Monday, October 22, 2012

City of the Dead

"City of the Dead" (1960) starring Patricia Jessel, Dennis Lotis, Venetia Stevenson and Christopher Lee was originally released with the title "Horror Hotel".  This is another classic black & white horror movie that is loaded with atmosphere and suspense.

College student Nan Barlow (Stevenson) goes to the tiny village of Whitewood, Massachusetts to do research about witchcraft for her term paper.  Her professor (Christopher Lee) suggests the small village because it has a history of witchcraft.  We learn later that the professor was born in Whitewood.

The village hasn't changed much since the 17th century.  Nan stays at the Raven's Inn in the middle of the village right next to the church and the graveyard.  The Inn is run by Mrs. Newless, played by the terrifically intense Patricia Jessel, who right from the start you suspect isn't all she appears to be. The entire town is always engulfed in fog and all the scenes take place at night.  There's eerie scenes of Nan wandering through the foggy town and townsfolk stopping in mid stride to turn around and stare at her.  The scenes indoors are dappled with firelight from the fireplaces.  We soon learn the town is the ceremonial grounds of the coven of witches that still practices the dark arts.

This movie has a wonderfully spooky storyline and atmosphere and music to set the mood.  Watch it if you dare but beware of the trapdoor in the room off the lobby at the Raven's Inn!

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