Witchfinder General (film)

1968 film by Michael Reeves

Witchfinder General (titled The Conqueror Worm in the U.S.) is a 1968 film about a young soldier who seeks to put an end to the evils caused by a vicious witch-hunter when the latter terrorizes his fiancée and kills her uncle.

Directed by Michael Reeves. Written by Tom Baker and Michael Reeves, based on the novel by Ronald Bassett.
There's lots of screaming when there's this much at stake!  (taglines)

Matthew Hopkins

  • [voiceover] Lo! 'Tis a gala night/Within the lonesome latter years./An angel throng, bewinged, bedight/In veils, and drowned in tears,/Sit in a theatre to see/A play of hopes and fears,/While the orchestra breathes fitfully/The music of the spheres.
  • Men sometimes have strange motives for the things they do.
  • I will find out the truth for you, have no fear.
  • [Hopkins and his men throw three securely-bound people into the moat as a witchcraft test] They swim... the mark of Satan is upon them. They must hang.
  • [a tied-up woman Hopkins has thrown into the moat to test for witchcraft drowns] She was innocent.
  • [voiceover] Out-out are the lights-out all!/And over each quivering form/The curtain, a funeral pall,/Comes down with the rush of a storm,/While the angels, all pallid and wan,/Uprising, unveiling, affirm/That the play is the tragedy, 'Man,'/And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.


  • Gen. Oliver Cromwell: The year is 1645, England is in the grip of bloody Civil War. On the one side stand the Royalist party of King Charles, on the other, Cromwell's Parliamentary party: the Roundheads. The Structure of law and order has collapsed. Local Magistrates indulge their individual whims, justice and injustice are dispensed in more or less equal quantities, without opposition. An atmosphere in which the unscrupulous revel, and the likes of Matthew Hopkins take full advantage of the situation. In a time where the superstitions of country folk are still a powerful factor, Hopkins preys upon them, torturing and killing in a supposed drive to eliminate witchcraft from the country, and doing so with the full blessing of what law there is. However, his influence is confined largely to the Eastern Sector of the country: East Anglia, which is held firmly in Cromwell's grasp, but not so firmly that Roundhead cavalry patrols have everything their way. For there persists an ever present threat of the remnants of the Royalist armies, desperately foraging for food, horses and supplies.


John Stearne: [about Richard Marshall] He's after our blood!
Matthew Hopkins: You're forgetting our powers... he could be a witch.

Matthew Hopkins: By the way, you know what they call me now?
John Stearne: What?
Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General.

Swallow: Stop that, Richard!
Richard Marshall: What?
Swallow: What you're thinking.
Richard Marshall: What am I thinking?
Swallow: Ungodly thoughts of your Sara, that's my guess.
Richard Marshall: Thoughts of Sara? Yes. Ungodly? Depends on how you look at it.

Swallow: [finding Richard beating Hopkins with an axe] God! [takes Harcourt's gun and shoots Hopkins dead]
Richard Marshall: You took him away from me... you took him from me... you took him from me... you took him from me! YOU TOOK HIM FROM ME!
Swallow: [makes the sign of the cross] ... May God have mercy on us all.
[Sara cries and screams in anguish]


  • There's lots of screaming when there's this much at stake!
  • They revelled in torture and murder all in the name of justice.
  • In the midst of England's bloodiest civil war, Evil ignites.
  • Vincent Price unleashes a reign of fire and fury.
  • The depraved must die... BEWARE the Witch Hunter!


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