Witchfinder General (1968 | Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy)

England, 1645: As the country tears itself apart in civil war, a witchfinder takes advantage of the lack of law and order to ply his supposedly holy trade. Burn, baby, burn!

Something of a landmark in British horror cinema, this is ostensibly an accurate portrait of Matthew Hopkins (Price, playing it completely straight), the notorious Witchfinder General who cut a swathe through 17th-century England.

It actually plays pretty fast and loose with historical facts. Instead, we get a picture of a country torn apart by religious superstition and political turmoil, where the beauty of the British countryside is cruelly juxtaposed with the savagery of its citizens – Hopkins re-cast as the serpent in this Eden.

Gifted director Reeves burned himself out trying to defend the film from its detractors and eventually committed suicide.
In the US, American International bizarrely tried to pass it off as a Poe movie by retitling it The Conqueror Worm and including some lines from the poem in the titles. In fact, close scrutiny of the opening credits reveals the correct title of the film to be Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General.

I hold all human life dearly, especially my own – Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price)

Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins
Ian Ogilvy as Richard Marshall
Robert Russell as John Stearne
Nicky Henson as Swallow
Hilary Dwyer as Sara
Rupert Davies as John Lowes
Patrick Wymark as Cromwell
Wilfrid Brambell as Master Loach
Tony Selby as Salter
Michael Beint as Captain Gordon
Bernard Kay as Fisherman
Beaufoy Milton as Priest
John Trenaman as Harcourt
Bill Maxwell as Gifford
Peter Thomas as Farrier
Maggie Kimberly as Elizabeth
Dennis Thorne as Villager #1
Anne Tirard as Old Woman
Gillian Aldam as Young Woman in Cell
Hira Talfrey as Hanged Woman
Jack Lynn as Brandeston Innkeeper
Michael Segal as Villager #2
David Webb as Jailer
Sally Douglas as Girl at Inn #2
Edward Palmer as Shepherd
Lee Peters as Sergeant
Peter Haigh as Lavenham Magistrate
Godfrey James as Webb
Margaret Nolan as Girl at Inn #1
Philip Waddilove as Soldier
Toby Lenon as Old Man
Paul Ferris as Paul
David Lyell as Footsoldier
Alf Joint as Sentry
Martin Terry as Hoxne Innkeeper
Derek Ware as
John Kidd as
Susi Field as
Donna Reading as Girl at Inn #4
Writer and Director: Michael Reeves
Producers: Louis M Heyward, Arnold L Miller, Philip Waddilove
Photographer: John Coquillon
UK | 87 minutes | 1968