Horror Hotel

Dir: John Llewellyn Moxey
Star: Patricia Jessel, Venetia Stephenson, Christopher Lee, Dennis Lotis

This enjoyably daft horror film has Stephenson as a history student, inspired by her lecturer (Lee) to visit a remote New England town and research a paper on witchcraft. Once she arrives at the inn run by Mrs. Newless (Jessel), she ignores all warning signs: the staring locals; a rant from a mad priest; her landlady's resemblance to a witch burned in 1692; oh, and the dead bird in her room, discovered immediately after reading about precisely the same thing in an old manuscript. How she got into college escapes me. As a result, her brother (Lotis) and boyfriend then arrive to look for the missing girl, just in time for the other major sacrifice of the witches' year - which in this movie, seems to occur about two weeks after the first one. Guess it's like the Thanksgiving/Christmas thing.

Christopher Lee is always worth watching, and delivers a fine performance here as the sophisticated urbanite who might not be what he seems [Check out his fabulous reaction when asked if he has ever met a real witch] The rest of the budget would seem to have been spent on fog; certainly, a logical script doesn't appear to have been a major consideration. The finale is something of a disappointment, even if we do learn that witches spontaneously combust when the shadow of a cross falls on them. Bit of a dumb idea to hold your ceremony in a churchyard then, eh? Still, there's more than a hint of The Wicker Man to this 1960 movie, and at only 76 minutes, it can hardly be accused of prevarication.

Mar 2004

Hotel Hell
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