“Young woman, leave Whitewood. Leave Whitewood tonight. For 300 years the devil has hovered over the city, made it his own. The people in it are his. Evil has triumphed over good here!” Sounds like a great vacation spot. Let’s book a room. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, Doc Rotten, and Jeff Mohr – as they visit the Horror Hotel as depicted in John Llewellyn Moxey’s The City of the Dead (1960) and frequented by Christopher Lee.
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 156 – The City of the Dead (1960)
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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: Milton Subotsky (story), George Baxt (screenplay)
- Producers: Seymour S. Dorner, Milton Subotsky, Donald Taylor
- Cinematography by: Desmond Dickinson (director of photography)
- Camera operator: Jack Atcheler
- Editing by: John Pomeroy
- Art Direction by: John Blezard
- Selected Cast:
- Dennis Lotis as Richard Barlow
- Christopher Lee as Alan Driscoll
- Patricia Jessel as Elizabeth Selwyn / Mrs. Newless
- Tom Naylor as Bill Maitland
- Betta St. John as Patricia Russell
- Venetia Stevenson as Nan Barlow
- Valentine Dyall as Jethrow Keane
- Ann Beach as Lottie
- Norman MacOwan as Rev. Russell
- Fred Johnson as The Elder
- James Dyrenforth as Garage Attendant (as Jimmy Dyrenforth)
- Maxine Holden as Sue
- William Abney as Policeman
Known as Horror Hotel in the States, Milton Subotsky (along with George Baxt) pens an atmospheric, creepy tale of witches, curses, and murder with The City of the Dead (1960). The film is a production of Vulcan Films (a precursor to Amicus Productions, the studio which continually challenged Hammer Films) and features a charismatic and chilling performance from Christopher Lee. The B&W cinematography by Desmond Dickinson is gorgeous, rivaling that of early Mario Bava, making the movie worth a watch on these merits alone. In fact, the entire cast is up to the task with the script revealing the influence of Subotsky’s favorite author, Robert Bloch (especially his novel Psycho, published in 1959) right down to the story’s twist and shock-ending. As Grue Believers certainly recall, director John Moxey is the talent behind the seventies classic, The Night Stalker (1972). You don’t want to miss this.
At the time of this writing, The City of the Dead is available for streaming from Kanopy and Tubi as well as other free streaming sources. The film is also available as a Blu-ray disc from VCI Video.
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. Up next in their very flexible schedule, as chosen by Doc, is Gorgo (1961). What will the Grue Crew think of this man-in-suit, kaiju movie made across the pond?
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