VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES (1946) Reviews and overview

 

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‘Blood madness… out of the fog… into your heart!’

Valley of the Zombies is a 1946 American horror film directed by Philip Ford from a screenplay written by Dorrell McGowan and Stuart E. McGowan, based on a story by Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe.

The Republic Pictures production stars Robert Livingston, Lorna Gray (The Man They Could Not Hang), Ian Keith (The Phantom of Paris; Fog Island), Thomas E. Jackson, Charles Trowbridge (The Mummy’s Hand), Earle Hodgins, LeRoy Mason, William Haade, Wilton Graff and Charles Cane.

Plot:

A shadowy figure climbs up and across a rooftop toward the office of Doctor Rufus Maynard (Charles Trowbridge). Inside, Maynard informs his partner, Doctor Terry Evans (Robert Livingston), and Terry’s girlfriend, nurse Susan Drake (Lorna Gray), that blood has again been stolen from the laboratory.

Once Terry and Susan leave, Maynard is abruptly confronted by the top-hatted figure. The threatening man identifies himself as Ormand Murks (Ian Keith) and reminds Maynard that five years previously, the doctor had placed him in a mental institute. Two years later, Murks was brought to Maynard for treatment, but he apparently died on the operating table of no apparent cause…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …it’s a spooky house movie, and a vampire movie, and a voodoo movie, and a mad science movie, all in just under an hour! With all those elements crammed so tightly together, I can almost forgive Valley of the Zombies for its conspicuous lack of both valleys and zombies. It’s even sort of a murder mystery …” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Wearily predictable, the script seems to have exhausted its supply of wit in finding the name Ormand Murks for its mad undertaker.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“On the one hand Valley of the Zombies is complete pathetic tosh, done without any style or wit, though on the other hand it manages to be entertaining and endearing, and of course naturally it may be funny to scoff at.” Derek Winnert

“There’s a lot of priceless silly dialogue here, but since the movie aspires to be something of a comedy, the laughs may be intentional. The Valley of the Zombies of the title is only referred to in passing; there’s only one Zombie, and he acts more like a vampire crossed with a mad doctor. A slight, but strange B horror flick.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

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“The pacing is good for the most part, with the character introductions being effective, the plot being set up well, and the film never rushes itself, despite its short length. The only drawback I had was that the two protagonists don’t get a whole lot of screentime at the start. This ends up being made up for as the movie progresses though.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

” …this is yet another one of those post-war 40s efforts where noir was swallowing horror a bit. You can feel that genre’s influence more than any other, with Murks’s undead status being the only thing that even pushes it into horror territory.” Oh, the Horror!

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“Keith is creepy in the role and the film is lean and mean, a great, spooky hour to kill.” Plan 9 Crunch

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“Director Philip Ford and cameraman Reggie Lanning do give the show a very nice look. The well-lit images are definitely not Poverty Row material, and Ford knows to milk shots of Ormand Murks slowly approaching the camera for maximum effect. Ian Keith works overtime to make Ormand interesting.” Trailers from Hell

Choice dialogue:

“You’re more stubborn than my wife!”

“Dying is getting to be a habit round here.”

“You might need help. And I’m good at screaming.”

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Cast and characters:

Robert Livingston … Doctor Terrance ‘Terry’ Evans
Lorna Gray … Susan Drake (as Adrian Booth)
Ian Keith … Ormand Murks
Thomas E. Jackson … Detective Blair (as Thomas Jackson)
Charles Trowbridge … Doctor Rufus Maynard
Earle Hodgins … Fred Mays (Fred Murks)
LeRoy Mason … Detective Hendricks
William Haade … Police Officer ‘Tiny’
Wilton Graff … Doctor Lucifer Garland
Charles Cane … Chief Inspector Ryan
Russ Clark … Officer Lacy
Chuck Hamilton … Officer Joe – The Driver (as Charles Hamilton)
Wheaton Chambers … Coroner (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Republic Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Technical details:

56 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1

Fun facts:

This was produced, along with Catman of Paris (1946), in order to create Republic’s first pre-packaged horror double feature.

The film makes reference to a zombie cocktail drink.

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