I can't believe I hadn't seen The Valley of Gwangi (1969) until now. My only excuse is that it was hard to get hold of for a while, at least on Netflix. Since it is still scary movie season, I though it would be a good creature feature.
It starts with a little Mexican Wild West circus. When cowboy James Franciscus meets up with the circus, their star act is a tiny eohippus - a living prehistoric proto-horse. The local gypsies (sure, gypsies in Mexico, why not) know that the Forbidden Valley holds many such creatures, but, you know, forbidden. Still, Franciscus and a proto-family including fiery circus owner Gila Golan and little Mexican orphan Curtis Arden form a posse to go in and bring out some cool monsters.
And boy do they find monsters! This is the beauty part: Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animated a bunch of cool dinosaurs, and pitted them against each other, against cowboys and even a T-Rex v. elephant fight in a bullring. These are not only as cool as Harryhausen's usual, but the addition of cowboys somehow makes it iconic. I never realized that cowboys and dinosaurs had to go together, but it's obvious now. I now understand some of the images I've seen in underground comix come from.
In conclusion, did anyone else notice anything ... interesting ... about the slit in the rocks that takes you to the Forbidden Valley? Yeah, us too. The way they forced them selves through was a little disturbing.