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Witchfinder General

Witchfinder General

5.0 2
Director: Michael Reeves

Cast: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies


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A corrupt opportunist commits brutal crimes in the name of God and country in this atmospheric period horror tale. In 17th century England, as a people's uprising threatens Lord Cromwell's rule, superstition still rules the land, and the Royalists use this to their advantage by inaugurating a reign of terror in the name of wiping out alleged witches and agents of the


A corrupt opportunist commits brutal crimes in the name of God and country in this atmospheric period horror tale. In 17th century England, as a people's uprising threatens Lord Cromwell's rule, superstition still rules the land, and the Royalists use this to their advantage by inaugurating a reign of terror in the name of wiping out alleged witches and agents of the dark arts. Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price) has been appointed "witchfinder" by Puritan Royalists, and with the help of his thuggish assistant Stearne (Robert Russell), Hopkins travels from town to town, brutally interrogating those accused of witchcraft and using fire, drowning, and torture to extract "confessions" from the accused. Of course, Hopkins' opinions can be swayed with money and other considerations, and when Father Lowes (Rupert Davies), a priest whose sympathies do not lie with the Royalists, is arrested and tortured by Hopkins and Stearne, his devoted niece Sarah (Hilary Dwyer) is able to stay his punishment by sleeping with Hopkins. Sarah, however, is engaged to marry Marshall (Ian Ogilvy), a soldier in Cromwell's army, and once Marshall learns that the woman he loves has been seduced by Hopkins -- and raped by Stearne -- he becomes determined to expose the witchfinder and punish him for his misdeeds. Witchfinder General was released in the United States by American International Pictures, who in addition to arranging for Vincent Price to play Matthew Hopkins, changed the North American title to The Conqueror Worm, after a poem by Edgar Allan Poe which was read over the credits by Price, though the story bears no real relation to Poe's work.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
This brutal, brilliant late-'60s horror film depicts the violence and chaos of a society at war and the corruption that it inflicts on the population at large. The story, set during Cromwell's civil war in 17th-century England, concerns a famous witch hunter, Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price), who betrays a comely young lady (Hilary Dwyer), drawing the wrath of her soldier fianceé (Ian Ogilvy). The film was originally called The Witchfinder General, but American producer Roger Corman changed the title in order to release it as part of his popular Edgar Allen Poe-Vincent Price series. Darker and more serious in tone than the others entries, The Conqueror Worm provided Price with one of the strongest roles of his career. The film's overall sense of realism allowed him to forego his usual campiness, and he gives a subtle, complex performance. Promising young director Michael Reeves died of a drug overdose at the age of 25, leaving behind only a pair of undistinguished low-budget Italian flicks and this fascinating near-masterpiece as a testament to his unrealized potential.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
The last and most accomplished film from British director Michael Reeves (who died in 1969 at the age of 25), Witchfinder General feels like the work of a talented filmmaker just starting to hit his stride; while it's overstating the case to call it a great movie, it's a very good one, and it's not hard to imagine (as more than one critic has speculated) that Reeves could have been a potent force in British horror had he lived. In Witchfinder General, Reeves achieved a cold, bleak look and feel that perfectly captured the rugged landscapes of the North of England (as well as the flinty heart of its leading character), and while the film was scandalous in its day for its violence, seen more than three decades on, the bulk of Witchfinder General's brutality seems to be inflicted upon the audience rather than the characters onscreen -- there's little relish in the torture scenes, and a plentiful share of outraged disgust that's unusual in the genre. Reeves also managed to draw fine performances from his cast, especially Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins; Reeves persuaded Price to tone down the campy mannerisms that had crept into his work with Roger Corman, and the result is a portrait of steely, self-righteous evil that ranks with the actor's most effective performances, while Ian Ogilvy and Hillary Dwyer offer fine support. Though obviously shot on a low budget and sometimes inconsistent in its pacing, Witchfinder General remains both powerful and unnerving, and certainly merits the cult following it has gained over the years; as a look at the dark side of Puritan England, it's nearly as strong and certainly more realistic than Ken Russell's not-dissimilar The Devils.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital Mono]

