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By Emily Booth, Thursday 1st June 2017 One of the most brutal and corrupt periods in English history forms the backdrop to our network premiere this weekend as the true story of the infamous witch hunter Matthew Hopkins is laid bare. Made in 1968 by British company Tigon, Witchfinder General was directed by the up-and-coming 25-year-old Michael Reeves and stars the one and only Vincent Price in an incredibly chilling performance; one that the actor says is the finest of his career. But more on that later.
First, a bit of history for you... It's 1645, and civil war tears Britain apart as the Royalists battle the Roundheads for control. In these superstitious times, the bloodshed was not only on the battlefield, but in the Church too. Hundreds of people were killed - accused of witchcraft - a fear that pervaded the land in a grip of religious paranoia as the Church was determined to maintain control. One man, Matthew Hopkins, was appointed the task of hunting, torturing and executing supposed witches; a task he exploited and relished for his own financial as well as sexual gain. Officially at this time in Britain torture was illegal, but Hopkins invented his own demented methods of 'torture' (water ducking, the devil's mark, sleep deprivation, blackmail) to pluck out so called 'confessions' from desperate women. He was solely responsible for the deaths of roughly three hundred women over a two year period, although counting Europe as a whole, a staggering 40,000 - 60,000 people were executed accused of heresy.
The film version of events is surprisingly accurate, and at the time in 1968 caused a huge stir for its depictions of violence and torture. Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins is the epitome of sanctimonious intolerance, cruelty, and sleaze, but it was not an easy shoot for the actor.
There was a simmering atmosphere on set due to the clash between director and lead star. Whether this was Reeves's intention - to anger Price in order to extrapolate a genuine performance - is unclear... But it seems the director won the battle, encouraging a more restrained, cold and calculating performance from Price.
Michael Reeves was a promising talent, but due to depression and insomnia took an accidental overdose and died just one year after Witchfinder in 1969, aged just 26 while working on the new AIP movie The Oblong Box.
And it seems Matthew Hopkins is set to rear his ugly head once again with The Neon Demon director Nicolas Winding Refn announcing last year that he'd acquired the rights to remake this 1968 cult horror. While in Cannes he stated he wanted to do the film he described as "fascinating in its physical and emotional violence" justice. Though whether it will be set in 1645 like the original or completely updated is still on the cards. With the film supposedly going into production this year, there's no news on this yet. We'll just have to keep sniffing around this exciting new project!
A chance to catch this notorious horror, Witchfinder General is on Saturday 3rd June at 10.50pm with an introduction by myself.
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Posted on Wednesday 11th October 2017
You only need to be in one place on Friday the 13th, and that's here on Horror, where all things unlucky come to life in the most horrifying of ways! This week we're upping the fun quota with the last installment of one of the most popular cannibal franchises of recent years. It started in 2003 with Wrong Turn and the creation of those three memorable brothers; One Eye, Three Finger and Saw Tooth. What a gene pool that family's blessed with! It was the combination of such solid characters, the wild woodland location of the West Virginia Mountains, and an abundance of hot young flesh on offer that led to a lucrative franchise that's now 6 movies strong. Following the original film, it was FrightFest regular and all ...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: Horror celebrates the King in October
Posted on Wednesday 4th October 2017
Stephen King fever is everywhere right now, and with the icon turning 70 last month, it doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon. This summer's IT reboot caused cinematic shock waves on a global scale, and the recent Gerald's Game is being touted as one of the must-see horrors of the year by the critics.
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Posted on Friday 22nd September 2017
Back in 1995, the year 2021 seemed thankfully such a long way off. As the millennium dawned ever closer and prophecies of doom and demise were thrown around we reacted the only way we know how. With movies! The 90's saw a slew of paranoia fueled films exploring the increasing interfacing of humans with information technology, as for the first time in history the internet came to define and control our lives. The Lawnmower Man ('92), Hackers ('95), Strange Days ('95), Existenz ('99), and of course the daddy of the cyberpunk bunch - The Matrix ('99). But surely there was nothing to truly worry about, right? The Future's not here yet?! Well, according to our dystopian thriller on Friday, it'snow only f...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: Big Ass Spiders and James Wan this weekend on Horror!
Posted on Tuesday 12th September 2017
Sometimes a good title is all you need to know exactly what you're in for; Nude Nuns with Big Guns, Lesbian Vampire Killers and now Big Ass Spider! Doing exactly what is says on the tin, our network premiere on Friday rides the current Mega Shark wave of 'bigger is better', but before you roll your eyes at this one (as I did) this is one seriously fun romp from start to finish with a fast pace, great script and brilliant comedic actors. You know you're in for a good ride from the outset as the film starts at the peak of the action, the camera pulls out revealing "Heroes" actor Greg Grunberg (who played lovable cop Matt Parkman) caught in the midst of chaos and carnage filmed in slow motion while a cover son...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: It's Violence of the Lambs this Friday!
