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Conqueror Worm


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A bewigged Vincent Price goes full-on evil in The Conqueror Worm, based on the life of England's self-proclaimed "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins. Hopkins and his assistant, John Stern, ride through spectacular location shots around England, looking for disciples of the devil to torture and burn. (Indeed, the devil must be at work, for the skies are bright blue even though people keep saying it's nighttime.) Nevertheless, Hopkins and Stern seem to have a knack for picking on the innocent, notably the fiancée of young soldier Richard Marshall. Price turns in another top performance, delicately mixing false piety and sadism with a dash of lecherousness. Can Hopkins be stopped? Will Marshall risk desertion to save his love? Why are those women just sitting around the inn topless? The answers to these questions and more await you in The Conqueror Worm. --Ali Davis

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10 2004
Format: VHS Tape
England has a civil war between the Royalist and the Parliament Party that are fighting for power over the country. Matthew Hopkins and his aid John Stearne exploit the situation of the war as they travel around finding witches to kill in the name of God, which in essence is a way for them to live out their sadistic behaviors. Many poor individuals fall under brutal torture by Hopkins and Stearne which often leads them into confessing witchcraft. The two servants of God make one mistake as they kill a priest that is good friends with a soldier and also rape the soldier's future wife. Conqueror Worm
(UK Title: Witchfinder General) is a fierce horror film with historical implications to the failure of Christianity and witch hunts. The film will leave the audience with distaste for the action of humankind that was sanctioned by Christian Church. In the end, Witchfinder General offers a satisfactory cinematic experience that gives a cause for the audience to ponder our past, current, and future actions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By OverTheMoon on May 30 2004
Format: VHS Tape
... or maybe the best horror western ever. What you make of this will depend on two things. How much you like old British horror and how much you know about the production of this particular film. When you realize that this is the last production of a young talented Director, Michael Reeves, who died (25 - accidental overdose) on the path to being one of the all time greatest film directors, and that this is his third, last and best film, you will under its value (as an example of his talent watch the shot in this film of young children cooking potatoes in the ashes of a 'witch' that has just been burned). It is a notch above your average late 1960s early 1970s horror films. In fact it is a notch above nearly every British film making it one of the British modern classics.
The story is based on the real life times and crimes of the lawyer and Witchfinder General - Mathew Hopkins, who set about destroying alleged witches across England with the full power of the law. This film depicts the various acts of torture and trials conducted on witches making it an extremely important historical document (as a note the Western influence comes from the gallant long countryside horseback riding shots, mobs in the villages and things like gallows being erected in the same vein as the cowboy movies in the USA of that era. It WORKS extremely well!) It is also certainly the best rendition of such grim persecutions to date on the screen (US viewers should think Salem Witch Trials x 100).
There is an interesting plot involving a young soldier whose fiancée's father - a priest, is put on trial for witchcraft while the soldier is away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jerry McDaniel on March 18 2004
Format: VHS Tape
first off, i'll come out and say that i don't care about the petty feuds between Vincent and the director, or the star and director of any movie! from what i've learned, Reeves was acting like he was a hot shot and by 1968 Vincent was a LEGEND and knew his way around acting and when he questioned the director about something, Reeves coldly replied that Vincent was clueless and his entire career was meaningless. now, had this been a stuffy or an egotistical celebrity i wouldn't have a problem but my god, Vincent Price? He was one of the least egotistical people in the profession and he didn't take himself seriously, and because of this it allowed him to spoof himself in the later years and have fun with his image. Reeves also never visited or checked up on Vincent after an accident happened on the set: Vincent fell off a horse and Reeves purposely ignored Vincent hoping the anger would come across on film! this 1968 film on witch-craft and Matthew Hopkins shows what a great actor Vincent was. Who else had the versatility to do this intense film but yet a year prior he was cavorting around as Dr. Goldfoot in two films as well as appearing as Egghead on the TV show "Batman"! Vincent is often ignored and his LONG career (1935-1992) is constantly being down-played by critics who prescribe the silly notion that horror movies are bad and anyone who gets a kick out of them are bad for society. such garbage! Matthew Hopkins, as played by Vincent, isn't lovable or hammy as we all love Vincent to be...this is probably the only role of his where the viewer has no sympathy and you cheer on his eventual comeuppance and this one is a doozy! it IS a horror movie because it has all the elements: violence, evil, blood, death, intensity, scream queens, and atmosphere...Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
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.
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