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Posted 4th May 2009 at 10:41 AM by Sam@Cult Labs

Witchfinder General





Michael Reeves only directed three films before his tragic death from an overdose of downers in the late 60s. Luckily he left us with some fantastic films including a great late Boris Karloff vehicle, the Sorcerers, but of the three, Witchfinder General is his masterpiece, a slice of harrowing 17th horror that's a million miles away from the campy fun of it's Hammer contemporaries.

Vincent Price dropped the melodramatic style of his usual roles a little to portray Matthew Hopkins, a sadistic murderer who prayed on the superstitions of country folk, hunting down then burning hundreds of innocent people as witches, a service that he charged handsomely for.

Shot through with dark, violent imagery and a realistic portrayal the historic period in which it is set, Witchfinder General moves away from the high camp of the Hammer cycle to present a far more dour, truthful vision of England in times past than the weird mix of Victoriana and Medieval stylings found in classic Hammer films. The movie is a classic of British horror that still packs a nasty punch despite it's age and features perhaps Price's finest screen role.

Read a review of Reeve's Brit-horror classic The Sorcerers


Absolution





From the writer of the Wicker Man and starring the late, great Richard Burton, Absolution is a film that has never really had a great release history and thus remained essentially buried since it was made in the late 70s, turning up occasionally on budget labels and public domain releases. This is a shame because, despite some flaws (this is not the cult classic that Wicker Man became for instance), it's a interesting psychological thriller that also has the added bonus of featuring a supporting role from a hairy late 70s model Billy Connolly, as a vagrant biker.

Burton plays a stern priest who presides over a private school. One of his boys decides to play a prank on him, confessing to the murder of a fellow pupil. When Burton goes to the place where the boy says he dumped the corpse, he finds an old scarecrow instead. Bound by the tenants of the confession booth, he cannot expel the boy, so when the pupil returns to say that this time he has really done it and the priest finds a body, the knowledge of the crime combined with his inability to do anything about it, because of confessional rules, conspires to drive the priest to the brink of insanity...Despite some issues with erratic pacing, Absolution is an interesting movie and fans of the Wicker Man especially will want to see this.


Tommy





Fiddle About...Fiddle About...



The cinematic excesses of British director Ken Russell could never be underestimated, be it in the Catholic baiting nun insanity of The Devils, The surreal melodrama of Savage Messiah or here, in this all singing, all dancing film version of rock legends The Who's ground breaking Rock Opera, about a deaf, dumb and blind kid who find redemption, stardom and finally the death of ego by becoming an iconic pinball player.

Who mainman's Pete Townsend's classic music is transformed into a super surround sound score with the addition of layers of frazzled synths and the game cast, that includes Oliver Reed, Anne Margaret, Elton John and a show stopping Tina Turner, are amazing. They all enter into the crazed spirit of things, helping to create a riot of camp madness, violence, colour, 70s styles and Rock 'n' Roll.

A pop culture classic.
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