August 12th, 2012: Witchfinder General aka the Conqueror Worm (1968)

Cast and Crew:  Patrick Wymark

What It’s About: During the chaos of the English Civil War, Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price) plies a deadly trade going from town to town “witch hunting”.  When he sets his eyes on Sara Lowes (Hillary Heath), will her soldier fiancé Richard Marshall (Ian Ogilvy) return in time to save her from the Witchfinder General’s clutches?

Why Watch it Today?: Matthew Hopkins is a historical figure, and died today in 1647.  Though it was rumored he was himself hung as a witch, it’s likely he died of tuberculosis.  While one might expect that a late 60s horror film treatment of his crimes, starring Vincent Price, no less, and riding the coattails of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films to be campy, director and co-writer Michael Reeves (who committed suicide within a year of the film’s release) ensues that the film is quite serious, with Price giving one of his best serious performances as the mercenary, amoral Hopkins.

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