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Witchfinder General [DVD]
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Price:£10.81+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 26 September 2016
A tale of brutality in the name of righteousness as perpetrated by the real life witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins and his followers during the English Civil War. Uneasy viewing, but fascinating also, as the barbarity shown is very likely how Hopkins actually sought out his victims and dealt with them. It was a bad era in which to find oneself in the wrong place at the wrong time, as discovered by a young soldier and the love of his life caught up in the mayhem. These two leading characters may be fictitious, but the background is much nearer the truth, as explained very illuminatingly in one of the many “extras” within the Blu-ray package.

This Blu-ray version certainly doesn’t lack the excesses depicted in the film’s original theatrical release, fully justified in my opinion in order to describe realistically an uncomfortable period of British history. Dating from the late 1960s, “Witchfinder General” may not contain the pacey shock-horror treatment expected by today’s audiences, but surely it’s the drawing out of the scenes containing physical and mental torment that helps to make the film so haunting. Full marks to the talented and sadly short-lived young director for his imaginative treatment and lasting impact that still sends shudders up my spine nearly fifty years after seeing it in the cinema. To label it solely as a “horror” film, though, may be unjustly demeaning; there’s more to it than that.

Technically, the quality of both picture and sound is very good, considering that this relatively small scale production has not undergone a full restoration. Just a few minor flashes and sparkles here and there on the vision, probably little more than what would have been visible on an early release print. The audio is in original mono, but pleasantly intelligible; in those days before optical stereo tracks existed, multi-channel audio was reserved for “bigger” productions using large format or anamorphic prints carrying 6-track or 4-track magnetic sound but, had a suitable system been available for “Witchfinder General”, it’s questionable whether the film would have benefited from it except for enhancing the lush music.

The acting may be a trifle studied compared with modern realism, but there is a strong cast. Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins almost underplays the ruthlessness of his character who thinks he’s only doing a good job, but comes across as just about the nastiest anti-hero ever – arguably his finest film role. Even nastier is Hopkins’ aide John Stearne, most convincingly played by prolific bit-part actor Robert Russell (not to be confused with a modern namesake), exuding venom mercilessly. Ian Ogilvy as the hero soldier may be recognizable more as the actor who took over the TV role of Simon Templar (“The Saint”) from Roger Moore a decade later. Amongst others, Rupert Davies played a memorable TV Maigret in the early 1960s, Wilfrid Brambell was the dad in the long-running TV comedy series “Steptoe and Son”, and Peter Haigh in another life presented the cinema-going series “Picture Parade” on television and “Movie Go Round” on the radio. Some of us will remember them well.
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on 14 June 2014
Master of Horror legend 'Vincent Price' plays 'Mathew Hopkins' who as a distraction
from the 'Royalist/Cromwell civil-war, with sadistic assistant 'John Stearn' (Robert
Russell) offer their services, at a price, to identify potential Witches living within the
communities of a fearful and superstitious villages of South-East Britain, carrying
out a torture and cleansing regime to extract a confession.
'Hopkins' and 'Stearn' are heading toward the small town of 'Brandistone' to investigate
accusations against the local Priest, 'John Lowes' (Rupert Davies)
The Priests niece 'Sarah' (Hilary Heath) is to marry 'Roundhead' Officer 'Richard Marshall'
(Ian Ogilvy) who in return has promised 'John Lowes' that he'll protect 'Sarah'
When 'Richard' learns of what has taken place in Brandistone' in his absence he takes
unofficial leave from his duties to pursue 'Hopkins' and 'Stearn' to serve justice upon them.
This is a nostalgic trip back in time giving an opportunity to reflect on a film we'd have viewed
as a Horror movie back in the late 60's.
The film of course does contain scenes of violence in the shape of torture, carrying out execution,
and some fight scenes.
This a 1968 movie that has been given an HD upgrade, which certainly gives a sharper picture
quality to that of a DVD version, some of the 80's and 90's upgrades are not as good in truth.
The film a journey into a bygone age in which the fearful and uneducated fell victim of ruthless
opportunists ...
Special Features -
* Audio Commentary with 'Benjamin Halligan' and 'Michael Reeves'
* The Blood Beast - The Films of 'Michael Reeves' (SD 24 mins)
* Blood Crimes - Witchcraft (SD 24 mins)
* 'Vincent Price' on Aspel and Company (SD 10 mins)
* Intrusion - 'Michael Reeves' short film (SD 10 mins)
* Alternative Scenes from the Export Version (SD)
* Alternative Opening and Closing Credits (HD)
* Theatrical Trailer (SD)
* Stills Gallery (HD)
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on 11 May 2018
I hate to be dull. But this is an accurate account of what happens in a power vacuum. Specifically a power vacuum created by civil war. Rape, murder, injustice. Mostly by self appointed sheriffs like Hopkins himself. He will rid you of Satan for a quantity of silver. He is therefore quite a modern man. A service provider and a decision maker.
Of course his brand of executive action eventually goes to far.
That is inevitable where there is both money to be earned and absolute power.
The film does take liberties with the historical events by the end. That is right. It is enough to know that men like Hopkins did exist in seventeenth century England.
The locations are beautiful and authentic.
The horse riding scene three quarters of the way through is an amazing display of both energy and the picturesque.
Its an interesting film to watch.
It looks great in HD.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants something a little bit different from the usual.
Especially as they no longer repeat these films at about midnight on a Friday for the pub crowd coming back. As they used to.

