Valley of the Dead

  • 06 Aug - 12 Aug, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly

Valley of the Dead (now on Netflix) provides as logical an origin for the zombie phenomenon as I’ve ever heard: It’s the Nazis’ fault! The film drops a fresh-for-the-zombie-genre premise on us, that zombies are the product of evil experiments in chemical-warfare science by genocidal fascists. Spain, 1938. Not a great time. Civil war, and all that. And yet, life must go on, so a family gathers for a wedding until fascists led by an ice-cold Nazi Goebbels-like commandant gun everyone down in cold blood and then dose the corpses with some terrible chemical agent. All part of a Nazi experiment, no doubt, and one of the diabolical ones, as opposed to all the peaceful ones they performed. Elsewhere: Jan (Miki Esparbe) is a Franco-fascist captain and corporate lawyer, and therefore quite the double-whammy of a disreputable character. After he’s saved from the firing squad, he head-butted a judge who was almost Franco’s cousin. Jan can’t die quite yet because he has a suicide mission to fulfill first. It involves delivering an important envelope through a dangerous territory, so he pairs up with fellow condemnee Decruz (Manel Llunell), a teenage naif who sets off to probably get killed. As zombie-survival stories always go, the survivors must be joined by other survivors so some of them can cease to be survivors one by one as they run and hide and shoot and fight their way through the plot. Valley of the Dead never transcends the usual once-bitten-twice-dead clichés.