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Thread: Euro Films About Witch-Hunting: Witchfinder General, Jess Franco, The Devils and more

  1. #1
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Euro Films About Witch-Hunting: Witchfinder General, Jess Franco, The Devils and more

    So, a few weeks back, I let slip my desire to pitch an article about Euro witch-hunting films - and promised/threatened to do this some day.

    For what it's worth, I went ahead and did this. Last week, I finished assembling a five-part, 13,000 word piece about the key European witch-hunting films. This was published online today, in time for Hallowe'en. Researching and writing this gave me a great opportunity to revisit some films I hadn't seen in an age, and to go back and reread, at least in part, my battered old copy of MALLEUS MALEFICARUM, Matthew Hopkins' A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and King James' DAEMONOLOGIE - not to mention THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN.

    The piece was split into five parts for publicaton. The first part covers Michael Reeves' MATTHEW HOPKINS: WITCHFINDER GENERAL, which was the benchmark for the films that followed - moving the witch-hunting theme away from its Gothic trappings and into the daylight:
    https://www.thefilmagazine.com/witch...ema-1968-1976/

    The second part covers Piers Haggard's BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW and Michael Armstrong's MARK OF THE DEVIL:
    https://www.thefilmagazine.com/witch...a-1968-1976/2/

    The third part covers Adrian Hoven's MARK OF THE DEVIL, PT II, Otakar Vavra's WITCHHAMMER and Ken Russell's THE DEVILS:
    https://www.thefilmagazine.com/witch...a-1968-1976/3/

    The fourth part covers Jess Franco's films THE BLOODY JUDGE and LES DEMONS - both of these set during the Monmouth Rebellions:
    https://www.thefilmagazine.com/witch...a-1968-1976/4/

    The final part covers Paul Naschy's INQUISITION with a brief sidebar into MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL:
    https://www.thefilmagazine.com/witch...a-1968-1976/5/

    I ended it there, with some reflections on how the themes of these films - with their persecution of heretics - evolved into the nunsploitation picture - in films such as Franco's LOVE LETTERS OF A PORTUGUESE NUN, and the likes of Bruno Mattei's THE OTHER HELL, and Joe D'Amato's IMAGES IN A CONVENT.

    To be honest, revisiting the Franco films, I found THE BLOODY JUDGE a bit of a slog (Chris Lee's performance and Bruno Nicolai's excellent score aside) and a confused film; when Franco revisits the same historical context (the Monmouth Rebellions) in LES DEMONS and throws himself into the material, embracing its more fantastical possibilities, we end up with a much more engaging film. Also, revisiting LES DEMONS so close to my rewatch of Otakar Vavra's WITCHHAMMER, it seemed that LES DEMONS overlapped with some elements of Vavra's picture to the extent that I was certain Franco must have been familiar with WITCHHAMMER: there seems to be as much WITCHHAMMER in LES DEMONS as there is Ken Russell's THE DEVILS.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  2. #2
    Intellectual Carrot Scott's Avatar
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    These are great, Paul, I can't wait to read through them all!
    "When I die, I hope to go to Accra"

  3. #3
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    These are great, Paul, I can't wait to read through them all!
    Enjoy, Scott. It was nice to finally put this idea to rest and see it to completion.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  4. #4
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    Great stuff, Paul!

  5. #5
    Senior Member The Silly Swede's Avatar
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    Very good work Paul. You inspired me to rewatch Witchfinder General, as it was on Prime and I hadn't seen it since the days of VHS.
    "No presh from the Dresh!"

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