November 29, 2014

Films

Witchfinder General – 1968 | 82 mins | Horror | Colour

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Plot Synopsis

Witchfinder General

Filmed on location in Suffolk, Witchfinder General was the last movie made by twenty-four year-old director Michael Reeves, Reeves died in an apparent suicide soon after completing this film.

The movie is set in 1648, the time of Oliver Cromwell. Vincent Price gives a fictionalised interpretation of Matthew Hopkins, one of the great villains and witch-finders during the English Civil War, a sadistic sociopath who uses his position to gain money, sex and power. He religiously goes about the countryside witch-hunting with his callous henchman John Stearne (Robert Russell), seeking women from whom they forcibly extract confessions of witchcraft. He then proceeds to zealously execute them in the name of God, and collect money from the local townsfolk for getting rid of the evil forces.

Hopkins and Stearne cross paths with Richard Marshall (Ian Ogilvy) and Sara (Hillary Dwyer), a young soldier and his fiancée; they destroy the couple’s world. Hopkins tortures her uncle John Lowes (Rupert Davies), the priest of a small town for being a warlock, Sara offers herself to the pair in return for her uncle’s life, but Stearne rapes Sara and hangs her uncle anyway. Trooper Marshall leaves his post in Cromwell’s army to begin a campaign of revenge against Hopkins that ends in victory for neither.

The original musical score is actually quite beautiful, though there is a version with an entirely different and much less enjoyable synthesised score. The real Matthew Hopkins, Cromwell’s Witchfinder General, killed some 200 alleged witches between 1645-46 with his assistant Stearne.

Production Team

Michael Reeves: Director
Jim Morahan: Art Direction
John Coquillon: Cinematography
Jill Thomson: Costume Department
Howard Lanning: Editing
Tony Tenser: Executive Producer
Paul Ferris: Music
Philip Waddilove: Producer
Arnold L Miller: Producer
Louis M Heyward: Producer
Louis M Heyward: Script
Michael Reeves: Script
Tom Baker: Script
Dennis Lanning: Sound Department

Cast

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: Cromwell



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