Horror Hotel (1961)
UK (dir. John Llewellyn Moxey)
Cast: Betta St John, Christopher Lee, Dennis Lotis, Patricia Jessel, Tom Naylor, Venetia Stevenson
Synopsis: A young coed goes to New England to write a paper on witchcraft. Her professor recommends that she spend her time in a small inn called the Raven’s Inn. There, she notices some strange happenings. And, then she discovers she is marked for sacrifice.
Review: Ever wonder where the sound clip that opens up the Rob Zombie song “Dragula” comes from? Answer: “Horror Hotel”! While this movie isn’t the greatest horror classic out there, it certainly has been referenced by everyone from Rob Zombie to the Misfits. It also hasn’t got the greatest premise either: a coven of witches burned at the stake somehow live on centuries later to conduct satanic rituals in the foggiest town in America. Seriously, I’m not joking about the fog. They must have cranked the fog machine to 11. There’s so much fog, it actually seeps into people’s homes and cars. It’s a touch over-dramatic. In addition to the fog, the town has a problem with creepy vanishing hitchhikers. I’m pretty sure the vanishing hitchhiker turns out to be one of the satanic cult members – in all honesty, he doesn’t really help attract fresh sacrifices for his coven, he more or less just creeps them right the fuck out. To be honest, if a hitchhiker disappeared from my car while we were in mid-conversation, I’d put the car in reverse and drive the fuck away. Period.
As I mentioned, the premise of the movie isn’t fantastic. The story-line pretty much revolves around a young college girl (kinda defiant) who heads to a former witch-burning location to research witchcraft (and probably to score brownie points with her professor – played by a young master of horror Christopher Lee!). After coming to the town, she realizes how weird people are (and how they have a fog/vanishing hitchhiker problem) tries to investigate, than gets sacrificed by a satanic cult. Her brother and her boyfriend discover she is missing and head to the town to investigate (along with the local bookstore owner who was one of the last people to see the girl alive). It’s pretty much too late to save the sister/girlfriend, but they do manage to put a stop to the cult and save the cute brunette bookstore chick in the process.
The ending is probably the only highlight of the movie. It’s a satanic showdown in the graveyard of an old church complete with the fog machine blasting at 12, eerie satanic chanting, and some super gothic landscaping. It’s not the greatest movie, but it’s probably a high point in the sub-genre of witch movies.