CITY OF THE DEAD - HORROR HOTEL (1960)

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City Of The Dead Cover I have made my pact with thee, O Lucifer! Hear me, hear me now! I will do thy bidding for all eternity. For all eternity shall I sit down and watch the following 78 minute movie made in 1960. It was Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey; and Starred: Christopher Lee, Dennis Lotis, with Patricia Jessel. May Beelzebub have mercy on my soul!


The City of the Dead


THE STORY:
Excuse me, Professor Driscoll (Christopher Lee). But you know how you told our class an old story about a witch being burned alive over in a small town called Whitewood, New England? Well, I was thinking of driving on out there just so I can finish off my term paper on witchcraft.

Once I arrive I will quickly book myself into a local hotel. Scout out the area. And try to see if anyone can tell me any more information about that witch you taught us at college. You know. That one named Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel).

Hey! Don't worry about me, Professor. If I see or hear anything strange going on, I promise I make sure that I'm safe and sound. After all, I am one of your brightest students: Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson).

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all gets the better of me when and I'm dragged down into a cellar and killed by a bunch of hooded nitwits. As a brother goes looking for his missing sister - a professor denies he's a real live mister - Patricia Russell (Betta St. John) gets absconded by a witch - and at the end of the day, beware my friend, cause life can be one hell of a b*tch.




THE REVIEW:
As much as I enjoyed sitting down and watching 'City of The Dead', at the same time the tale it ultimately conveyed was fairly similar to those horror movies I've seen many times before. For instance, you've got the token blonde girl who's bound to get herself into some sort of trouble sooner or later. You've got those weird looking characters who stare menacingly from the shadows. You've got that scene where a gas station attendant says, 'You don't want to go over there'. Plus you've got the black and white Smokey ambiance of yesteryear mingled in with a story-line that's easily divisible by two.   

City Of The Dead DVD
Well, from a structural perceptive, of course, this is a film of two equal halves. Whilst the first part centers on Venetia's character -- who does a great job of it by the way -- relaying a tale about a student who visits an old town to find out some more information about witchcraft. The second part of the tale centers on her brother -- as played by Dennis Lotis -- who's on a quest to find out why his sister has suddenly gone missing.

Now please don't get me wrong, dear reader. Aesthetically or structurally there's nothing wrong with his adventure at all. In fact, I got one hell of a kick out of its suspenseful nature and timely narrative. Because, as I implied previously, as a story in its own right it was very easy to follow, plus on occasion some of the performances did help prop it up a notch or two.

One of the stand outs for me was the inclusion of Christopher Lee's character -- Professor Driscoll -- as Chris really did amp up the 'horror factor' just by the way he held himself. Plus I must admit I can say exactly the same thing about Patricia Jessel's two characters as well -- the main witch and the hotelier -- because in my estimation she kicked it back 'witch style' in the villain stakes throughout.

On the flip side of things though I wasn't too keen on the rather obvious manner in which the tale eventually unfolded itself. Again, as I also implied previously, from the start of the movie I kind of second guessed what was going to happen to whom and for why. Plus to make matters even more tried and tested; some of the actors -- only some mind you -- didn't seem to add anything to the overall plot. In my opinion they were there for the sake of being there or just to make up the numbers. And to me their addition was hardly worth the time or the effort.


City Of The Dead 1960's Film Poster With Christopher Lee


City Of The Dead Vintage 1960's Film Poster
Anyway. I'm sure by now you got the basic gist of what I thought about this film. Whilst the good was good, the bad was also bad. And what now follows my friends, are your ever so humble filmic-facts. (1) 'Vulcan Productions' first released this £45 thousand pound thriller in England sometime in September, 1960. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Witches Burned at the Hotel' in Finland; 'Horror Hotel' in Hungary; and 'Coven' in Mexico. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at 'Nettlefold Studios', Walton-on-Thames, located within the English county of Surrey. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, '300 years old! Human blood keeps them alive forever!'. (5) At the time of production, the company that developed this film, 'Vulcan', was considered to be one of Hammer House's most imminent horror rivals. (6) Even though she's worked in the industry since 1957, Venetia Stevenson still received an 'introductory' credit for her role in this flick. (7) In June, 1963, this horror classic was re-released in America as one half of a double-bill with the West German 1959 sci-fi adventure, 'The Head'. (8) Quite a few noted sources have implied that this thriller was loosely based on the Alfred Hitchcock movie, 'Psycho', although it was released only three months afterwards. (9) After this story stabbed itself silly, Christopher Lee starred in the drama, 'Wild Kicks'; Dennis Lotis starred in the comedy, 'Maid for Murder'; and Patricia Jessel starred in another comedy, 'Beware of the Children'.


City Of The Dead / Horror Hotel Starring Christopher Lee


Overall I'd say 'City of The Dead' was a fairly fine yet predicable horror film to watch. So if you're ever in the mood for a timely slice of witchcraft wrapped up in murder mystery, you know what to do. Watch this atmospheric film or die. Or alternatively, take it away Iron Maiden, with this your following homage to...




Hahahahhahahahahha! Nuff said.

THE RATING: B-