If you want a great underrated or overlooked film, ”Horror Hotel” is definitely a movie for you. ”Horror Hotel” also known as ”The City of the Dead” is a 1960 occult horror film directed by John Llewellyn Moxey. This film along with other films like ”The Curse of the Demon” , ”Burn ,Witch, Burn” and ”The Devil’s Bride” were some of the first films to deal with witchcraft and the Devil before films like ”The Omen” or ”The Exorcist”. So that makes this film pretty ahead of its time and pretty unique. This film also relies on atmosphere instead of special effects. Another factor that makes this film stand out is that Christopher Lee stars in it. When people think of Christopher Lee, they normally think of his Hammer films, but this one is over looked. This film also is well made as well and is worth anyone’s time.
The film opens up with some villagers about to burn a witch. Before they can burn her she calls on Lucifer to put an everlasting curse on the town. Fast forward centuries later a college student fascinated by witchcraft is going to write a research paper on the subject. Her professor (played by the legendary Christopher Lee) tells her she should visit the same town where the witch was burned centuries ago to write her report on witchcraft. She goes to the town despite warnings from friends and family. There she finds a mysterious, foggy and dark town that seems to have never evolved with modern times. She then gets a warning from a priest who tells her that ”In this town evil prevails”. Little does she know the town is still connected to witchcraft and an annual ritual takes place in the town and a sacrifice must be made… And the sacrifice is her!
This is atmospheric and has kind of a Mario Bava/”Black Sunday” vibe to it. So if you’re a fan of Mario Bava you will like this film.The foggy mysterious town is the perfect horror atmosphere full of dread and tension. Also on a personal level, I have seen some crazy stuff as a horror fan, but for some reason this film creeped me out. The suggestions to Satan are chilling for a black and white film. Another unique aspect of this film is that it can be so creepy but be in black and white.This film has stood the test of time well. It does not depend on visual effects-only creativity. Also this film is in black and white and that really helps this film as well. I could not imagine this film in color because it would take away the from the creepy atmosphere this film has.
If you want an outside of the box horror film, this is for you. This film has several elements that modern horror films today lack, such as atmosphere, and creativity.
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