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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The footage in "Witchfinder General" of Kentwell Hall is likely to be the only video existing that shows the front courtyard as it was before it was paved with the decorative brick paving installed circa 1980 (with permission from English Heritage, as Kentwell Hall is a protected historical building).
Substantial exterior alterations were also made in the 1860's to make the Hall look more "grand" in a Tudor style. See more »
Real flintlock pistols of that period were useless at beyond point blank range and yet, in this film, people are shot at 50 metres or more. See more »
[United States Conqueror Worm versions]
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."
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The UK R2 DVD features 2 versions of the film - the original UK version (labelled "The Director's Cut", with BBFC censor cuts restored via grainy, inferior quality inserts) and the Continental version (labelled "The Export Version") that has alternate takes of several tavern shots in which the various wenches are topless or have exposed breasts - in the UK version they are are more conservatively dressed - as well as extra scenes of torture and violence, notably additional axe blows to Price at the film's conclusion. See more »
A powerful and unsettling film which is definitely not for the weak - kneed. Not easy to watch in some parts. But the mid-17th century was a turbulent time in British history with a civil war raging and the foul menace of devil worship festering throughout the countrysyde.
All the players do a fine job. Although, Vincent Price is, of course, the stand-out performer. No other actor was able to portray genuine evil quite as effectively. There's no high camp fooling around in this one. What a brilliant talent he was.
The music in this picture also deserves a special mention, particularly the opening theme which magnificently recreates an appropriate 17th century mood. Michael Reeves sheer production skill overcame the limitations of what was obviously a tight budget.
I believe that the 1960s was the golden era of English cinema and television. Check the internet for extensive biographical information on the real Matthew Hopkins- WITCHFINDER.
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