Directed by Michael Reeves
Written by Michael Reeves and Tom Baker
Cinematography by John Coquillon
Music by Paul Ferris
Cast: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies, Wilfred Brambell, Robert Russell, Nicky Henson, and Hilary Owyer
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/UK/NTSC Region 1
Review from MGM DVD
This movie is loosely based on a true story of a man named Matthew Hopkins. The year is 1685 and Hopkins (Vincent Price) is a cruel and educated man who travels with his sadistic assistant, John Stearne (Robert Russell), hunting for witches to torture then hangs or burns them. He is called upon a town where its priest is accused of being a witch. The priest’s beautiful niece (Hillary Owyer), in return her uncle’s life, has sex with Hopkins. Ultimately, though Hopkins kills him anyway and accuses her of witchcraft. Her fiancé, a brave solider named Richard Marshall (Ian Ogilvy), swears revenge on him.
Director/ co-writer Reeve’s (this would be his last film, as he would die a year later of an overdose) horror classic is inarguably one of the best films in Vincent Price’s entire career. Released in the US as THE CONQUEROR WORM (to cash in on the Edgar Allan Poe films he had been in) with scenes and a prologue and epilogue added by distributors this excellent DVD marks the first time the film can be seen in the US as the filmmaker originally intended it to be. It is a truly dark and depressing movie experience that ranks as one of the finest British horror films ever made.
This is most certainly not “a feel good” movie. There is no humor, and it leads to a real downer of an ending. It is also shockingly violent for its time. And, while today’s films are much gorier; it has lost none of its power and remains a hard hitter of a film. WITCHFINDER remains a truly somber and horrifying movie.
Moving at a great and exciting pace WITCHFINDER GENERAL is always an enthralling view. It has beautiful and lush cinematography by John Coquillon. The score by Paul Ferris was replaced when the film hit video back in the 80s. Thankfully it is back, because it sounds so gorgeous! The entire cast is great, as well. This is one of Price’s finest acting moments. Gone is the more hammy or campy aspects of some of his other roles. Instead, we are given a truly evil and powerful portrayal of a twisted individual. Everyone else is just as good. This little seen classic is one you need to put at the top of your must see list.
You can find WITCHFINDER GENERAL on DVD courtesy of MGM. The anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 transfer has some grain and looks a little soft, at times, but overall it is gorgeous and lively. The movie has truly never looked better! And, when you take into account how old the film is, well that just makes the transfer even more amazing! The mono sound is crisp and clear.
There are only two extra features, but, man, they are really fucking good. “Witchfinder General: Micheal Reeves Horror Classic” is a good documentary that features interviews with various film experts on young director Reeves and the history of the movie, itself. I really enjoyed the informative, interesting, and well conducted, by a film expert, audio commentary featuring co-producer Philip Waddilove and actor Ian Ogilvy. Some great facts are revealed, and I just love when they talk about the influences on the film, like the fact that Reeves wanted this movie to be like a western. The single disc comes in a keep case. Sadly it does not come with the movie’s trailer or an inlet card.
This Film Features:
Review by Giovanni Deldio. All Right Reserved. 2010. ©
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