The world famous De Wolfe Music Library are re-issuing some of the rarest and most sought after soundtracks from their 100 year history. Among them is Paul Ferris’ soundtrack to the 1968 classic Witchfinder General which starred Gothic-horror legend Vincent Price in the title role.
The film was directed by Michael Reeves (The Sorcerers, Castle of The Living Dead, She Beast), who died suddenly in 1969 aged just 25. Witchfinder General was his last film.
Telling the story of the sadistic and brutal Matthew Hopkins (the eponymous Witchfinder General), this was a controversial film upon its initial release, with many of the more graphic scenes of violence being cut. The director’s tragic death added to the film’s notoriety and helped forge the cult status it has today.
Alongside Michael Armstrong’s Mark of The Devil (1970), this is one of the films responsible for the endless amount of doom metal songs that have been written about burning witches over the years. From the late ’70’s/early ’80’s heavy metal band named after the film to Cathedral’s classic anthem Matthew Hopkins – The Witchfinder General, it’s influence is still felt to this day.
The disc contains a total of 33 tracks, many of them short cues used to add tension to pivotal scenes in the film. The shortest of these ‘Drama Sting No.1,’ is just 11 seconds in length and the longest, the awesomely-titled ‘Interrogation of The Priest’ is 3 minutes 49 seconds long. Despite the brevity of the individual tracks, they manage to capture the mood of the film perfectly. The gap between each track is quite short, giving the impression of one big piece of music, rather than thirty little stings.
Comprised of brooding strings, deep percussion and woodwind with sparing use of acoustic guitar, Paul Ferris’ soundtrack will appeal to all fans of cult films from the 1960’s and ’70’s. It has a sinister, psychedelic feel which creates the ‘vibe’ that separated the classic Hammer Horror era from today’s school of film making. Although this film was made by Tigon (the studio who produced Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Creeping Flesh among many others), it would suit many of the classic films made by their commercial rivals.
For the last few decades, the original master tapes of these recordings were missing, presumed lost. Fear not, the remastering process has been expertly carried out and the sound quality on the CD is excellent. A vinyl version would have been perfect, but as it stands this CD edition is affordable and a real pleasure to listen to.
This CD comes in a gatefold digipack sleeve with reproductions of the films original artwork and a 12-page booklet with sleeve notes. Highly recommended for fans of the current slew of retro horror soundtracks being reissued lately. For lifelong fans of the original film, it is, of course, an essential purchase.
CD out now on De Wolfe
Content Copyright © 2014 Steve Wilson and The Third Realm