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International To My Eyes...CITY OF THE DEAD from Arrow in the UK (1 Viewer)


Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
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Apparently a second VCI Blu-ray is coming in the U.S. from VCI. All I have is this UK Arrow release, and at this point can only opine on it.

First, it's a pretty cool movie. If you've not seen it, it is highly atmospheric considering its low budget in 1960. It was shot in black and white, and is presented here in two slightly different versions with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The U.S. theatrical is 76 minutes and has a title card reading "Horror Hotel." The international release is two minutes longer and is a somewhat different edit: <http://www.dvdcompare.net/comparisons/film.php?fid=36404> Christopher Lee is the most recognizable cast member, but the whole entourage is pretty good here. The witchcraft angle provides a strong sense of dread. In one of the commentaries, the film is compared to PSYCHO in terms of its structure. Without spoiling anything for first-time viewers, I can see that.

As for transfer quality, there is good news and bad news. First, the bad: there is little if any appreciable film grain visible here. It isn't "smeared," but it just isn't there to my eyes. Also, in numerous shots, the brighter areas (skin and white dresses, etc.) seem way overly bright, and this might be a contrast issue. But perhaps this was also true of theatrical prints or even the negative, because the backgrounds in these same scenes are beautifully lit and very detailed. Most scenes are simply wonderful to look at: the interiors of the wood structures are very detailed, and the contrast is excellent, with excellent shadow information. So, probably, the one element that would engender objection with this transfer would be the lack of natural film-like grain structure. Who knows whether or not VCI will improve on this.

The disc is well-presented. The case includes both a Blu-ray (region B locked) and a Pal DVD. The transfer comes from a 2k digital restoration from the Cohen Collection negative. Sound is uncompressed 1.0 pcm mono. English subtitles are available. There are three audio commentaries (!), one by film critic Jonathan Rigby, another by a moderated discussion with Christopher Lee, and the last by director John Llewellyn Moxie, There are interviews with Lee, Moxie and star Venetia Stevenson. Finally, a photo galley and trailer are included.

With the caveat that this transfer does not resemble a true film-like experience, I would recommend this disc for purchase. But perhaps one might wish to await reviews of the coming VCI release before making the investment.


Senior HTF Member
Dec 13, 2006
Real Name
Thanks for this post.

I have to say that the idea that VCI, whose discs are usually poor, might provide something superior to Arrow, whose discs are usually superb, is highly original! :)

Winston T. Boogie

Senior HTF Member
May 31, 2004
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
I can confirm that the Arrow is at present the best way to see this. It looked very good in my home theater, perhaps a bit overly bright but I only recall seeing this film on television in the 1970s and 1980s and thinking it was a very dark film...to the extent that it seemed hard to see what was going on at times. No issues like that with this disc. It is a very good film and wonderfully atmospheric, I watched it as part of my October horror fest. Yes, grain may not be very visible but this is the best I have ever seen this film look by miles. The first VCI disc was not good, not sure what they are up to with the new one but my guess would be they want to get somewhere close to this Arrow transfer...or maybe they have been able to license the same transfer for their new disc.

No clue...but I do believe if you like the film or have an interest buy the Arrow with no concerns.

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