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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Michael Reeves wanted Donald Pleasence to play Matthew Hopkins, but American-International Pictures, the American distributor and co-financier of the film, insisted that Vincent Price play the title character, and Reeves grudgingly accepted. See more »
When the Witchfinder's assistant meets up with him shortly after the burning, a modern plastic drainpipe can be seen on a building behind. Also during the burning, a few TV aerials can briefly be seen on some roofs. 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 USA version, titled The Conqueror Worm, as well as having the reference to the Poe poem, replaces the film's original score by with a different (although similar) score by . UK prints under the title Witchfinder General have the correct original Ferris score. See more »
A stunning low budget film that seems to transend it's limited budget. For once, Price doesn't ham it up and Ogilvy gets to go deeper with his old Etonian dashing hero persona. There is genuine horror from the first scene of a woman being burned, Hopkins' sidekick performing emergency surgery on himself and the feeling of a people opressed and cornered on all sides by war and religious panic. A special mention must go to a man who I think is the most underrated cinematographer in the movies: John Coquillon, who makes the scenery haunting yet beautiful like a Constable painting.
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