Hard-hitting 1968 horror drama Witchfinder General is set to receive a remake, and there’s some strong talent on board.
Polarising filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon) has been circling to produce a remake of the controversial ’68 classic for a few years now. It’s finally coming together, with none other than Australian director John Hillcoat at the helm. Hillcoat’s credits include The Road, Lawless and The Proposition.
Deadline broke the news, reporting that Refn is producing the film with Rupert Preston, with a screenplay by Woman in Black 2 scribe Jon Croker.
Based on Ronald Bassett’s ’66 novel of the same name, the original film was set in 1964 Norfolk, England and starred Vincent Price as real-life witch hunter Matthew Hopkins. The film offered a harsh fictionalised account of the horrific crimes Hopkins committed around the time of the English Civil War. It was a highly controversial film, the torture and violence resulting in a highly censored version being released in the UK and critics reacting in disgust.
“For almost 20 years, Rupert Preston has not only been one of the main distributors of my films, he has also been one of my closest partners in entertainment,” said Refn.
“It is with extreme pleasure that both Rupert and I can incorporate John Hillcoat into our group as director for our production of Witchfinder General. It gives me enormous satisfaction to produce John’s vision and bring the retelling of this classic British film to a new audience.”
Said Hillcoat: “I am excited to work with fellow filmmaker Nic Refn, a maverick auteur and who, together with Rupert Preston, have been fully committed to independent cinema over the years. I’m drawn to the dynamic departures behind this remake. The idea of a world pushed to extremes where fear preys upon all, unleashing religious fanaticism, rival factions, tribalism, heretics, and witch hunts… feels strangely familiar in today’s world.”
Our writer Adam Fleet took a look back at the film in a retrospective piece, saying:
Accused of sadism and exploitation on release, in many respects Witchfinder General’s strength is in its unremitting dedication to sweet, sweet nihilism. It is great because it is horrible. It hates everything. It hates you. It is a movie that revels in its own cynicism.
[…] With a dark sensibility that was ahead of its time, and a twisted refusal to redeem any character, Witchfinder General more than earned its place at the table of horror classics, and still stands tall today.
Read Adam’s full article HERE.
The new Witchfinder General is expected to start production later this year. Casting is now underway.