My experiences with Vincent Price films is almost next to none. All I got is his voice and likeness appearances on the Scooby Doo cartoons. I didn’t quite know what to expect when delving into the Odeon Entertainment’s Blu-ray edition of Witchfinder General. Something to the like of being light hearted and tame was my initial impressions before even watching the movie because I had this idea that Vincent Price was too family oriented and that the late 60’s wouldn’t allow much to be reveal as far as shock and vulgarity value goes. Boy, was I wrong…
As England is in distress due to a civil war amongst the Royalist and Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads, an unforeseen man rises to power exploiting village superstitions for his own gain in wealth and sexual prowess. Matthew Hopkins travels from village to village proclaiming those innocent to be witches and having them confess by brutally sadistic tortures in which there are no ways out. These tortures are carried out by his brute of an accomplice John Stearne. When Hopkins and Stearne kill a falsely prosecuted priest and repeatedly rape his niece, they invoke the vengeance of militant Richard Marshall who is engaged to the priest’s niece.
Just from that synopsis alone sends chills down my spine. Vincent Price as Hopkins doing such dastardly deeds is pure shock value enough. Price’s character has me deeply interested in searching out more of his films as I think this performance would be hard to top. There were tremendous performances all around with Robert Russell as henchmen John Sterne and Rupert Davies as the relentless pursuer Richard Marshall. These three men stir the balance of right and wrong with no clear cut to who is who until the very end. Bonds would break and than reunite while trusting one’s word is good enough until their payment becomes void. The treachery of the film can be more appalling than any film to date.
Odeon Entertainment’s region free Blu-ray release has an amazing image for a film that is over 40 years, but with such an aged film, there comes a lot of noise which seems to be enhanced by the quality of image. What makes this release so remarkable are the special features. I won’t list them all, but there is a shit load of alternate scenes and documentaries. Before the opening scene, the edition gave a warning of random black outs and missing dialogue, but to my knowledge, as I watched the film entirely due to its captivation, I saw none of which it warned.
In the height of British Hammer Horror, there lies a gem of sleaze and pure evil that may resemble Hammer but yells Americana with Vincent Price leading the charge. This might have been Michael Reeves last directorial from his short lived career, but the man had great potential before suddenly dying at the young age of 25. His ability to say so much without action or without words is spooky and prodigy-like. Definitely check out Odeon’s Blu-ray release ofas it will play on any player as well as give you the best image to date.