Directed by Philip Ford [Other horror films: N/A]
Possessing a somewhat misleading title, Valley of the Zombies is an okay way to spend 56 minutes. It’s a lower budget film, to be sure, but it still has that snappy dialogue that made the time period so fun, and an occasionally interesting (if not original) plot.
From the title, one might expect some voodoo shenanigans (as that was the cause of zombies pre-1968, the most classic examples being I Walked with a Zombie and White Zombie), but that’s not what this is at all. There is someone who might count as a zombie, and there is in fact a reference to the “valley of the zombies,” but the bigger culprit is occasional hypnotism.
I don’t know the name, but Ian Keith did a pretty solid job as the menacing killer. He just has that face, and despite the cheapness of the film, did have a good presence. Not unexpectedly, Robert Livingston (Riders of the Whistling Skull) was a bit generic, but he still worked well with Lorna Gray, and the pair had some good snappy dialogue, which is always a joy to hear.
Of course, this being an older movie, Gray didn’t have that great of a range. She was great with her quips, no doubt, but she also got scared at the sound of a windowblind crashing down, not to mention fainting when she heard the word ‘zombie.’ Fainting. sigh Sometimes the sexism and racism (as Gray here took the place of someone like Mantan Moreland à la King of the Zombies) in these older films are hard to swallow, and I just wish they didn’t have to throw in “Oh, the woman is scared of everything” trash. It just gets old.
Otherwise, Valley of the Zombies is competent. The finale (taking place on a fog-covered building roof) was pretty solid, and like I said, Ian Keith did really good in his threatening role. It’s also quite digestible, at a solid 56 minutes. To be sure, there’s nothing spectacular here, but there’s also not anything making the film unworthy.
Really, this isn’t a good movie, but it’s definitely not what I’d call a bad movie. Even for the time, it might have been a bit outdated, but it was serviceable, and while below average, when it comes to 40’s horror, you could certainly do a lot worse.