‘Witchfinder General’ Being Remade by Nicholas Winding Refn and John Hillcoat

by Nick Banks

Witches may soon be on the endangered species list, as Nicholas Winding Refn and John Hillcoat are preparing to remake the 1968 film which starred one of the perennial horror actors of all time, Vincent Price.

In an exclusive report from the Cannes Film Festival via Deadline, Refn (the director of Drive and Neon Demon) praised Hillcoat (best known for 2009’s bleak dystopian adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’ novel The Road), saying that “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.”

Hillcoat was just as excited to work with Refn, saying that Refn is “… 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 original film was directed by Michael Reeves and starred Price, Ian Ogilvy and Hilary Dwyer and was also based on a novel by Ronald Bassett.  The film takes place in 1645 in Norfolk, England, and is a highly fictionalized account of witch hunter Matthew Hopkins.  Due to scenes depicting  torture and violence, the film was heavily edited by the British Board of Film Censors for its UK release (naturally, the US got the uncut version).

Stay tuned for more information on this remake, which is slated to begin production later this year.

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