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Saturday, September 8th 2007

6:13 PM

Witchfinder General on DVD this Tuesday

  • Posted by: Steve Biodrowski

All things come to him who waits. And it has been a long wait for the 1968 cult classic WITCHFINDER GENERAL to reach U.S. shores in its original, unaltered form. This English production (the last by director Michael Reeves before his untimely death by drug overdose) is one of the most highly regarded films that the late, great horror star Vincent Price made toward the end of the '60s, but for U.S. distribution it was altered and retitled (to THE CONQUEROR WORM) in order to make it seem like a resumption of Price's series of Poe adaptations that had lain dormant since THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964). Later home video release, on VHS, only added further indignities in the form of a new synthesizer score, replacing the original orchestral music, and gratuitous nudity (which had been filmed by executive producer Tony Tenser, over the director's wishes, for the German market). A British Region 2 DVD release included the censored U.K. version of WITCHFINDER GENERAL plus the slightly longer "export" version (with gruesome footage restored via grainy inserts). Over two years ago, at a screening of an English print of the film in Hollywood, producer Philip Waddilove promised that MGM had a fully restored version of WITCHFINDER GENERAL fully prepped for a U.S. DVD release within a few months, but then MGM was sold to Sony, who put the plans on hold. Now, at long last, the DVD is scheduled to hit store shelves on Tuesday, September 11.

I wrote fairly extensively about the screening at which Waddilove announced the DVD; it was part of a tribute by the American Cinematheque to Vincent Price. Read my report here.

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