Horror Hotel (1960)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Sep 1, 1960 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Wiener

The debut of director John Llewellyn Moxey (then billed only as John Moxey) is an atmospheric chiller filmed largely on studio sets with a cast that mixed veteran performers (Patricia Jessel and Christopher Lee) with young stars (the 22-year-old American Venetia Stevenson in the lead). It's a low-budget film that depends, like many of the horror films made for Britain's Hammer Studios, more on atmosphere than dazzling special effects. Released the same year as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, it shares that film's setup, of a beautiful young woman checking into a hotel that's a front for evil doings. Stevenson's Nan Barlow is an inquisitive college student investigating a New England town which was the scene of witchcraft trials some 250 years before. The film is less interested in making sense (the town is only partly inhabited by witches, so why don't they just take over so that none of the "civilians" can tell the outside world?) than in creating a mood of foreboding. Stevenson isn't much of an actress, but Moxey gives her enough support and offers a rousing, fiery finale in a graveyard to compensate.