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Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy. A 17th-century British witch hunter during the time of Cromwell's reign travels the English countryside as he does his dirty work for the strict purpose of lining his pockets. Completely taking advantage of the civil strife, he terrorizes people and bends them to his will, forcing confessions from witches" until a military officer risks treason to seek revenge against him. 1968/color/86 min/NR.
By consensus, Vincent Price's finest performance among his gallery of horror-movie rogues comes in Witchfinder General, the intense 1968 film that erased any hint of camp from the actor's persona. Price plays Matthew Hopkins, a sadistic 17th-century "witchfinder" who uses barbaric methods to identify (and invariably execute) supposed witches. Along with Price's disciplined work, Witchfinder is also the best film by the talented and ill-fated director Michael Reeves, who was only 24 when he shot the movie. Blessed with a great feeling for English landscapes and an eye for blackly telling details (peasants roasting potatoes in the ashes of a burned witch), Reeves was clearly a promising filmmaker, who died in 1969 from a drug overdose. The most vivid thing about Witchfinder General is the way it explicitly links paranoia and witch-hunting to misogyny, and how female sexual energy is seen by the ruling order as a threat. The final sequence is perhaps the most harrowing fade-out of any Sixties horror picture, and offers no comforting resolution.
Included on the Witchfinder package is a disc of three featurettes: a half-hour bio, the 12minute Art of Fear that looks at his horror work (with the expected focus on the other films in this box set), and a 15minute piece on other actors working with Price (although these actors are not interviewed, just the gallery of experts who speak in the other docs). The Witchfinder disc includes a valuable backgrounder on the movie, including the story behind the original U.S. release of the film, titled The Conqueror Worm (to cash in on Price's connection to Edgar Allan Poe works, which this is not), plus a commentary with producer Philip Waddilove and Michael Reeves' favored leading man, Ian Ogilvy. --Robert Horton
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Top customer reviews
Witchfinder General is actually more of a drama than its often-referred-to "horror" moniker. There's no horror here. It is actually a film based on factual events/people. Price is Matthew Hopkins, a real person (though at the time of his witchfinding, was much younger than Price), who stole a royal edict to search out witches. This was convenient for Hopkins, because England was in the midst of a civil war and he was able to take advantage of the times and illegally hunt down witches and then see to their execution.
Though the film takes creative license with events and their timing, there is much VERY MUCH to like here. The drama is real and the acting is superb. Ian Ogilvy is dashing as our hero. Vincent Price's Hopkins is so subtly creepy that you will find yourself uncomfortable.
Not particularly gory - not gory at all really - there are certainly some tense moments when the witches are done-away with.
If you don't expect historical accuracy, but want to learn a bit about what this real life person was doing and get entertained along the way - check this film out!
The torture and violence is graphic, but doesnt linger so long on screen as to become distasteful, as in say: "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.". While this film is definitely not for children, it could probably be safely viewed by an intelligent 11-13 kid without totally warping their mind. There is a love scene, but no graphic nudity. To my recollection there is no real swearing (cursing). There is some gore, but again, tame by the standards of today's R-rated movies.
I wont give away the plot, as the less you know about the movie before viewing, the more you will get out of it. In short, it is a stylistic piece of horror set against a historical backdrop. Many scenes are set against the rural English countryside and village which adds to the atmospheric intrigue. The ending is not easily forgotten and may really shock younger viewers.
A good, creepy, Halloween movie starring Vincent Price.
A fine addition for any Vincent Price collector like myself
A true mist have for horror fans or for anybody interested in the witch trials in Europe