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When we first meet Val, he and Earl made their living as hired hands but eventually they got sick enough of their job that they packed up their belongings and left Perfection for Bixby. On the way there both he and Earl discovered the first victims of underground animals including Edgar Deems and Old Fred. They where also the first in the film to survive an encounter with a Graboid when a Graboid tongue grabbed onto the rear axle of their truck after they discovered a landslide caused by the beast when it killed two road workers. It was also Val and Earl who indirectly killed the first Graboid by causing it to ram head-first into a concrete trench. At the end of the film he killed the last Graboid who also happened to be the one who grabbed onto their truck at the beginning of the film, dubbed 'Stumpy', by scaring it into throwing itself through a high cliff face by using one of Burt Gummer's home-made pipe bombs. After the last Graboid was killed, Val and Earl proceeded to leave Perfection Valley for Bixby. As revealed by Earl the first Graboid threat made him rich and famous, and he is married, presumably to Rhonda LeBeck. His current location is unknown but it is believed that Ortega had New Yorker Grady Hoover drive him to Earl Bassett's place they may be living in New York.
Originally, he was looking for a girl who matched his list of ideal qualities in physical appearance. However, while dealing with Graboids alongside Rhonda LeBeck, his perspective of women changed, and in the end he fell in love with her. Near the start of the first film, he began wishing he’d accomplished more in his life. At times he shows insight, as he figured out that Graboids hunt by sound, and later uses this tactic to kill Stumpy.