Of all the Vincent Price films, one has stood out time and time again as the most sinister: Witchfinder General. And while it’s long been known that the film is getting a remake, it’s director has just been announced.
Deadline reports that Nicolas Winding Refn’s production will feature John Hillcoat as director. The Australian director was the man behind the camera for 2009’s The Road and 2012’s Lawless – both of which are gripping, dramatic powerhouses. Hillcoat says:
“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.”
The combination of Nicolas Winding Refn and John Hillcoat seems like a surefire way to make a stylized and polished movie. The original version of Witchfinder General from 1968 was a grim, serious film, devoid of any camp found in many other Vincent Price films. Roger Corman was never further away than this particular film, seeing Price play an uncompromising sadist in the historical horror piece.
Hillcoat might just be the perfect man for this job; Witchfinder General’s horrors lie not in the supernatural and ghoulish, but in the very real terrors of man’s cruelty. A believable cast is key, and a viewing of Lawless would surely be enough to make you understand why one would be so excited for the Refn production to have this director on board.
If you’ve never seen the original Witchfinder General, please do yourself a favor and seek out a copy to watch immediately. It’s an underrated gem that will hopefully soon get the recognition it deserves.