Sunday, October 15, 2017

The City of the Dead (1960)

Who's In It: Christopher Lee (pretty much every Hammer horror film, Lord of the Rings, Attack of the Clones), Betta St John (Tarzan and the Lost Safari, Tarzan the Magnificent), Valentine Dyall (The Haunting), and Venetia Stevenson (Island of Lost Women)

What It's About: A young woman (Stevenson) investigates the history of witchcraft by visiting a remote village with a long, dark history. But practice of the occult may not all be in the town's past.

How It Is: Hard to talk about this one without SPOILERS, so beware.

The City of the Dead is a nicely atmospheric Satanic thriller with some cool performances. The structure threw me though, because I expected to follow Stevenson's character through the whole thing, but it turns out that she's basically Janet Leigh in Psycho. That was disappointing, partly because I liked her a lot, but also because the actual Final Girl (St John) is nowhere near as charming. In fact, she's downright dull.

The mystery of what's going on in the little village is predictable, but at least I was having fun watching Stevenson put the pieces together. Once she was out of the picture, I got impatient to wrap up.

Rating: 3 out of 5 midnight masses


Caffeinated Joe said...

That is too bad. In Psycho, I think Vera Miles is no Janet Leigh, but she holds her own, as does the rest of the cast and the film itself. I never thought about what would happen if after Leigh was out the rest of the film couldn't hold up without her. Sounds like this film is an example of that in practice. Can't say I remember it.

Michael May said...


And what if the movie let Leigh go a long way toward finding out for herself what's up with Norman before she was killed? That would make the Miles part anticlimactic. That's what City of the Dead does.


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