The first chiller produced by future Amicus head-honcho Milton Subotsky, The City of The Dead (1960) remains a firm, somewhat overrated favourite of horror fans, particularly in the US, where it is better known under its alternative title, Horror Hotel. With its Lovecraftian plot, structural similarities to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and Massachusetts setting, it is not difficult to understand why the film is more popular with American audiences than British ones (especially since the nearly all-British cast of this Shepperton-made potboiler are required to put on some rather wobbly accents). An atmospheric but largely illogical story of human sacrifice in a mist-covered hamlet populated almost entirely by re-incarnated witches, The City of The Dead features some gaping plot holes and sub-standard performances from its leads, and gets by largely on its memorably gloomy photography, a shocking plot twist halfway through the film, and a trio of memorably evil villains in Patricia Jessel, Christopher Lee, and the description-defying Valentine Dyall.
This is a good DVD release (perhaps a little too good, considering the middling quality of the movie itself), featuring a BFI-restored print of the film, two separate commentaries, one featuring director John Moxey, the other with Christopher Lee, and two lengthy interviews, one with Lee, the other with female lead Venetia Stevenson. The original trailer is also included. I have remarked on this in other Amazon reviews, but I think the point is a good one and worth repeating here; if Lee can find the time to contribute to prestige releases of minor films like this, then surely he could bring something to new releases of infinitely better movies from his CV, such as Horror of Dracula or The Devil Rides Out?