The City Of The Dead
| 76 MINS | BW | AMICUS |
The opening scene begins in 1692 and shows a witch named Elizabeth Selwyn being burned at the stake. Just before her death, however, she made a pact with the devil to eternally create evil in exchange for eternal life.
Modern Day: Hoping to do some research for a paper on witchcraft, undergraduate Nan Barlow goes to the village of Whitewood on the recommendation of her professor, Alan Driscoll, after he tells her that it was the site of witch-burnings many years ago.
Staying at Raven’s inn, a hotel owned by a strange woman called Mrs Newless, Nan decides to study more about the little town. Everything about the town is odd. The only seemingly normal person she interacts with is Patricia and it is she who lends Nan a book about witchcraft. Nan learns from the book that that very night, February the first, is Candlemas Eve, the day that witches make a sacrifice of a young girl.
Nan is eventually lured into the basement which is actually a satanic shrine. One of the members of the satanic cult is Nan’s professor, Alan Driscoll. Mrs Newless hold a dagger aloft announces that she is Elizabeth Selwyn and brings it down at the strike of thirteen.
Nan has now been missing for two weeks and her boyfriend Bill and brother Richard are becoming concerned by her disappearance. Patricia is also concerned and she investigates eventually meeting up with Bill and Richard. Police discover that Nan left Raven’s inn abruptly.
Richard and Bill descend on Whitewood. Richard discovers absolutely no trace of his sister and meets Reverend Russell, Patricia’s grandfather, who tells him about the satanic cult that rules over the town. Bill has crashed his car on the way to Whitewood and is becoming embroiled with the demonic cult.
Patricia is kidnapped, for sacrifice in the same basement that Nan was killed, Richard finds her and discovers that not only is Mrs Newless the witch Elizabeth Selwyn, but Professor Driscoll is himself a centuries-old member of the coven and sent Nan to Whitewood to be sacrificed. Richard becomes a captive of the cult. Then, an injured Bill gets involved and, with the help of the cross, burns the witches. In the melee, Bill is killed. Newless flees, but she is dying as the sacrifice was not completed. Later, she is found by Richard and Patricia in the hotel, burnt.
BritishHorrorFilms: City Of The Dead is an astonishing monochrome feast. The fog-bound sets are incredible, the shocks are extremely shocking, and the performances are uniformly great.
BritMovie: City of the Dead is no “gore for the sake of gore” movie even though there is no shortage of human and animal blood being spilled in it.
AllMovie: The film is less interested in making sense than in creating a mood of foreboding.
From poster: 300 years old! Human blood keeps them alive forever!
- Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
- Produced by Seymour S. Dorner & Milton Subotsky & Donald Taylor
- Music by Douglas Gamley & Ken Jones
- Cinematography Desmond Dickinson
- Production company Amicus Productions ( Vulcan )
- The US title was Horror Hotel
Dennis Lotis — Richard Barlow | Christopher Lee — Prof Alan Driscoll | Patricia Jessel — Elizabeth Selwyn / Mrs Newless | Tom Naylor — Bill Maitland | Betta St. John — Patricia Russell | Venetia Stevenson — Nan Barlow (as Venetia Stephenson) | Valentine Dyall — Jethrow Keane | Ann Beach — Lottie | Norman Macowan — Reverend Russell | Fred Johnson — The Elder | James Dyrenforth — Garage attendant | Maxine Holden — Sue | William Abney — Policeman