The classic Michael Reeves horror Witchfinder General is getting a remake produced by Nicolas Winding Refn.
Deadline reports that the 1968 masterpiece, which was Reeves’ final film, is being remade by the Drive and The Neon Demon director, and that the hunt is currently on for a writer and a director.
Refn’s in a bit of a horror phase at the moment, with The Neon Demon premiering at Cannes and his Maniac Cop remake in production, with John Hyams directing and Ed Brubaker writing.
Witchfinder General, which was called The Conqueror Worm on its US release, starred the great Vincent Price as witch hunter Matthew Hopkins, burning a sadistic trail through the English countryside. It was considered to be shockingly violent on its release and it’s still remarkably potent today.
It’s not surprising to learn that Refn is a big fan of Reeves. The British director was a strongwilled, outspoken director who had an unwavering vision that others sometimes found hard to get on with. There’s the famous story from the set of Witchfinder General, as Reeves kept telling Price that he should tone his performance down until the horror icon finally snapped “Young man, I have made eighty-four films. What have you done?” Reeves, then 24, answered “I’ve made three good ones.” Price delivered one of his finest performances and made peace with the director when he saw the results.
Reeves tragically died about a year after finishing Witchfinder General. He had become an alcoholic and suffered from anxiety, and died in his sleep after accidentally overdosing on barbiturates. His tragically short life and career is rightfully mourned as one of the great losses for British cinema, and Witchfinder General is still one of our best horrors.
Refn describes the original as “very visual and contemporary…fascinating in its physical and emotional violence,” and he described Reeves as going “against the kitchen sink.” Although it’s hard to think what could be added to the film, Refn’s presence does make a remake a more interesting proposition. We’ll just have to wait and see who they get to write and direct…and who could step into Price’s shoes?
You can buy Witchfinder General on Blu-ray for £20.12 at Amazon.co.uk. Keep up with the latest horror news with the new issue of SciFiNow.