TV Cream

Films: C is for...

City of the Dead

This black and white college Satanism third-stringer is of interest more historically than horrifically, being the first de facto horror production from Amicus – although to appease British business interests the film was attributed to Vulcan Productions (they of the legendary dolecom Chafed Elbows) with Donald ‘Orders Are Orders’ Taylor as producer. But it’s definitely Rosenberg and Subotsky in the driving seat, wanting to move on from those rock ‘n’ roll cheapies, with the latter fermenting a lifelong grudge against Hammer for rejecting his Frankenstein script in favour of one by Jim Sangster (sans Paul). What they got for their 45 grand was a dry-ice-drenched slice of hooded chiaroscuro intrigue, with Axl Rose’s mother-in-law letting her college research draw her into a New England based (though Shepperton-filmed) witchcraft circle, presided over by a becloaked Christopher Lee doing an outrageous American accent (incidentally this is one of the few horror films Lee talks about these days, as its modern setting allows him to pass it off as ‘American Gothic’, the silly old sod). But, to the rescue – why, it’s former Ted Heath Big Band singer Dennis Lotis! Valentine ‘Just follow the humming’ Dyall’s in there too. It’s cheap and efficient stuff, superficially similar to the ace likes of Night of the Demon, but nowhere near as good, and no doubt not all that much better in the US version, marketed, for some unfathomable but rather excellent reason, as Horror Hotel (“Just ring for doom service!”)

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