HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
Butterfly Murders, The
Pimp
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
   
 
  Witchfinder General Climate Of Fear
Year: 1968
Director: Michael Reeves
Stars: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies, Hilary Dwyer, Robert Russell, Nicky Henson, Tony Selby, Bernard Kay, Godfrey James, Michael Beint, John Beneman, Bill Maxwell, Paul Ferris, Maggie Kimberly, Margaret Nolan, Patrick Wymark, Wilfrid Brambell
Genre: Horror, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: The year is 1645 and England is in the grip of bloody Civil War. While Oliver Cromwell's forces battle for supremacy over those of King Charles, the witchfinder Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price) roams East Anglia, growing ever more influential as he accuses citizens of witchcraft and punishes them accordingly - whether they are guilty or not. In fact, there are barely any witches in the land and the greater majority of those accused are the victims of unpopularity with their neighbours who covet their possessions, disagree with their religion or politics, or are simply seeking scapegoats. Soldier Richard Marshall (Ian Ogilvy) is about to face this evil first hand...

Witchfinder General is often cited as the finest work in the tragically short-lived director Michael Reeves' career, and proof that he would have gone on to greater things if he hadn't died so young. Whether he would have or not is a moot point, as while undeniably talented the signs were that he may well have continued running his violent brand of horror into the ground, but we'll never know, and it is better to appreciate the films he did complete than speculate on what might have been. Certainly star Vincent Price thought his performance here as his most accomplished in the horror genre he was best known for, and credited a lot of that down to Reeves' direction.

Famously the two clashed on the first few days of shooting, with the director complaining that Price was playing it too hammy, and after butting heads the actor agreed to downplay his over the top qualities and emphasise the menace. A wise move, as he was absolutely correct in his assessment of the mood needed to sell this as not your ordinary British shocker. This was not a Hammer movie but a Tigon one, an even smaller company which tried to muscle in on their act, yet it was clear that in spite of its lush rural appearance, combined with an equally rich orchestral score by Paul Ferris (who also acts in this), that the events depicted were in contrast as corrupt and bleak as could be.

What happens is that Richard takes advantage of his leave to return home to his wife, Sara (Hilary Dwyer, later successful producer Hilary Heath), and spends time with her and her priest uncle (Rupert Davies) in an establishing of what is about to be lost due to the war, and more blatantly due to Hopkins' machinations. Once Richard leaves to rejoin his regiment, all hell breaks loose and the witchfinder takes advantage of the locals accusing the priest of Satanism to torture and execute him, purely because of his Catholicism. This in spite of Sara offering herself sexually to Hopkins, and worse being raped by his righthand man, Stearne (Robert Russell). All that is left now is for Richard to go on the warpath of vengeance and the stage is set for bloody retribution.

You can tell this is not a Hammer movie not because it doesn't look like one - period horror efforts from Britain did tend to resemble each other - but because for all the characters' faith in God there is no divine being overlooking them at all. The environment is entirely Godless (and Devil-less, for that matter), with no mercy or kindness apparent as a result; Hopkins claims to represent the Almighty, but these claims are nothing but spurious and without foundation, indeed, he may simply be carrying out his atrocities through sheer sadistic enjoyment and it's possible to read this into Price's consistently grim expression. If that is not enough to chill you, then the film asks you to consider this: if you are ever falsely accused, then the mere act of standing up for yourself to fight back against the scandalmongers and guttersnipes will reduce you to their debased level, and here we see the terrible consequences taken to their most depraved conclusion. Which does not make for the most enjoyable horror film ever made, but it is one of the most thought-provoking.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3611 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Michael Reeves  (1944 - 1969)

Promising British writer-director who first found work in Italy, on Castle of the Living Dead. The She Beast was his next credit, and two minor classics of bleak horror followed: The Sorcerers and Witchfinder General, which many regard as his masterpiece. Tragically he died of an overdose in his mid-twenties, before he could start work on his next film, The Oblong Box.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: