6.8/10
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The City of the Dead (1960)

Trailer
1:39 | Trailer
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:

John Llewellyn Moxey (as John Moxey)

Writers:

George Baxt (screenplay), Milton Subotsky (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dennis Lotis ... Richard Barlow
Christopher Lee ... Alan Driscoll
Patricia Jessel ... Elizabeth Selwyn / Mrs. Newless
Tom Naylor ... Bill Maitland
Betta St. John ... Patricia Russell
Venetia Stevenson ... Nan Barlow
Valentine Dyall ... Jethrow Keane
Ann Beach Ann Beach ... Lottie
Norman MacOwan Norman MacOwan ... Reverend Russell (as Norman Macowan)
Fred Johnson ... The Elder
James Dyrenforth ... Garage Attendant (as Jimmy Dyrenforth)
Maxine Holden Maxine Holden ... Sue
William Abney 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 time in a small village named Whitewood. He originally came from the village , he also recommends she stay at the "Raven's Inn," run by a Mrs. Newlis. When she arrives at Whitewood, she notices macabre happenings, Soon, things begin to happen in earnest, and 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:

Horror Hotel, next to the graveyard See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Released in the US on a double bill with The Head (1959) June 1963. See more »

Goofs

Patricia visits Whitewood on Candlemas, February 2. It is bitterly cold in New England at that time of year, but there is no snow on the ground. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
The Elder: Bring out Elizabeth Selwyn!
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Alternate Versions

The original U.S print (titled "Horror Hotel") is around 2 minutes shorter than the "City Of The Dead" version, and is missing most of the cursing made by Elizabeth Selwyn to the villagers during the opening burning and some of the conversation between Driscoll and Barlow as they discuss belief in the supernatural. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inside the Tower (2015) See more »

User Reviews

One of the best B&W horror movies of the 60's.
23 October 2002 | by Rastacat1See all my reviews

I first saw this movie in the mid 70's late one Saturday night on Sinister Cinema in Portland, OR and it kind of scared the crap out of me. They replayed it about a year later and same thing: It scared the crap out of me. I have now seen it 6 or 7 times over the years including twice in the last few months with the VCI Entertainment version of the dvd.

The movie doesn't scare me like it used to, but it still amazes me how it transports me into it's own world of the fog shrouded town of Whitewood, Massachusetts. The story itself is common enough: A woman (Patricia Jessel) is burned at the stake for witchcraft and she leaves a curse on the people of the town as she is consumed by the flames. Forward 300 years to the present day and we have Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevens) as a self determined college student who decides to write a paper on witchcraft. Her professor, Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee), gives her directions to the town of Whitewood where 300 years earlier an alleged witch was burned at the stake. She goes to the town and after a few days disappears. Her brother then goes to the hotel where she was last seen, and runs into all kinds obstacles, not the least of which is the innkeeper of the Whitewood Inn, who just happens to look exactly like the witch burned 300 years earlier, and also Christopher Lee who happens to be a long ago resident of Whitewood

There is an old, blind priest who stays in his church despite the fact that he has no congregation. His granddaughter, Betta St. John (Patricia Russell), who seems to not be a witch, and has just returned to the town to take care of her grandfather, runs the local used book and antique store. She had befriended Nan before she disappeared and is now working with her brother, Dennis Lotis (Richard Barlow), to try and find out what happened to Nan.

Of course they run into the witches along they way and there is a showdown of sorts. The strength of this movie is in it's crisp acting and smart script. Especially notable are Patricia Jessel, Christopher Lee and Venitia Stevens. Despite it's low budget, the director, John Llewellyn Moxey, has made an altogether unforgettable film. This ranks right up there with other unique horror movies such as Carnival of Souls (1962), The Wicker Man (1973), The Thing From Another World (1951), and Village of the Damned (1960).

The VCI Entertainment release is just what this movie has needed for years. An excellent transfer at 1.66:1 with two extra minutes of footage added from previous video and dvd releases. There is a commentary by director John Llewellyn Moxey and another separate commentary by Christopher Lee. There are also three interview segments with Lee, Moxey and Venetia Stevenson. Pretty impressive extras for a 40 year old low budget movie.

The commentary by Christopher Lee is interesting in that he has not seen this movie since it came out 41 years earlier. He is watching it with an interviewer from VCI who knows more about what is going on in the movie than Lee does. But Lee's ability to recall information about people and give anecdotal information is unsurpassed. He is literally a walking, talking encyclopedia of info on people he has worked with over the years.

This is one of my prize dvd's and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. The VCI version lists for around $25 but I have seen it cheaper. There are also several basic versions without the extras (or extra footage) of the movie along with another movie on one dvd. Most notably the Diamond Entertainment version where it is packaged along with Carnival of Souls for under $10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

City of the Dead See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP45,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Vulcan Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(uncut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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