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The City of the Dead (1960)

A young college student arrives in a sleepy Massachusetts town to research witchcraft; during her stay at an eerie inn, she discovers a startling secret about the town and its inhabitants.

Director:

(as John Moxey)

Writers:

(screenplay), (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Tom Naylor ...
...
...
...
Ann Beach ...
Lottie
...
Reverend Russell (as Norman Macowan)
Fred Johnson ...
James Dyrenforth ...
Garage Attendant (as Jimmy Dyrenforth)
Maxine Holden ...
Sue
William Abney ...
Policeman
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Storyline

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 <jak@wbst207v.xerox.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 September 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City of the Dead  »

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Box Office

Budget:

£45,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(uncut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's American release under the title of "Horror Hotel" OMITS the following lines during Elizabeth Selwyn's burning at the stake in the first scene, which are critical to fully understanding the plot but apparently offended American censors:

Elizabeth Selwyn: "I have made my pact with thee O Lucifer! Hear me, hear me! I will do thy bidding for all eternity. For all eternity shall I practice the ritual of Black Mass. For all eternity shall I sacrifice unto thee. I give thee my soul, take me into thy service."

Jethro Keane: "O Lucifer, listen to thy servant, grant her this pact for all eternity and I with her, and if we fail thee but once, you may do with our souls what you will."

Elizabeth Selwyn: "Make this city an example of thy vengeance. Curse it, curse it for all eternity! Let me be the instrument of thy curse. Hear me O Lucifer, hear me!" See more »

Goofs

Although it might be more cinematic, witches were never burned at the stake in New England. They were either hanged or pressed (by large rocks being placed upon them by villagers). Burnings of witches happened in England. See more »

Quotes

Patricia Russell: Dick! This are the dead that killed Nan.
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Connections

Referenced in The Blair Witch Project (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Chris Lee is a Menacing Presence
16 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

1960 was a year in which three horror films on a similar subject matter known as The Haunted Palace, Horror Hotel, and The Mask of Satan were released. The locales are worthy of Lovecraft. The opening scene is inspired by the pre credits sequence of Mario Bava's debut, The Mask of Satan(1960). Horror Hotel(1960) has an Italian flavor with its atmosphere and mystery. Whitewood like Dunwich is a cursed and unsavory little town. An underrated horror flick of the 1960s. Patricia Jessel gives a commanding and menacing performance as Elizabeth Selwyn.

Christopher Lee gives an excellent turn as the mysterious Professor Alan Driscoll. One of his best roles in a non hammer horror film besides Horror Express(1972), The Whip & the Body(1964), and The Wicker Man(1974). Comes after his famous roles for Hammer studios in Curse of Frankenstein(1957), Horror of Dracula(1958), and The Mummy(1959). About a young student who goes off into an old New England town to investigate the phenomen of witchcraft. After she disappears her brother looks for her with sinister results. There are tads of Dennis Wheatley in Horror Hotel(1960). John Moxey films the horror with finesse.

Professor Alan Driscoll in a way i alike the character of Mocata. The scene where the boyfriend of the missing girl crashes into a tree after seeing the image of Selwyn burning and laughing is something out of The Devil Rides Out. Christopher Lee does a good job in hiding his rich British voice. May be the influence for Lucio Fulci's Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi/City of the Living Dead(1980) and Dario Argento's Inferno(1980). For example Inferno(1980) uses a couple of this film's plot device. An intriquing line in Horror Hotel comes from Christopher Lee in the early first half when he says, "The basis of fairy tales is reality, basis of reality is fairy tales". Seems to implie that legends and myths are based on something true.


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