Valley of the Dead Parent Guide
Too much gore, too much complicated history, not enough campy fun for a zombie movie.
Parent Movie Review
It is 1938, and the Spanish Civil War has been raging for two years, dividing the country between the Nazi-backed Nationalists (fascists led by General Francisco Franco) and the socialist/communist/anarchist Republicans. Former lawyer Jan Lozano (Miki Esparbe) has found himself in trouble many times, most recently for headbutting a judge who happened to be a close friend of General Franco’s. Fortunately for Jan, his uncle is a high-ranking officer who can spare him from execution. Unfortunately, he’s been assigned a punitive mission to cross a dangerous valley between the factions and deliver a message, a mission that just might cause his death.
Along with his driver, an attempted deserter named Decruz (Manuel Llunell), Jan begins to cross the valley, only to find that the Republican soldiers are the least of his worries. Franco’s Nazi allies have been conducting experiments in the area, and it seems that they have found a way to create undead monsters, ravenous for human flesh, and completely uncontrollable…
Zombie action movies are all, broadly speaking, the same. A ragtag group of dissimilar individuals struggle to get along long enough to avoid being consumed by hordes of the shambling undead, trying to get back to a society that may no longer exist. Zombies can only be killed by shooting them in the head; there’s hope of a cure; at least one member of the group gets turned into a zombie and shows up later…. Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse. The only thing that really stands out about this one is that the diversity in the party is due to the ongoing civil war.
Setting this film during a civil conflict is one of my biggest problems with the production. There’s a certain comedic air around the group’s issues, which I don’t think meshes well with the brutal and violent differences that created a civil war in the first place. Frankly, I think I’d rather be eaten by zombies than buddy up with the fascists, but maybe that’s just me. Parents are more likely to be concerned about the buckets of gore dumped all over the set as zombies are shot, stabbed, and blown up regularly to keep the film moving along, or the huge volumes of profanity soaking the dialogue.
I don’t know that Valley of the Dead has much to offer anyone. Zombie fans have seen everything this movie offers but it’s been done better in other films. Anyone looking for an introduction to the zombie genre would do better to start with those films as well. And for younger and family audiences, this gore-fest offers too many content concerns, too much complicated historical context, and not nearly enough fun.Directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro. Starring Miki Esparbe, Aura Garrido, Luis Callejo. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release July 11, 2022. Updated July 14, 2022
Valley of the Dead
Rating & Content Info
Why is Valley of the Dead rated TV-MA? Valley of the Dead is rated TV-MA by the MPAA for language, violence, gore, and smoking
Violence: People are frequently shot, stabbed, blown up, bitten, and otherwise killed or injured. A large group of people are massacred. A man’s hand is amputated.
Sexual Content: There are a few crude sexual references, but nothing terribly explicit.
Profanity: There are 95 uses of sexual expletives and 38 scatological terms, along with occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen smoking tobacco, as was common at the time, and occasionally seen drinking.
Page last updated July 14, 2022
Valley of the Dead Parents' Guide
The Spanish Civil War was a very complicated conflict. How did it start? What were the tensions within the country that led to armed conflict? How did other nations react to the war? Why did certain nations support one side or the other? How did the Spanish Civil War influence World War 2? What were some of the consequences for non-combatants? How did the result of the war effect the future of the country?
While the zombie powder is a fiction, what kinds of experiments did Nazi scientists conduct? What were some of their goals? How did they go about their research? Who were the victims? Do modern institutions use any of their data? What are the ethical issues around using research data obtained under such conditions?
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For a much better film set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, try Pan’s Labyrinth. Another Spanish zombie flick is Rec, which was remade in the US under the title Quarantine. Recent Spanish productions include The Vault, Unknown Origins, and The Platform. Overlord follows an American paratrooper unit discovering Nazi zombie experiments after D-Day. Zombie fans should try World War Z, I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, The Crazies, and Dawn of the Dead. More comedic takes on the undead can be found in Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies, The Dead Don’t Die, Zombieland, and its sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap.