| 86 MINS | COLOUR | TIGON |
Set in 1648, under Oliver Cromwell, the film tells the tale of Matthew Hopkins, a sadistic and psychopathic witch hunter.
Matthew Hopkins travels the countryside with his ruthless sidekick, John Stearne, and uses his power as a witchfinder to accrue wealth and gain sexual favours. He seeks women and forcibly extracts confessions of witchcraft from them, executes them, and then is rewarded with money from grateful townspeople in ridding them of demonic forces.
When Hopkins crosses paths with John Lowes, the priest of a small town, he tortures him for being a warlock. Sarah, John Lowe’s niece, offers herself to Hopkins and Stearne in exchange for her uncle’s life, but instead Stearne rapes her and then kills her uncle.
Richard Marshall, Sarah’s fiance and a soldier in Cromwell’s army, hears of this and swears bloody vengeance on Hopkins.
Hopkins and Stearne enter the village of Lavenham after hearing that Sarah is there. Marshall rides to the village with a group of his soldier friends, but unbeknown to him, Hopkins has set a trap to capture him. Hopkins and Stearne frame Marshall and Sarah and take them to the castle to interrogate them as witches.
No matter what deadly tortures Hopkins tries, Marshall refuses to confess to witchcraft, still threatening to kill Hopkins. Marshall manages to break free from his bonds and strikes Hopkins repeatedly with an axe. Marshall’s soldier friends arrive on the scene and shoot Hopkins to put him out of his misery. Sarah screams uncontrollably, over and over.
SpinningImage: Not the most enjoyable horror film ever made, but certainly one of the most thought-provoking.
BritishHorrorFilms: Quite possibly the greatest british horror film ever made.
RottenTomatoes: With no supernatural elements to speak of, it is as much an historical drama as it is a horror film.
Matthew Hopkins: They swim…the mark of Satan is upon them. They must hang.
- Directed by Michael Reeves
- Produced by Louis M. Heyward, Arnold Miller & Philip Waddilove
- Music by Paul Ferris
- Cinematography John Coquillon
- Production company Tigon British Film Productions
- Known in the US as The Conqueror Worm.
- Vincent Price regarded his performance as the best of his horror career.
Vincent Price — Matthew Hopkins | Ian Ogilvy — Richard Marshall | Rupert Davies — John Lowes | Hilary Heath — Sarah Lowes (as Hilary Dwyer) | Robert Russell — John Stearne | Nicky Henson — Trooper Robert Swallow | Tony Selby — Tom Salter | Bernard Kay — Fisherman | Godfrey James — Webb | Michael Beint — Captain Gordon | John Trenaman — Trooper Harcourt | Bill Maxwell — Trooper Gifford | Paul Ferris — Paul Clark (as Morris Jar) | Maggie Kimberly — Elizabeth Clark |Peter Haigh — Lavenham magistrate