The City of the Dead (film)

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This article is about the 1960 horror film. For other uses, see The City of the Dead.
The City of the Dead
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (as John Moxey)
Produced by Seymour S. Dorner
Max Rosenberg (uncredited)
Milton Subotsky
Donald Taylor
Screenplay by George Baxt
Story by Milton Subotsky
Starring Venetia Stevenson
Christopher Lee
Dennis Lotis
Betta St. John
Valentine Dyall
Patricia Jessel
Music by Douglas Gamley
Ken Jones (jazz)
Cinematography Desmond Dickinson
Edited by John Pomeroy
Distributed by British Lion (UK)
Trans-Lux (US)
Release dates
September 1960 (UK)
1963 (US)
Running time
76 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget ₤45,000[1][2]

The City of the Dead (U.S. title: Horror Hotel) is a 1960 horror film directed by John Llewellyn Moxey and starring Christopher Lee and Valentine Dyall. Produced in England but set in America, the British actors were required to speak with American accents throughout.


On the recommendation of her professor (Christopher Lee), a young female student (Venetia Stevenson) travels to the fictional Massachusetts town of Whitewood to do some research into witchcraft. She finds the town occupied by the reincarnation of an infamous witch (Patricia Jessel) who was burned at the stake in the 17th century. To sustain her immortality, virgins must be sacrificed to the witch every year – and this year, the student is the chosen victim.



The script was originally written by George Baxt as a pilot for a TV series starring Boris Karloff. The producer Milton Subotsky rewrote it to be longer, including a romantic subplot about the boyfriend who goes looking for Nan after she goes missing. Finance was obtained from TV producer Hannah Weinstein along with money from the NFFC.[1]

Production began on 12 October 1959 at Shepperton Studios with a budget of £45,000. Milton Subotsky was credited as the film's executive producer. The film was produced by Vulcan Productions, although because it was made by Subotsky and Rosenberg it has been considered the first Amicus Movie.[2]

Censored lines[edit]

In the American version, a few minutes of dialogue were removed, including these lines near the beginning, which fit in with and clarify the plot of the movie:

  • "I have made my pact with thee O Lucifer! Hear me, hear me! I will do thy bidding for all eternity. For all eternity shall I practice the ritual of Black Mass. For all eternity shall I sacrifice unto thee. I give thee my soul, take me into thy service."
  • "O Lucifer, listen to thy servant, grant her this pact for all eternity and I with her, and if we fail thee but once, you may do with our souls what you will."
  • "Make this city an example of thy vengeance. Curse it, curse it for all eternity! Let me be the instrument of thy curse. Hear me O Lucifer, hear me!"


The film was a box office disappointment although it did make a small profit.[1] It was not released in the US until 1963 under the title Horror Hotel.


Heavy metal band Iron Maiden use scenes from this film in the music video for their song "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter". King Diamond also uses clips in his "Sleepless Nights" video as do punk band UFX in the video to "Bitch", while Rob Zombie used Christopher Lee's opening words to similarly preface his track "Dragula" from Hellbilly Deluxe. In addition, the punk band Misfits wrote a song called "Horror Hotel" (the American release title).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c John Hamilton, The British Independent Horror Film 1951-70 Hemlock Books 2013 p 72-77
  2. ^ a b Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 12-15


  • Rigby, Jonathan (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-01-3. 

External links[edit]