Witches have been burning up movie screens in the past five years, with Season of The Witch, The Last Witch Hunter, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and The Witch all enraptured with the horror hags and their loathsome lives. Iconoclastic director Nicolas Winding Refn is invading their weird world by obtaining the remake rights to Michael Reeves’ 1968 creepy cult classic, Witchfinder General. This historical horror flick was renamed The Conqueror Worm for its notorious American release, complete with a head-scratching association with Edgar Allan Poe. Refn wil shepherd the project and executive-produce this remake but not direct.
Originally starring Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy and Hilary Dwyer, Witchfinder General was based on Ronald Bassett’s shockingly realistic novel set in Norfolk, England, in 1645. A fictionalized account of real-life witch hunter Matthew Hopkins, it chronicled the sadistic crimes the gentleman adventurer committed during the chaotic period of the English Civil War. It was a violent, torture-filled affair that aroused considerable controversy but played well in grindhouse theaters and double-billed drive-ins across the United States.
Here's the official synopsis:
England is in civil war as the Royalists battle Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads for control. This conflict distracts people from rational thought and allows unscrupulous men to gain power by exploiting village superstitions. One of these men is Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price), who tours the land offering his services as a persecutor of witches. Aided by his sadistic accomplice John Stearne (Robert Russell), he travels from town to town and wrenches confessions from "witches" in order to line his pockets.
The film will be a low-budget production somewhere in the $5-10 million range with no director or stars yet attached, co-distributed by UK producer Robert Preston. Check out the original Witchhunter General trailer below and tell us if you're game for a new puritanical period piece.