"The City of the Dead", known in the US by the somewhat more rubbish title of "Horror Hotel" - which both says nothing about the plot and makes the film sound like a downmarket B-flick, which it most decidedly is not - is something of a neglected classic among horror films.
College student Nan Barlow (played by the lovely Venetia Stevenson) attends the classes of Professor Alan Driscoll (master of the macabre Christopher Lee). The syllabus of this particular educational establishment is somewhat odd, carrying as it does seminars on witchcraft and the occult: Prof Driscoll's speciality. Nan's interest is piqued by his tales of the witch trials of old New England, and the potty prof directs her to take a trip to the Raven Inn in the town of Whitewood, scene of an infamous witch burning. Of course, this being a horror flick, Nan's holiday does not go according to plan: picking up a mysterious hitchhiker played by the Man in Black himself, Valentine Dyall, being her first mistake.
Director John Llewellyn Moxey, who went on to make a name for himself in TV movies, proves himself in this - his debut feature - with a knack for roaming cameras, spooky angles, and a wonderful fogbound (and studio-bound) village set. The cast are uniformly good, particularly Sir Chris of Dracula, the aforementioned Mr Dyall, and Patricia Jessell as the reincarnated witch with a sideline as a small town hotelier.
The film has a great eerie atmosphere, and gives the feeling of an HP Lovecraft tale without being based on any of his stories. Highly recommended to any audience willing to enjoy a spooky thrill in the wee hours of the morn.