Ten Creepy! Scary! Shocking! LOL! Horror Film Moments: “The City of the Dead” (aka “Horror Hotel”) (IX)

It’s Halloween weekend and time for the ninth installment in my “cinematic moments” series, “Ten Creepy! Scary! Shocking! LOL! Horror Film Moments.” It’s a scene from a little 1960 film that is a sentimental favorite; it gave me the creeps when I first saw it on my black and white TV as a youngster. “The City of the Dead” is the extended British version of what was re-titled “Horror Hotel” for American audiences. This one has it all: gloomy atmospheric fog, a wretched graveyard resting on unconsecrated ground, witches, warlocks, thunder and lightning, human sacrifices, and the macabre presence of the great Christopher Lee. Tomorrow evening, TCM is showing this film back-to-back with “Psycho” and there’s a reason for it. SPOILER ALERT! This movie was released a few months after “Psycho”, but filming began in October 1959, one month before Alfred Hitchcock’s classic went into production. Both films use an infamous plot device that left audiences stunned: knocking off one of the central characters in the first reel!  It took 47 minutes to happen in “Psycho” and a little less than 40 minutes to happen in this film. If “Psycho” warns us of the dangers of taking a shower in the Bates Motel, “Horror Hotel” warns us of the dangers of descending into the caverns beneath The Raven’s Inn. Don’t these folks check out their accommodations before they book a room?! Don’t these people know the Codes and Conventions of a Horror Film?! Sheesh!

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation