Friday, September 21, 2007

Witchfinder General

This movie was a chore to get through. I’ve long heard of its semi-legendary status among horror movies as one of the most extreme 60s horrors out there, and with Vincent Price leading the picture I figured how could it go wrong, right? So of course when it came out on DVD this month for the first time ever I figured I just had to snatch it up. I am a damn fool.

One would think that with Vincent Price’s presence throughout, it would at least achieve some level of gallows humor to the proceedings, if nothing else, but no. What we have instead is Price and his cronies torturing people under the pretense of rooting out witches, and then killing them. Then he moves on to a new victim and repeats the process. There’s some love angle thrown in to give us someone to root for against him, but it’s really not anything amazing, certainly not enough to make up for the film’s overall meanness.

Probably the biggest problem with it was its rampant misogyny. The female in the love angle (and the only female in general of any major importance, except perhaps for the one accused witch who begs Price to spare her because she’s with child, before everyone laughs at her and kills her anyway) offers up her body to Price to save her uncle’s life, is later raped by Price’s second in command while he’s away in another town, has her husband killed anyway, is later tortured, and at no point does she ever managed to get utilized as anything beyond an object for men to fight over or abuse. This is including her husband, who kindly rushes off to kill Price and avenge her honor, but who we never truly see treating her as anything beyond something he wants and doesn’t want others to have. It’s rather typical of the film that it ends with her screaming.

This is just a bad movie all around. While yes, Price does do some decent acting (though not as good as his normal effort; perhaps even he felt a bit uncomfortable making this) and the film looks good, but that hardly does anything to save a film that is so poisoned at its core. This is not vile in the good way that From Beyond was, this is just repugnant and hateful, and its makers should all be told they’re bad people every day for the rest of their lives.

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