In Elizabethan England, a wicked lord massacres nearly all the members of a coven of witches, earning the enmity of their leader, Oona. Oona calls up a magical servant, a "banshee", to ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
The real Matthew Hopkins was only in his mid 20s in 1645 and died before he was 30. Vincent Price's character is middle-aged, like the actor himself. Hopkins and Stearne executed more than 300 people, mainly women, during their two or three years of '"witch hunting". Considering that 500 people in total were executed for witchcraft in England between the late 15th and late 18th centuries, it means that Hopkins was responsible for two-thirds of these executions during a period of three years. See more »
There are several references to the value of payments in 'guineas'. However, the gold coin of that name was not minted until 1663, eighteen years after the film was set. 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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A very interesting historical thriller with quite possibly Vincent Price's finest performance.
I had been wanting to see 'Witchfinder General' for years, and I must say it almost lives up to its reputation. The version I watched was the restored uncut one, and while I thought the film had one or two slight flaws (mainly with the script), it is very, very good. This was the third and final movie directed by Michael Reeves, who sadly died of a drug overdose a year after it was released while still in his mid twenties. 'Witchfinder General' certainly shows a lot of promise, and is very well made on what I imagine was a fairly modest budget. Many describe it as a horror movie, but I think thriller is a more apt term. While it has some brutal and violent moments, and it does concern witches, there is no supernatural theme. It is similar in many ways to the underrated 'Mark Of The Devil' and Jess Franco's disappointing 'The Bloody Judge', two movies released after this one, and undoubtedly influenced by it. Horror legend Vincent Price clashed with Reeves on set with the latter telling him not to ham it up. Price took offence at this but obviously heeded the advice, and his performance here is arguably the best of his career. Price is brilliant throughout, and the supporting cast are all pretty good, especially Reeves regular Ian Ogilvy, and Robert Russell as Price's surly assistant, and there's a good cameo from Patrick Wymark ('Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun') as Cromwell. 'Witchfinder General' is a very good film which deserves to be seen by a wider audience, and Michael Reeves death is a tragedy for all movie lovers.
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