Blu-Ray Review: The City of the Dead

Christopher Lee was the most iconic face of horror cinema. He was one of the most prolific actors around in a career in film and television which spanned eight decades. His face, voice and figure is synonymous with terror. Lee’s career began to hit its stride in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s. He’s best-known for his work with Hammer Films, making over twenty films with them over the period between 1957 and 1976. He also made several other films during this time, including John Moxey’s The City of the Dead.

Nan Barlow, a young pretty co-ed (Venetia Stevenson), is fascinated by her professor’s (Lee) class on witchcraft she’s taking at a New England college. On his recommendation, she travels to the small town of Whitewood; the scene of the burning of Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel) for being a witch. She stays at the mysterious Raven’s Inn, run by the irascible Mrs Newlis (Jessel). When Nan disappears, her brother (Dennis Lotis) and boyfriend (Tom Naylor) set-out to Whitewood to discover the truth.

The first thing you notice about the beautifully restored 4K version of The City of the Dead is the sheer amount of fog which swirls around Whitewood. Moxey makes great use of this to create a haunting and eerie atmosphere. It’s a beautifully shot film and the town itself is so creepy and full of spectres. Based on a story by Milton Subotsky and cleverly scripted by George Baxt (Circus of Horrors/Night of the Eagle), The City of the Dead is an entertaining chiller resplendent with creeping mystery.

Special Edition Contents:

•  New 4K digital restoration by the Cohen Film Collection and the BFI

•  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of two versions of the film: The City of the Dead and the alternative US cut, Horror Hotel

•  Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio

•  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

•  Audio commentary by film critic Jonathan Rigby, author of English Gothic: Classic Horror Cinema 1897-2015 and Christopher Lee: An Authorised Screen History, recorded exclusively for this release

•  Audio commentary by director John Llewellyn Moxey

•  Audio commentary by actor Christopher Lee

•  Archive interview with John Llewellyn Moxey

•  Archive interview with Christopher Lee, conducted by critic Brad Stevens

•  Archive interview with actor Venetia Stevenson

• Trailer

•  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Vic Pratt

The City of the Dead is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Video on Monday 24 April.

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