This film, set in 1645 strife-torn England has Price in a serious role very different from his usual tongue-in-cheek horror flicks. This one is more of an historical drama with violent episodes than a true horroe film. Price plays Matthew Hopkins, a lawyer and witchfinder who journeys from town to town seeking and killing suspected witches, usually women or royalists or Cromwell's supporters or papalists or just about anyone else who is different.
While keeping to the letter of the law, Price and his henchman certainly break the spirit with their cruelty and sadism. THe plot revolves arounf two young lovers, RIchard and Sara, caught in Hopkins web. Sara's uncle, a priest, is accused of witchcraft and is tortured and jailed. Sara, to save his life, seduces Hopkins but eventually is also accused of witchcraft and jailed and tortured. Richard vows revenge against Hopkins. Several more people are burned, hanged, tortured, etc. before the inevitable end.
The film is violent and disturbing. I'm not sure if it's disturbing because it is violent or because it is not violent enough since the real actions that took place would have been more horrific and evil than what could be displayed on film.
It's an upsetting film. Price is good as the zealot who hides behind the law for carrying out his evil intentions. John, his henchman, is a sadist who simply enjoys torturing people and gets away with it. The film is authentic in its portrayal of English life during the Civil Wars with its harsh cruelty, depravity, breakdown of social order, etc.