The City of the Dead (1960)

UK, 1959
76m
35mm, black and white, 1.66:1
mono, English

A British horror film directed by John Llewellyn Moxey. Production began on 12 October 1959.

Plot Summary

A young student, Nan Barlow, travels to the small New England town of Whitewood to research her thesis on . But she hasn't been there for long before strange things start to happen and it becomes clear that she's fallen foul of a coven of searching for a new sacrifice.

Credits

Crew
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
© MCMLX [] by Vulcan Film Productions
Britannia Films present a Vulcan Films production. Distributed by British Lion Films Ltd. in association with Britannia Film Distributors Ltd
Executive Producers: Seymour S. Dorner, Milton Subotsky
Produced by: Donald Taylor
Screenplay by: George Baxt
Story by: Milton Subotsky
Director of Photography: Desmond Dickinson
Editor: John Pomeroy
Music Composed and Conducted by: Douglas Gamley
Jazz by: Ken Jones
Sound Mixer: Richard Bird
Wardrobe: Frede Gibson
Make Up: George Claff
Hairdressing: Barbara Barnard
Special Effects: Cliff Richardson
Art Director: John Blezard

Cast
Dennis Lotis (Richard Barlow)
Christopher Lee (Professor Alan Driscoll)
Betta St. John (Patricia Russell)
Patricia Jessel (Elizabeth Selwyn/Mrs Newlis)
Valentine Dyall (Jethro Keane)
Norman Macowan (Reverend Russell)
Ann Beach (Lottie)
Tom Naylor (Bill Maitland)
Venetia Stevenson (Nan Barlow)
Fred Johnson (the elder)
Jimmy Dyrenforth (garage attendant)
Maxine Holden (Sue)
William Abney (detective)

Alternative Titles

La città dei morti – Italian title
Horror Hotel – US title
Stadt der Toten – German title

Extracts included in
Curse of the Blair Witch (1999)
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021)

Press

1960
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.27 no.322 (November 1960) p.154
Something of a horror comic, with dumb maid-servants, blind clergymen, knee-high mist and a college girl who punctuates her researches into demonology with remarks like “Ooh! Spooky, isn't it?”, this unhealthy little thriller fails to sustain the necessary exuberance and tension. Betta St. John is pleasant enough as the antiquary heroine, but the other young players are far too casual, and the witches overact monotonously. Nevertheless, despite its plodding “fourth form” treatment, the film is refreshingly free of sensational close-ups and does try instead to suggest the things that go bump in the night. – from an uncredited review

1981
TV Times 24-30 January 1981 p.30
A massive dose of witchery-pockery with Christopher Lee as the sinister head of the coven, and band singer Denis Lotis surprisingly turning up as the resourceful hero. In the second half, almost entirely set in the sinister village of Whitewood at night, Desmond Dickinson's photography really comes into its own, raising, with director John Moxey's help, some very genuine chills. – from a review by David Quinlan

References

Periodicals
The Daily Cinema no.8359 (19 September 1960) p.8 – review
The Film Daily vol.122 no.120 (24 June 1963) p.6 – review
Filmfax no.57 (August/September 1996) pp.46, 47 – Illustrated article
Kine Weekly no.2764 (22 September 1960) p.14 – review
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.27 no.322 (November 1960) p.154 – synopsis, credits, review (author not credited)
Motion Picture Herald vol.229 no.6 (20 March 1963) p.779 – review
Supernatural no.1 (January 1969) pp.40-43 – illustrated interview with Milton Subotsky (The Amicus brain by Gwynne Comber)
TV Times 24-30 January 1981 pp.30; 35 – review (by David Quinlan); listing
We Belong Dead Amicus Special Spring 2021 pp.5-10 – illustrated review (by Andy Stanton)

Books
The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.129 – illustrated credits, review
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.24, 46, 83-85, 101, 109, 131, 138, 145, 268, 276, 277, 309
Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.90
The Films of Christopher Lee by Robert W. Pohle Jr and Douglas C. Hart pp.76-77
The Shrieking Sixties edited by Darrell Buxton pp.14-15 – illustrated review
Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.215-218
Terror Tracks: Music, Sound and Horror Cinema by Philip Hayward (ed) pp.193
Top 100 Horror Movies by Gary Gerani pp.20-21 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.50
Video Watchdog no.88 (October 2002) pp.53-56 – Illustrated review (DVDs by Kim Newman)
X-Cert: The British Independent Horror Film: 1951-1970 by John Hamilton pp.72-77; 223-224