Response to Peary’s Review:
In his short review of this British horror film — a distinct precursor to Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960), released in Italy later that year — Peary writes that while it’s “no classic”, the film possesses “creepy atmosphere plus a few good shocks”. He points out that the “early death of [the] lead actress in [an] inn makes one think quickly of [the] same year’s Psycho,” and that it “contains many plot elements — as well as symbols — that would be used in [the] 1973 British film The Wicker Man.” In sum, Horror Hotel seems to be primarily remembered in comparison with other similarly themed or plotted films of the era. As Richard Scheib writes in his review for Moria, it was:
… the first film to patent the theme of reincarnated witches, Satanic covens and sinister New England towns where the inhabitants mutter portents and run before nightfall … [and it] … sets up much of what would later become the cliches of the genre – the reincarnated witch, the Satanists hiding behind the guise of respectable townspeople, the occult tomes that provide information about the situation… [all] images [that] would become the staple of the Italian Gothic movement…
So, is Horror Hotel worth watching on its own merits? Scriptwise, no: as DVD Savant writes, “we know we’re in one of those horror movies where certain things have to be taken for granted”; indeed, you’ll roll your eyes at the characters’ denseness. But atmospherically speaking, it’s a winner, and a visual treat all the way. Fans of the genre probably won’t be too disappointed.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Patricia Jessel as Elizabeth Selwyn/Mrs. Newless
- Highly effective sets and cinematography
No, but it’s certainly worth a one-time look.