

Bernds was a journeyman director on the lower rungs of the Hollywood ladder and was responsible for over a hundred pictures. This included camp classic ‘Queen of Outer Space’ (1958) with Zsa Zsa Gabor, which he refused to watch in subsequent years because it reminded him of working with the actress. There was also ‘The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters’ (1954), the halfway decent ‘World Without End’ (1956) and horror sequel ‘The Return of the Fly’ (1959) which also featured the lovely De Metz.

Amazingly, Bernds was actually nominated for an Oscar for his 1955 comedy ‘High Society’ (1955)! Unfortunately, the Academy had meant to honour the Bing Crosby-Grace Kelly musical of the same name!

No chance of this ‘epic’ winning any awards…


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