|Venetia Stevenson & Christopher Lee|
Spoiler alert: skip ahead to the next paragraph if you don’t want a major plot point revealed. Some writers & viewers have compared the film’s structure to Psycho, which came out around the same time. Like that Hitchcock classic, this movie features a heroine (who appears to be the main character) that checks into an inn early in the film and ends up dead. Others follow to investigate her disappearance, and find secrets, terror and murder. It’s likely a coincidence, but it makes for an interesting comparison. The movie feels like an attempt to capture the feel of Hammer's successful horror product of the time. Horror Hotel has more in common with those films than the story of Norman Bates.
City of the Dead is an entertaining B movie with some good scares. This is Chiller Theatre territory (for those of us old enough to remember those days), which is where I first saw (and got spooked by) this spine-tingling tale, under its US title, Horror Hotel. It’s great fun to see Christopher Lee as Nan’s professor, who may know a lot more than he lets on about witchcraft, and the goings on in Whitewood. City of the Dead is worth a visit for those looking for some old fashioned scares. Make it part of your Halloween film festival this year! The film is available on DVD from VCI Entertainment. This release features the British edition of the film, which has a few minutes of footage cut from the US version. The disc also has some solid bonus content, including an interview with Lee and a commentary from director Moxey. Here's a link to the film's trailer, under its US title, Horror Hotel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF8PaKcJNWQ
Next up: The Halloween fun continues with House on Haunted Hill (1959)