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Witchfinder General (1968)

 -  Drama | History | Horror  -  May 1968 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 5,581 users  
Reviews: 126 user | 110 critic

A young soldier seeks to put an end to the evils caused by a vicious witch hunter.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: Witchfinder General (1968)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Richard Marshall
Rupert Davies ...
John Lowes
Hilary Heath ...
Sara (as Hilary Dwyer)
Robert Russell ...
John Stearne
Nicky Henson ...
Swallow
Tony Selby ...
Salter
...
Fisherman
Godfrey James ...
Webb
Michael Beint ...
Captain Gordon
John Trenaman ...
Harcourt (as John Treneman)
Bill Maxwell ...
Gifford
Paul Ferris ...
Paul (as Morris Jar)
Maggie Kimberly ...
Elizabeth
Peter Haigh ...
Lavenham Magistrate
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Storyline

England is torn in civil strife as the Royalists battle the Parliamentary Party for control. This conflict distracts people from rational thought and allows unscrupulous men to gain local power by exploiting village superstitions. One of these men is Matthew Hopkins, who tours the land offering his services as a persecutor of witches. Aided by his sadistic accomplice John Stearne, he travels from city to city and wrenches confessions from "witches" in order to line his pockets and gain sexual favors. When Hopkins persecutes a priest, he incurs the wrath of Richard Marshall, who is engaged to the priest's niece. Risking treason by leaving his military duties, Marshall relentlessly pursues the evil Hopkins and his minion Stearne. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There's lots of screaming when there's this much at stake! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1968 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Conqueror Worm  »

Box Office

Budget:

$175,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film takes place in 1645. See more »

Goofs

The pistols are clearly not real flintlocks, as the flintlock mechanism does not operate when they are fired. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[United States Conqueror Worm versions]
Matthew Hopkins: [voiceover] LO! 't is a gala night/Within the lonesome latter years./An angel throng, bewinged, bedight/In veils, and drowned in tears,/Sit in a theatre to see/A play of hopes and fears,/While the orchestra breathes fitfully/The music of the spheres."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Controversial At The Time But Disappointing When Viewed Today
6 January 2005 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

It's impossible to comment on Michael Reeves movie WITCHFINDER GENERAL without mentioning the outright condemnation it received from critics on its initial release , or rather the condemnation of the " sickening and cruel violence " . Watching it today I'm slightly puzzled as to what peoples problems were at the time but then I thought about it . In 1968 no one had seen the gory video nasties from the 1980s and Vincent Price was best known for starring in rather camp horror B movies , so I guess you'd have to live in the context of 1968 to understand the controversy

There's another thing and that is it's always billed as a "horror film" when broadcast on television but was WITCHFINDER GENERAL originally marketed as a horror film in 1968 ? Stylewise it is similar to a Hammer horror - The cast are composed of familiar television faces , there's day for night filming , the budget is rather similar to a Hammer movie at the time etc but is it meant to be a bio pic ? was it originally intended as a historical drama ? Unfortunately this where the movie fails because there's not much in the way of historical truth , Matthew Hopkins did indeed exist , he wasn't a mythical figure he was a cynical murdering mercenary who condemned people as witches in order to make a load of money but he didn't meet his fate as shown here . It's believed he emigrated to America when the resentment in England got too much for him and carried on torturing suspects

There are a couple of good aspects to the movie . First of all Vincent Price gives what is regarded as his best performance and it is fairly impressive though he could have played the role in an even more cynical manner and parts of the script do pick up on the ridiculous trials of the time such as if a suspect is thrown into a river and drowns they're not a witch ! But even if you watch the restored version ( That's the version where the picture quality drops during violent scenes ) you still find yourself asking why it was so controversial in 1968


14 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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