Posted on Tuesday 5th September 2017
I am now fully recovered from five days of (on-screen) bloodshed at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 which finished last week. It was my 11th year at the festival presenting for Horror Channel since first cutting my teeth as the Horror Channel host way back in 2007. During this memorable year there was a film that really stood out from the crowd - Black Sheep - which incidentally gets its network premiere on Horror this Friday at 9pm! So I thought I'd scratch my brain cells and tell you a bit about this previous FrightFest hit.
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Posted on Wednesday 16th August 2017
The term 'Folk Horror' has become widely used in Horror academia to describe usually British films that dabble in all things pagan and witchy. With a strong connection to our pagan routes, 'Folk Horror' was popularised by countless Hammer Horror and Tigon films in the '60s and '70s with The Witches (1966), Witchfinder General (1968), and The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), although arguably the most iconic of the sub-genre is The Wicker Man made in 1973, which is now a beacon of worship in its own right!
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Posted on Monday 14th August 2017
It's that time again!
I cannot believe it is nearly a year since I was presenting at FrightFest which moved to Shepherds Bush temporarily, but is now back at its true 'Dark Heart' the Cineworld and Prince Charles in Leicester Square and I am so excited to read about this years line up and returning FrightFest favourite guests Joe Lynch and Adam Green (cheeky boys those two!).
For starters the festival organisers have decided to open the 5 day event with a real crowd-pleaser as everyone's favourite pott--mouthed demonic doll is back in Cult Of Chucky. This time the one and only star Jennifer Tilly is in attendance too alongside director Don Mancini and Fiona Douri...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: Open House
Posted on Friday 28th July 2017
Don't open your door to Tricia Helfer...!
Oh yes, any "Battlestar Galactica" fans out there will be seeing our Tricia in a very different light this Saturday night on Horror when she swaps her sexy Cylon 'Number Six' look for that of a psychosexual killer in the network premiere of Open House.
Seen as one of the sexiest women in sci-fi, she definitely indulges her darker side in this home invasion horror where quite a few other familiar faces pop up, before they get the chop. Alice (Rachel Blanchard) is putting her beautiful home on the market following a bitter divorce with Josh (Stephen Moyer), but unwittingly attracts a sadistic couple into her life; David (Brian Geraghty) and Lila (Tricia...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: Get obsessed and possessed on Horror!
Posted on Thursday 20th July 2017
As many of you are no doubt aware, one of Europe's biggest horror film festivals, Horror Channel FrightFest, descends upon London's Leicester Square over the August Bank Holiday weekend. For 5 days, every fear, phobia and nightmare is dissected in new and horrifying ways in a festival that handpicks the very best in global horror, both big and low budget - high and low brow! It's all there and so will I be, presenting Facebook Live events and chatting to anyone I can get my claws on! I'm sure I'll see many of my faithful fans over the weekend, but to celebrate and give our beloved viewers at home the festival experience we present FrightFest Season; a retrospective of doub...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: Get ready to meet The Tall Man...
Posted on Thursday 13th July 2017
Most horror fans will already know this elusive yet enigmatic man; villain of one of the strangest, most surreal and nightmarish horror movies in the stratosphere. If not, you've missed out (and, ummm, where were you in the '80s?) Not to fear though, because Horror Channel proudly has the network premiere of the one and only Phantasm this coming Saturday. Throw logic and plot out of the window for this one and just get swept up in its dreamlike quality.
The film came out in 1979 and has since snowballed into a huge cult favourite spanning 5 decades, with 5 films, countless comics, fan sites and merchandise. The word 'phantasm' actually means 'something that is seen or imagined but is not real', and it is Don...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: Will you see The Apparition?
Posted on Thursday 6th July 2017
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It all begins in 1973 when a group of parapsychology students tried to contact a deceased colleague, it famously became known as the Charles Experiment, fast forward a few decades Felton and two others decide to recreate and soup - up the experiment for the technology age in a bid to prove the existence of the paranormal once and for all.
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Posted on Friday 30th June 2017 This weekend's film premiere explores the terrifying yet grotesquely tantalising circumstances of one of the world's greatest tragedies of all time.
The fear of nuclear fallout is etched into the consciousness of pretty much anyone who grew up in the 1980s, which is largely due to the catastrophic Chernobyl Disaster on April 26th, 1986. When reactor no. 4 exploded, it emitted 400 times more radioactive material than the Hiroshima atomic bomb did. Surprisingly, there were only 31 direct deaths recorded at the time, but the magnitude of this disaster's aftermath is still relatively unknown, as even today more and more health problems amongst survivors are attributed to radiation exposure, such as cancer and...SHARE: READ MORE PICK OF THE WEEK
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