City of the Dead (Also known as Hotel Horror) is a black and white film from 1960 directed by the Hammer House of Horror.
The movie opens up with a 17th Century witch burning in Massachusettes where the a suspected witch is put to death by fire. It then cuts to a university lecture (Lecturer played by Christopher Lee) recounting the events of the witch burnings. Young student Nan (a strange name for an attractive young lady) is interested in the history behind the burings and goes off to visit a town, Whitewood where the burnings took place.
She arrives safely to the town, checks into a local hotel called “The Ravens Inn”. She then starts to look around. Nan finds an old church and has a look. The townsfolk no longer attend the parish, but the old priest who runs it is still there and warns her not to look into the dark secret the town holds. Of course, she keeps digging. Nan then goes back to the hotel but feels something is amiss with the hotel. She notices all guests have left early and finds out they’ve all gone to attend a “Candlemass” ritual. She explores under the house and finds her self the subject of a strange occult ritual which she has disturbed. After that she isn’t seen or heard from again. Does Nan survive the town of Whitewood? Again this is where you’ll have to watch the film to find out!
City of the dead is a great example of old school horror. It has a feel even older than the 1960’s. Like many films of this vintage its a little slow on the action up front but relies on great story telling and atmosphere to create the mood. Which I have to say it does well.
Over all I liked the film. If you’re looking for straight out gore this may disappoint but either way its a cool watch. Despite the “X” rating on the poster, this movie would probably earn itself a “PG” rating nowadays.
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