Worth the price.
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on 6 February 2018
For it's day and a limited budget film, you won't get much better than this with fine actors such as Vincent Price, the good looking Ian Ogilvy, Hilary Dwyer and Rupert Davies. I saw this film aged 16, it scared me then and it still scares me now knowing this was a true story and Mathew Hopkins did exist. Price played an amazing Hopkins, cold and calculating. One of his best part in films although impeccable with everything that he did.
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on 10 January 2017
Menacing tale here starring Vincent Price hunter of witches who will go to any extremes to get his confession so he can be paid. Price is just priceless what more can be said of such a talented and dearly missed actor one of the greats. He is so menacing but also nonchalent and that's what makes his role work so well. The movie isn't very long at 83 mins and something is always happening. Solid performances all round Ian Ogvily is also edgy as his right hand man. Good period pieces and costumes and a real feel for those times as documented through film. Michael Reeves directs. Perhaps Prices' most violent movie.
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on 24 January 2014
For all the fans of this great classic:The Blu Ray is definitely better compared to the Dvd!

-The ''Bad'' scenes on the dvd look like the poorest video quality.Here the scenes are original without loss.To me the most important upgrade this film could make.

-The night scenes look a lot better,remastered indeed.A tiny scratch here and there but not disturbing anymore.

-The colours look more vivid and there is more contrast.

-Sound is DTS decoded but still 2.0 stereo.Sound is Ok,nothing more.

Conclusion(as do other buyers):Great Blu Ray,this is the ultimate edition indeed,buy with confidence!

A tiny film company can still release great quality discs.Keep the faith!
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on 8 July 2008
Every lover of film has had a pivotal film experience, the movie that made such an impact on them that they have never forgotten it. For me WITCHFINDER GENERAL is that film. I first saw it in 1969 as THE CONQUERER WORM (AIP's American release title designed to cash in on the Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe series although the movie has nothing to do with Poe).

I was 17 years old, just about to complete my junior year of high school in Greenville, South Carolina, and was a big fan of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe series. I had seen very few films that would not qualify as G rated. The ratings system had just been introduced the year before (1968) and this film was rated M for mature audiences. Today it rates an R. It was a complete shock to the system in every way. It was the first time I had seen nudity/lovemaking before and the violence was painful and ugly. Vincent Price was cold and hard without a trace of his usual mannerisms and therefore not sympathetic in the least. To top it all off there was no happy ending and people were worse off than they were before.

Of course these things had been in films since the silent era but it was the first time I had seen them and we always remember our firsts. I have seen just about everything in the movies since then but seeing WITCHFINDER nearly 40 years later I'm amazed at how well it holds up. I am happy to report that after years of substandard VHS and DVD editions this version features the original director's cut in a beautiful print with the original Paul Ferris score issuing from the soundtrack. An added bonus is the commentary which features star Ian Ogilvy that fills in the background of the making of the film. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the film is set during the English Civil War and pits two young lovers against a sadistic Puritan witchfinder. The director, Michael Reeves, died shortly afterwards of an accidental prescription drug overdose at the age of 25.

The 5 star rating is purely subjective because of the important part it played in my overall movie development but it's a solid 4 star film anyway especially considering the limited budget Reeves had to work with. Currently available on Region 1 DVD only.
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on 2 December 2014
Matthew Hopkins,{Vincent Price} debt collector, evil, in the time the time of Oliver Cromwell, stops at no cost to recover the debt he feels that his owed to him along with his gang of thugs. A vicour is possessed by Satun, or so he feels, and two other village members are put through torture, expericencing the most appalling circumstances for that time. Ian Oglivy, a solider under Cromwell's army. his his a relationship and a purposal of marriage to the vicour's daughter. Can he save them from the terrible Witchfinder General and can there be a happy ending.
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on 12 August 2010
A superb film, and for this price one cannot complain.

However the description given here in amazon of THIS edition of the dvd is incorrect - there is only one cut of the film on here, and NO extras at all.

I give the film 4 stars - an absolute classic and still pretty disturbing even by today's jaded standards. It's probably Vincent Price's finest hour too. A classic in every sense.

4-stars for the film, but this is a bare bones release.

Note to Amazon: COuld you please delete the DVD desription as it is clearly inaccurate and misleading - I ordered the DVD because I wanted those extra scenes mentioned.....
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on 2 April 2018
Great for information and historical accuracy isn’t too bad. Mostly digitally remastered, but some areas that are the original film quality which lets it down a little.
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