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>
Although there is a church in Brandeston Suffolk,the actual church used in the film (the diocese of John Lowes) was St John's,Rushford near Thetford in Norfolk. See more »
The camera shadow on the back of one of the villagers on the bridge just before the accused witches are lowered in the moat. 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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UK cinema and early video versions were cut by the BBFC to knife prickings, the beating of the woman in the cellar by Stearne, the ducking scene, a woman being burnt alive and axe blows from the climactic fight in the castle cellar. Overseas prints of the film included alternative shots of topless nudity during the bar-room scenes. The complete and restored version was passed fully uncut by the BBFC and released on the Redemption video label in 1995, using footage restored from European laserdisc prints. Later UK DVD versions feature both the uncut UK cinema print (known as the 'Director's Cut') which restores the violence, and the European print (the 'Export Cut') which includes both the violence and the nude scenes. Unusually the 2007 15-rated Showbox DVD featured the old cut cinema print. See more »
Most folks have already enthusiastically praised "Witchfinder General" as a masterpiece, so I have little to add in agreement. It truly is a great film because it is about important ideas--a deep, dark, existential look into the worst of the human condition. John Coquillon's cinematography is about as good as it gets, and Michael Reeves's direction is superb. But what really sets this apart is Vincent Price's performance. It is easy to overplay villainy, lapsing into parody, but Price is so calm and unaffected here that he is the very essence of pure evil incarnate, an evil corruptly justified by misguided ideals. This is a powerful film, not only relevant as a historical depiction, but also as a morality play for events in the world today. It may be cliche to say, but you'll think about "Witchfinder General" for as long as you think about movies.
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