A young coed (Nan Barlow) uses her winter vacation to research a paper on witchcraft in New England. Her professor recommends that she spend her time in a small village called Whitewood. He... See full summary »
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A young coed (Nan Barlow) uses her winter vacation to research a paper on witchcraft in New England. Her professor recommends that she spend her time in a small village called Whitewood. He originally cam from that village so he also recommends she stay at the "Raven's Inn," run by a Mrs. Newlis. She gets to the village and notices some weird happenings, but things begin to happen in earnest when she finds herself "marked" for sacrifice by the undead coven of witches. It seems that the innkeeper is actually the undead spirit of Elizabeth Selwyn, and the "guests" at the inn are the other witches who have come to celebrate the sacrifice on Candalmas Eve. As one of them said when Nan walked away, "HE will be PLEASED." Written by
John A Kostecki <email@example.com>
"City of the Dead" aka "Horror Hotel" was the first film made by Amicus Productions, one of Hammer's most successful rivals in the 60s and 70s. At the time of this film, however, the company was known as Vulcan Productions. See more »
When they are waiting in the cemetery for the clock to strike thirteen, the clock actually strikes 14 times. See more »
I saw this as a Creature Feature movie in New York back in the early 1970s when I was a young kid. It was called Horror Hotel, and it was one hellaciously scary movie.
I have never seen this movie again on television, and I bought the DVD to see if it was as good as I remember it. Like The Manster, it has aged very well.
The effects and the mood of Horror Hotel are excellent. The harsh black and white makes the shots much starker than they would be in color. The close-ups of the faces of the vengeful crowd in the opening scenes creates a grim mood which drives the movie.
Horror Hotel has some outstanding scares. It takes no prisoners, and like some of the best horror movies, nobody is guaranteed to survive.
The head witch, Elizabeth Selywn is awesome. Patricia Jessel plays two roles. One as the original Selwyn witch who is burned at the stake in 1692, and then as the proprietor of the Hotel, Mrs. Newless. In both roles she personifies evil, and her evil laughter is one of the scariest I have ever seen or heard. Sadly, Ms. Jessel passed away in 1968 when she was still young.
Christopher Lee has a supporting role. He starts off as a kindly college professor and as the movie unfolds we discover that Lee knows a lot more than he shares. His evil glares are better than a ton of special effects. This is one of those Christopher Lee films where he has a relatively small role, but he puts so much malevolence into his performance, that you know that he is doing some bad things off-camera!
The actors that play the good characters do not stand are average college folks and townspeople. The do not stand out much except for Ann Beach, who plays the mute girl that keeps trying to help the potential victims. Her efforts to help people while avoiding detection are very compelling, since she cannot communicate very easily with others. However, the best roles and the best acting is in the hands of the villains.
The climactic confrontation that ends the movie is not just terrifying, but it is also full of drama, suspense, and great special effects (for 1960). The director, John L. Moxey should be given credit for making an excellent film. He was also the director of many movies and such TV series as The Night Stalker, Kung-Fu, Mannix, Mission Impossible, and more.
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