Sunday, July 30, 2017

The City Of The Dead (1960)

Starring Dennis Lotis, Christopher Lee, Patricia Jessel, Tom Naylor, Betta St. John
Directed by John Moxey
(actor & director credits courtesy

A college student travels to Whitewood, Massachusetts to do research on its past as a site of a historical witch burning, not realizing that a coven of witches still reside there.

This early horror film from writer/producer Milton Subotsky before co-founding the Amicus studio offers effective thrills and chills on a tight budget, as well as truckloads of fog to make the setting even more mysterious.  It would be a very enjoyable watch for any horror fan with excellent black and white cinematography from Desmond Dickinson, and although he's not the central character, Christopher Lee offers the proper notes of menace as an ancient warlock.  It's interesting how the plot somewhat mirrors Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, with Venetia Stevenson meeting her fate in the movie's first half, prompting her brother, played by Lotis, to come to Whitewood to investigate.  The supporting cast is also fine, with Norman MacOwan in particular a standout as the elderly blind priest who warns the coven's victims-to-be in a perfect performance.

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