Witchfinder General Reviews

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Director Michael Reeves Starring: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy
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    “Witchfinder General - Synopsis: ”


    written by Dreadlocksmile on 06/08/2004

    Witchfinder General - Synopsis:
    "1645 sees England in the grip of a bloody civil war. The structure of law and order has broken down. During this climate of fear, self-styled witch hunter Matthew Hopkins tours the country preying on innocent victims in the name of the Lord. His name strikes fear into the hearts of superstitious people already terrorised by war. During his reign of terror, Hopkins travels the country torturing and executing innocent people for personal gain after claiming to find evidence of witchcraft".

    Witchfinder General is far from the usual tongue-firmly-wedged-in-cheek horror movie that we have come to expect when starring Vincent Price. His performance is outstanding, delivering a menacing and contemptuous character as he acts the perverted and sadistic man that is Matthew Hopkins. The film is powerful and disturbing, with horrific scenes of torture that leave you squirming in your seat.

    The film was originally released back in 1968, taken from the real life story, but like in most films, some liberties were taken with the actual facts behind the Matthew Hopkins' escapades. For example, his death did not come about by a vengeful solider, but instead was apparently due to some rather irate townsfolk who used the same witchfinding trials on him.

    The film itself delivers a fascinating look at a bizarre time in English history, with an importnat message on socio-politics that sees itself as relevant today as it ever was.

    The DVD is now available for the first time in the UK fully uncut. Past video releases of the film have included some rather heavily-edited prints, but now it can be purchased in its full gorey glory. For the real horror geeks amongst us here are the bits that were cut but are now back in the film:

    1. At 21:20 and 21:45 the initial pricking of the priest is longer.

    2. At 31:30 there is more face slapping.

    3. At 38:23 there is more footage of the accused witches being tied up for dunking on the bridge.

    4. At 38:37 the priest is lifted up.

    5. At 38:58 there is more footage shown of the accused witches splashing in the water.

    6. At 67:34 and 63:49 Elizabeth, who has a bloody face, is shown on the ground being tied to the ladder before she is burned alive.

    7. At 69:02 a shot of her body being lowered into the fire is restored.

    8. At 77:45 a brief shot of Sarah being pricked by John Sterne is shown.

    9. At 80:26 the axe murder of Matthew Hopkins is longer, with Richard landing several more blows with the rubber prop axe.

    So as you can see, the DVD does contain a load of previously cut footage. The disc also includes the original British version, which had the above footage removed but included additional topless nudity shot for international markets by Reeves.

    The DVD's special features are as follows:
    1. Original theatrical trailer
    2. "Matthew Hopkins" by Cathedral music video
    3. Blood Beast: The films of Michael Reeves documentary
    4. The Sorcerers trailer
    5. Production notes
    6. Image gallery
    7. Filmographies

    The DVD was released on Region 0 PAL by Prism Leisure - so expect to pay a budget price. The film length is 82mins approx and is on anamorphic widescreen (aspect ratio 16:9). This is a fantastic disc to own, especially for the price (pun intended).

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