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The City of the Dead1960

  • 3.8
THE CITY OF THE DEAD is an extraordinarily good chiller which still has the power to frighten fans of the horror genre. A college student, Nan Barlow is researching the history of witchcraft. Taunted by her brother and fiance, who have voiced their concern over her silly notions, Nan arms herself with resolve and drives into the small New England village of Whitewood. She is glad that at least she was able to count on the support of her professor. A bit anxious but consumed with curiosity, she will soon embark herself on the journey of her life!

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5 members like this review

The country cousin to the contemporaneous "Psycho," without the psychoanalysis and theft. Instead, the plot is set into motion when a comely coed decides to ... write a term paper on witchcraft and decides to do some archival research a few towns over. The movie would actually have been perfect as a silent film. It looks great--not unlike some of Val Lewton's productions a decade or so earlier--with evocative shadows and plenty of ambient creepiness, but the dialogue is so dumb the producers of Scooby-Doo could sue for plagiarism (even though that series started eight or nine years later). Still, it's amusing to hear the likes of Christopher Lee do an American accent when hailing Satan. As Oscar Wilde said, the U.S. is "the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." This U.K. production cashes in on the stereotype.

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top reviewer
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Member Reviews (26)

8dae6774defd1d0f91cc7dd2835ce800?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0083
top reviewer

The country cousin to the contemporaneous "Psycho," without the psychoanalysis and theft. Instead, the plot is set into motion when a comely coed decides to ... write a term paper on witchcraft and decides to do some archival research a few towns over. The movie would actually have been perfect as a silent film. It looks great--not unlike some of Val Lewton's productions a decade or so earlier--with evocative shadows and plenty of ambient creepiness, but the dialogue is so dumb the producers of Scooby-Doo could sue for plagiarism (even though that series started eight or nine years later). Still, it's amusing to hear the likes of Christopher Lee do an American accent when hailing Satan. As Oscar Wilde said, the U.S. is "the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." This U.K. production cashes in on the stereotype.

5 members like this review
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top reviewer

Actually, The City of the Dead is quite good. It has a solid story, and it moves at an interesting clip. The acting is good. There is plenty of an almost Lovecraft mood. The dated aspects do not hinder the movie. As another reviewer mentioned, there is a Psycho touch here--young woman goes to an out-of-the-way inn, and other stuff, which I won't mention. If you are a movie buff into witch movies, I suggest you see this one.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

1960 was the year movies twisted the knife. “Black Sunday,” “Peeping Tom,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “House of Usher,” “Psycho.” These films took Horror down a dark path, going further than most contemporary films of the genre were willing to go. “City of the Dead”—also from 1960—deserves a place among these groundbreaking films. Amidst the supernatural storyline, there is a stark fatalism that casts a long dark shadow over the narrative.

Some of the dialog and performances come off a bit stiff and dated, but then there’s the presence of a gentleman by the name of Christopher Lee. Lee’s role in “City of the Dead” is a reminder of his veiled intensity on the screen. Beneath the façade of urbane British civility, there lurks a snarling, bloodthirsty beast.

2 members like this review

this movie is worth watching for the atmosphere alone.

1 member likes this review

why is there a trap door in my room.....don't worry yourself about it!

1 member likes this review

A good movie with a great cast, not to mention nicely creepy atmosphere. Birder scorecard: A starling was used to mark Nan for sacrifice; a cedar waxwing for Patricia.

1 member likes this review

Cheesy, but cool 60's horror film.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

it was alright but note xceptional even for a 60s horror movie even wit a famous actor like christopher lee I thought it was slow in action and theme!!

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Tidy little occult thriller. No logic breaks, no detours. Just steady timing. Will say that some of the "American" accents are a bit off.

A number of very cool images alongthe way.

If you enjoy the Hammer Horror films of the 50's and 60's, "The City of the Dead" will feel very familiar to you. Hammer veteran Christopher Lee (looking a bit like Nicholas Cage in this film) helps drive the narrative. Oddly enough, another member of the cast looks a great deal like a Hollywood star of the era. Notice the resemblance between Patricia Russell (Betta St. John) and Janet Leigh.

This 1960 black and white version holds up well over time and is displayed in 16:9 format. The pacing and atmosphere are both eerie and chilling. The producer must have rounded up every fog machine in New England for the Whitewood scenes.

The noir photography is very good. the acting ok. The script is bad, really bad. There are many inconsistencies, like flashlights appearing in people's hands at just the right time with nothing to indicate how they got there. A character is missing for two weeks and the family and friends act like it is just rather odd. People scream warnings to leave, and the actors are quite blasé. It was good enough that I did watch it to the end.

5/5 stars if you're the sort of person who, like me, will watch any film that features Christopher Lee and a black mass.

The plot is full of holes,the Puritans seem awful Anglican, and the strange jazz-pop score cuts an otherwise spooky ambiance, but then all of that is part of the fun!

Coolly filled with a bit go all the witchy possibilities we can imagime .

I think this was good but i didn't see the end. I got skarit ;)

very good!

very eerie effects. Very good movie for this time period.

OK for a 60's horror film. Typical witch story.

Cute. Not a classic, but still fun.

I just could not do it !!! If you took a book on how to write a movie on witchcraft then used the step by step formular in a film~~~~~POOF~~~~~~here is that film~~~~~~

I wish there had been more Christopher Lee in it and, really, more of the heroine! What the heck?!

Great movie. Really enjoyed it.

If you can't burn 'em, Salem! Great atmosphere and design that is ultimately brought down by a ridiculous ending. Though, that is pretty par for the course in this genre. Worth a watch once.

much fun! better than I expected.

pretty good

Aka Horror Hotel, 1960 chiller about a New England community overrun by a witch's coven. With Christopher Lee. Not great, not bad, just so so, but loaded with atmosphere if you're into that sort of thing.

VERY GOOD FOR THAT PERIOD IN TIME.