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THE CONQUEROR WORM (1968)

Directed by Michael Reeves

Starring Vincent Price and Ian Ogilvy

Michael Reeves short life produced three terrific horror films, the last of which was "The Conqueror Worm," also known as "Witchfinder General." Each of his films had a horror legend in its cast: Price in "Conqueror," Boris Karloff in "The Sorcerers" and Barbara Steele in "She Beast." All three also starred Ogilvy.

Of the three, "Sorcerers" is my favorite, but "The Conqueror Worm" ranks as a very solid later horror effort from Price, with a surprising amount of nudity. The film influenced "The Devils," "Mark of the Beast" and countless other period "witch hunt" films that flooded theaters in the 1970s. Director Reeves took his life shortly after completing the film.

Price plays corrupt and real-life witchfinder Matthew Hopkins who, in 17th century England, goes from town to town to burn alleged pagans. Unlike later films in this sub-genre, such as "Blood on Satan's Claw" and Price's later effort "Cry of the Banshee," there are no real witches in the story. Price uses his power as a "lawyer" to extract sex from women before killing them and their loved ones, and is paid by local magistrates for his work before leaving town.

When he kills one local priest, he doesn't realize the victim is the uncle-in-law of a dashing young solder (Ogilvy) who commits himself to destroying the witchfinder. The plot pretty much revolves around Ogilvy's attempts at finding the torturer and killing him, while Price works to frame Ogilvy for witchcraft.

A seminal movie to say the least, Price has been quoted as saying this was his best role, but I've also heard reports that he felt "Theater of Blood" was his best. Unlike his usual performances, he doesn't ham it up in this film. With no supernatural elements to speak of, "Conqueror" is as much an historical drama as a horror film. The U.S. title of the movie comes from an Edgar Allen Poe poem, in an apparent attempt to market it as a Price-Poe film. In fact the story is based on the novel "Witchfinder General" by Ronald Bassett.

Early U.S. cuts of the film didn't contain any of the nudity and sex present in the edition released to video by MGM in the early '00s, so if you've already seen this film, you may want to catch it again. Tragically, it still seems to have a synthesized music score which wasn't released with the original cut. Similar problems have come up with other movies, including "Scream and Scream Again," when modern video distributors find themselves unable to secure the rights to the music.

Buy this movie on video

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Go to Splatter 666

m/exec/obidos/redirect-home/esplatter"> In Association with Amazon.com

THE CONQUEROR WORM (1968)

Directed by Michael Reeves

Starring Vincent Price and Ian Ogilvy

Michael Reeves short life produced three terrific horror films, the last of which was "The Conqueror Worm," also known as "Witchfinder General." Each of his films had a horror legend in its cast: Price in "Conqueror," Boris Karloff in "The Sorcerers" and Barbara Steele in "She Beast." All three also starred Ogilvy.

Of the three, "Sorcerers" is my favorite, but "The Conqueror Worm" ranks as a very solid later horror effort from Price, with a surprising amount of nudity. The film influenced "The Devils," "Mark of the Beast" and countless other period "witch hunt" films that flooded theaters in the 1970s. Director Reeves took his life shortly after completing the film.

Price plays corrupt and real-life witchfinder Matthew Hopkins who, in 17th century England, goes from town to town to burn alleged pagans. Unlike later films in this sub-genre, such as "Blood on Satan's Claw" and Price's later effort "Cry of the Banshee," there are no real witches in the story. Price uses his power as a "lawyer" to extract sex from women before killing them and their loved ones, and is paid by local magistrates for his work before leaving town.

When he kills one local priest, he doesn't realize the victim is the uncle-in-law of a dashing young solder (Ogilvy) who commits himself to destroying the witchfinder. The plot pretty much revolves around Ogilvy's attempts at finding the torturer and killing him, while Price works to frame Ogilvy for witchcraft.

A seminal movie to say the least, Price has been quoted as saying this was his best role, but I've also heard reports that he felt "Theater of Blood" was his best. Unlike his usual performances, he doesn't ham it up in this film. With no supernatural elements to speak of, "Conqueror" is as much an historical drama as a horror film. The U.S. title of the movie comes from an Edgar Allen Poe poem, in an apparent attempt to market it as a Price-Poe film. In fact the story is based on the novel "Witchfinder General" by Ronald Bassett.

Early U.S. cuts of the film didn't contain any of the nudity and sex present in the edition released to video by MGM in the early '00s, so if you've already seen this film, you may want to catch it again. Tragically, it still seems to have a synthesized music score which wasn't released with the original cut. Similar problems have come up with other movies, including "Scream and Scream Again," when modern video distributors find themselves unable to secure the rights to the music.

Buy this movie on video

Return to Homepage

Go to Splatter 666