Ask any horror fan worth their salt about underrated classics of the 1960s, and one film that’s sure to come up is “Witchfinder General.” Co-produced by Roger Corman’s American Independent Pictures, the 1968 film, based on Ronald Bassett’s novel of the same name, tells the queasy and brutal story story of real-life lawyer Matthew Hopkins (played by, in his best performance, Vincent Price), who claimed to have been appointed to the titular role during the English Civil War in the 17th century.
Directed by Michael Reeves, who made three impressive horror movies before sadly passing away at the age of 25, a few months after the release of this film, it’s a truly chilling, oddly realistic horror in which, despite the supernatural title, shows mankind to be the real monster. And the film is likely to be more talked about in the next few years, as a brewing remake has got a new head of steam.
It was initially announced three years back that Nicolas Winding Refn, who just debuted his new Amazon series “Too Old To Die Young” at Cannes (read our review here) was producing a re-do of the movie, teaming with produce Rupert Preston on the project. And Deadline revealed today that, after a few year of silence, it now has a writer in the shape of Jon Croker, who penned the sequel to “The Woman In Black,” as well as uncredited work on “American Animals” and the “Paddington” movies.
And what’s more, it has a director – Australian filmmaker John Hillcoat, best known for “The Proposition” and “The Road.” Hillcoat’s had a relatively quiet few years after starry cop thriller “Triple 9” tanked – his most recent work was the “Crocodile” episode of “Black Mirror.” But Hillcoat’s having a busy Cannes, both with this project and the announcement that he’s teaming with the great John Sayles for a TV drama about televangelists.
He’s a good fit with both Refn and the grim violence of the original film, and we’re interested to see what they end up turning out. More importantly, who could end up stepping into Vincent Price’s shoes in the title role? Tom Hardy? Michael Shannon? Uh, Eddie Redmayne? Hopefully it won’t be too long before we find out.