DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

HORROR HOTEL (CITY OF THE DEAD) (director: John Moxey; screenwriters: George Baxt/Desmond Dickinson/story by Milton Subotsky; cinematographer: Desmond Dickinson; editor: John Pomeroy; music: Douglas Gamley; cast: Patricia Jessel (Elizabeth Selwyn/Mrs. Newless), Dennis Lotus (Richard Barlow), Christopher Lee (Professor Driscoll), Venetia Stevenson (Nan Barlow), Betta St. John (Pat Russell), Valentine Dyall (Jethrow Keane), Tom Naylor (Bill Maitland), Norman Macowan (Reverend Russell), Ann Beach (Lottie), Fred Johnson (Elder), Jimmy Dyrenforth (Garage Attendant), Maxine Holden (Sue); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Donald Taylor; VCI Entertainment; 1976-UK)

"A low-rent Psycho-like flick that's more creepy than scary."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-rent Psycho-like flick that's more creepy than scary. John Moxey ("Death Trap"/"Richochet") directs best when keeping the b/w film atmospherically foggy and ghost-like. Writers George Baxt and Desmond Dickinson base it on the story by Milton Subotsky.

College student Nan Barlow (
Venetia Stevenson, daughter of film director Robert Stevenson) is studying witchcraft in the history class of Professor Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee) and encouraged by him to go to the isolated village of Whitewood, Massachusetts to do first-hand research for a week or two on a term paper on the legends of witchcraft. Nan checks into the decaying Raven's Inn, built on the site where in 1692 the witch Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel) was burnt at the stake and in retaliation she put a curse on her executioners. The proprietor is the starchy Ms. Newless (also Jessel) and the only inn employee is the frightened mute girl Lottie (Ann Beach). Only zombie-like figures are seen in the village dressed as monks and do rituals for devil worship.

On Candelmas Eve, Nan disappears down the trap door in her room when entering it after hearing chants. When her science professor brother Dick (Dennis Lotus) and her concerned boyfriend Bill Maitland (
Tom Naylor) fail to hear from her, they go their separate ways to the village. Dick finds out that sis borrowed a valuable book on witchcraft from Pat Russell (Betta St. John), the newly arrived to the village granddaughter of the blind Reverend Russell (Norman Macowan). The rescuers, however, arrive too late, as Nan is a made a human sacrifice for uncovering the witch's coven and that Ms. Newless is Elizabeth Selwyn. Tom, though critically wounded by a thrown knife from Newless, lifts the cemetery cross and its shadow destroys all the witches and allows Dick and Pat to safely flee.

It's competently filmed, and provides fine entertainment.

REVIEWED ON 10/18/2016       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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