Monday, 9 November 2015
Witchfinder General (1968)
"They swim! The mark of Satan is upon them! They must hang!"
The film, shot largely on location, looks gorgeous and convinces as the Suffolk of the late Civil War. The ubiquitous Ian Ogilvy is splendid as our hero, Richard. The plot is functional but exciting as we gaze somewhat titillatingly on to the cruelties perpetuated by Hopkins and his dimmer yet more evil sidekick, Stearns. There is, I think, something more than a little creepy in the film's voyeuristic glee at the torture and execution of comely young women, that can't be denied. But Price's sheer charisma draws you in as you watch agog at one of the most evil characters in cinema.
A violent and, at times, extremely disturbing and misogynistic film that it is impossible not to be riveted by. Dark, edgy, uncomfortable in its sadistic use of the male gaze, but no one can accuse this of failing to be compelling viewing.