Special Features

Witchfinder General: Michael Reeves' horror classic; Audio commentary with co-producer Philip Waddilove and actor Ian Ogilvy

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vincent Price Matthew Hopkins
Ian Ogilvy Richard Marshall
Rupert Davies John Lowes
Hilary Dwyer Sara
Robert Russell John Stearne
Michael Beint Capt. Gordon
Nicky Henson Trooper Swallow
John Trenaman Trooper Harcourt
Tony Selby Salter
Beaufoy Milton Priest
Patrick Wymark Oliver Cromwell
Paul Dawkins Farmer
John Kidd Magistrate
Margaret Nolan Actor
Philip Waddilove Actor
Derek Ware Actor
Edward Palmer Shepherd
Martin Terry Hoxne Innkeeper
Bernard Kay Fisherman
Godfrey James Webb
Bill Maxwell Trooper Gifford
Morris Jar Paul
Maggie Kimberley Elizabeth Clark
Peter Haigh Lavenham Magistrate
Hira Talfrey Hanged Woman
Peter Thomas Farrier
David Webb Jailer
Alf Joint Sentry
Jack Lynn Brandeston Innkeeper
Michael Segal Villager
Sally Douglas Girl at Inn
Wilfrid Brambell Master Loach
Anne Tirard Old Woman

Technical Credits
Michael Reeves Director,Screenwriter
John Coquillon Cinematographer
Paul Ferris Score Composer
Louis M. Heyward Producer,Screenwriter
Jimmy James Set Decoration/Design
Howard Lanning Editor
Paul LeMare Sound/Sound Designer
Andrew Low Set Decoration/Design
Arnold Louis Miller Producer
Jim Morahan Art Director
Tony Tenser Executive Producer
Jill Thomson Costumes/Costume Designer
Tom Baker Screenwriter
Philip Waddilove Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Witchfinder General
1. Witch Hanging/Main Titles [4:35]
2. Skirmish [5:43]
3. Marriage Consent [4:27]
4. Early to Bed [2:05]
5. The Lord's Work [3:23]
6. Corrupted by Satan [5:14]
7. Strange Motives [3:49]
8. The Spy [3:17]
9. Confess! [2:01]
10. Stearne in Charge [2:36]
11. Due Process [5:16]
12. The Awful Truth [6:36]
13. At Your Service [4:06]
14. He's After Us [2:39]
15. Leave of Absence [1:24]
16. Extermination Business [2:28]
17. Female Ungodliness [3:20]
18. Scoldier's Missions [:08]
19. Witch Burning [1:31]
20. Witchfinder General [3:36]
21. Accused [4:57]
22. Torture [2:06]
23. No Mercy [3:43]
24. End Titles [3:02]


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Witchfinder General 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Neparlezpas More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Even though I also enjoy Vincent Price's campy horror films, I enjoyed seeing him in this unique and more serious role. Lots of violence, but set in a pretty countryside setting and good acting. I think this is one of Vincent Price's best performances. Check it out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Gothic horror tale of the witchfinding business that was prevalent in England during the 16th century. Vincent Price is perfectly cast as Matthew Hopkins, the self-proclaimed witchfinder general, who along with his brutal sidekick, Stern, roam the English countryside preying on people's fears about the horrors of allowing witches to live. Unfortunately, all of the women that are hanged and brutally tortured are innocent, since Price and his lecherous sidekick do not get paid until the ''Lord's work is done''. After hanging a priest and raping a young english lady, Price runs afoul of her soldier fiance' and the search for revenge begins with the soldier in hot pursuit. Several more gruesome executions of innocent women follow before the solider mutilates Price and rearranges the face of his sidekick Stern in the process. Gory, but very well acted and fast moving. Not for the squeamish and youngsters.