Sunday 3 July 2011

Witchfinder General Blu-ray review

Witchfinder General (18, 87 mins)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

In the midst of the English Civil War, lawless Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price) and his even more brutal accomplice travel the villages of East Anglia seeking practitioners of witchcraft. Apparently doing god’s work, it’s actually little more than a front for their lust and venality, using torture and logic not much more sophisticated than that in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – she weighs the same as a duck and is therefore made of wood and hence a witch. But when one young woman and her priest uncle come under threat, her fiancé (Ian Ogilvy), a soldier of Cromwell, makes it his mission to track down Hopkins.
It’s not the most intricate plot in the world but one rich with atmosphere and texture, one of several films of its time, from Blood on Satan’s Claw to The Wicker Man, that are steeped in folklore and period flavour, and that gleefully utilise the new-found tolerance in cinema for sex and violence. Price is at his most coldly menacing, possibly never less camp, and delivers a superb performance that keeps the film motoring even when it eventually becomes largely a revenge tale solved by opportune fisticuffs.
The Blu-ray provides fine detail in a picture vibrant with colour, while extras wise it’s a step up from the previous DVD release, with the mini-doc on director Michael Reeves bolstered by a commentary, a short film by Reeves and a couple of featurettes, including a delightful appearance by Price on Aspel in which he displays a great sense of humour.

No comments:

Post a Comment