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Customer Review

82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Pivotal Film Experience., September 13, 2007
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This review is from: Witchfinder General (DVD)
Every lover of film has had a pivotal film experience, the movie that made such an impact on them that they have never forgotten it. For me WITCHFINDER GENERAL is that film. I first saw it in 1969 as THE CONQUERER WORM (AIP's American release title designed to cash in on the Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe series although the movie has nothing to do with Poe). I was 17 years old, just about to complete my junior year of high school in Greenville SC, and was a big fan of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe series. I had seen very few films that would not qualify as G rated. The ratings system had just been introduced the year before and this film was rated M (for mature audiences, later GP then PG). It was a complete shock to the system in every way. It was the first time I had seen nudity/lovemaking before and the violence was painful and ugly. Vincent Price was cold and hard without a trace of his usual mannerisms and therefore not sympathetic in the least. To top it all off there was no happy ending and people were worse off than they were before. Of course these things had been in films since the silent era but it was the first time I had seen them and we always remember our firsts.

I have seen just about everything in the movies since then but seeing WITCHFINDER nearly 40 years later I'm amazed at how well it holds up. I am happy to report that after years of substandard VHS and Region 2 DVD editions this version features the original director's cut and restores the original soundtrack which was not available in America. An added bonus is the commentary which features star Ian Ogilvy that fills in the background of the making of the film. For those who don't know, the film is set during the English Civil War and pits two young lovers against a sadistic Puritan witchfinder. The director, Michael Reeves, died shortly afterwards of an accidental prescription drug overdose at the age of 25. The 5 star rating is purely subjective because of the important part it played in my overall movie development but it's a solid 4 star film anyway.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 6, 2009, 5:44:09 PM PST
J. Reader says:
Your reviews have been most insightful, and I want to thank you for them. Now I have some clues as which films to buy next!

Regarding THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL: About 10 years ago I started buying the Poe adaptations to introduce my son to them (Premature Burial, The Raven, Tales of Terror, etc.) and we went on a Vincent Price binge for some years. When I found a used VHS of CONQUEROR WORM I snapped it right up, and mistakingly neglected to preview it before showing my son. The violence and sexuality--and sexual violence--struck me as oddly explicit for the late '60s, and I sat aghast. While I did enjoy the film overall, it was definitely not right for my son. The only other film of that era to really shock me was NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which I still enjoy despite the graphic scenes. Consequently, I shop for movies more carefully, taking the time to read useful reviews such as yours.

Thanks for your review, I look forward to reading more of them!


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2009, 7:08:46 PM PST
Thanks Josh for the kind words. I see by your reviews that you are a Bava and Karloff fan. The Midnite Movies Edition of PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is quite good but it's now O.O.P Did you spot Karloff in MOHICANS (one of the great silent films). He's in the massacre scene and is the Indian who tosses the baby up in the air. If you read more of my reviews you'll see them divided up between silent and horror (more of the latter recently). They are my two primary cinematic interests.
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Location: Asheville, NC United States

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