In Elizabethan England, a wicked lord massacres nearly all the members of a coven of witches, earning the enmity of their leader, Oona. Oona calls up a magical servant, a "banshee", to ... See full summary »
England is torn in civil strife as the Royalists battle the Parliamentary Party for control. This conflict distracts people from rational thought and allows unscrupulous men to gain local power by exploiting village superstitions. One of these men is Matthew Hopkins, who tours the land offering his services as a persecutor of witches. Aided by his sadistic accomplice John Stearne, he travels from city to city and wrenches confessions from "witches" in order to line his pockets and gain sexual favors. When Hopkins persecutes a priest, he incurs the wrath of Richard Marshall, who is engaged to the priest's niece. Risking treason by leaving his military duties, Marshall relentlessly pursues the evil Hopkins and his minion Stearne. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
The real Matthew Hopkins was only in his mid 20s in 1645 and died before he was 30. Vincent Price's character is middle-aged, like the actor himself. Hopkins and Stearne executed more than 300 people, mainly women, during their two or three years of '"witch hunting". Considering that 500 people in total were executed for witchcraft in England between the late 15th and late 18th centuries, it means that Hopkins was responsible for two-thirds of these executions during a period of three years. See more »
The camera shadow on the back of one of the villagers on the bridge just before the accused witches are lowered in the moat. See more »
[United States Conqueror Worm versions]
LO! 't is a gala night/Within the lonesome latter years./An angel throng, bewinged, bedight/In veils, and drowned in tears,/Sit in a theatre to see/A play of hopes and fears,/While the orchestra breathes fitfully/The music of the spheres."
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A powerful and unsettling film which is definitely not for the weak - kneed. Not easy to watch in some parts. But the mid-17th century was a turbulent time in British history with a civil war raging and the foul menace of devil worship festering throughout the countrysyde.
All the players do a fine job. Although, Vincent Price is, of course, the stand-out performer. No other actor was able to portray genuine evil quite as effectively. There's no high camp fooling around in this one. What a brilliant talent he was.
The music in this picture also deserves a special mention, particularly the opening theme which magnificently recreates an appropriate 17th century mood. Michael Reeves sheer production skill overcame the limitations of what was obviously a tight budget.
I personally believe that the 1960s was the golden era of English cinema and television. Check the internet for extensive biographical information on the real Matthew Hopkins- WITCHFINDER.
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