"Just Ring for Doom Service"
The City of the Dead belongs to a subset in British horror cinema that explores the relationship between the arcane beliefs of witchcraft and the occult and contemporary modernity. Other notable examples include Night of the Demon (1957), Night of the Eagle (1962), Witchcraft (1964), and The Witches (1966). Although The City of the Dead was produced under the banner of Vulcan Productions, in many ways it can be considered the first production of Amicus. Max J. Rosenberg was an uncredited producer here, with Milton Subotsky taking the role of executive producer as well as contributing the story upon which the screenplay by George Baxt was based. In its own way then The City of the Dead is an historically important film, though you wouldn’t think so thanks to its descent into relative obscurity. This was a situation that was remedied somewhat by the DVD release courtesy of VCI in 2001. What makes the film particularly striking and unusual was the decision by the filmmakers to recreate the town of Whitewood, situated deep in the heart of the Massachusetts countryside, on a soundstage at Nettlefold studios, which was situated deep in the heart of the Surrey countryside in England. This gives the film a unique look, and a slightly surreal vibe, which is heightened significantly by Desmond Dickinson’s lustrous monochrome cinematography.
© Shaun Anderson 2011