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HORROR HOTEL ($30) is an obscure, but quite enjoyable little horror outing set in a strange New England town with a history of witchcraft. Originally titled CITY OF THE DEAD, this British import starts out in the town of Whitewood with the burning of a witch named Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel). As she is about to be burned, Selwyn calls upon her dark master and curses the town. At the point, the film skips forward several centuries to the classroom of Professor Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee) who is recounting the tale of Elizabeth Selwyn. Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson), one of the professor's more eager students goes to Whitewood to do research for her paper on witchcraft and promptly disappears.

Nan's brother Richard (Dennis Lotis) goes to Whitewood in search of his missing sister only to discover a town of strange, elusive people unwilling to aid in his search. As he digs further into Whitewood's history, it becomes apparent that the town is home to a coven of witches who are responsible for whatever fate befell his sister. The cast of HORROR HOTEL also features Tom Naylor, Betta St. John, Valentine Dyall, Ann Beach and Norman MacOwan. HORROR HOTEL is an atmospheric and creepy little film thanks to the fast pace and suspenseful little touches deployed by director John Llewellyn Moxey. The cast is great, especially Patricia Jessel (in dual roles) and Christopher Lee who delivers a fairly convincing American accent.

Elite Entertainment has done a fairly good job of bringing HORROR HOTEL to DVD. The film is presented in wide screen that frames the film at roughly 1.75:1. Compositionally, the film appears balanced, without severe compromises to the edges of the screen. HORROR HOTEL was transferred from a 16mm black and white source that looks fine a lot of the time. The DVD comes with a disclaimer stating that this is the best element available at the time that the transfer was made. Of course, a 16mm print doesn't have the resolution of 35mm, therefore there are problems with film grain and the image looks somewhat washed out at times. Contrast is less than ideal in places causing a loss of detail in intensely white areas of the image. I didn't detect any overt problems with digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby digital monaural soundtrack was fairly clean sounding with intelligible dialogue.

The simple interactive menus contain the scene selection feature and offer access to a theatrical trailer.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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