The Conqueror Worm (1968)
US (dir. Michael Reeves)
Cast: Hilary Dwyer, Hilary Heath, Hillary Dwyer, Ian Ogilvy, Nicky Henson, Patrick Wymark, Robert Russell, Rupert Davies, Tony Selby, Vincent Price, Wilfrid Brambell
Synopsis: Set in 17th-century England, this chilling tale follows corrupt official Matthew Hopkins, who claims an ability to discover witches. But he uses his power to gain money and favors from people he’s fingered in return for declaring them innocent. When he arrests and tortures Father Lowes, Lowes’s niece’s fiancé decides to put an end to Hopkins’s sleazy practices and goes on a quest to seek vengeance.
Review: “The Conqueror Worm” feels a lot like one of those boring “A Part of Our Heritage” commercials where the narrator discusses some historically significant event and a bunch of actors in period clothing stand around looking awkward. This one has Vincent Price and it’s based (very loosely) on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe about death, but that’s about all this film has to offer in terms of sheer entertainment value. The rest of the film plays out as a depressing history lesson about witch trials and the corrupt individuals responsible for the execution of so many “witches and wizards”. Should you watch this movie? I’d say don’t, because really it’s just a grim and depressing movie without a lot to offer the audience in terms of storyline and a coherent conclusion.
Essentially this film is about two corrupt officials in charge of the witch hunt (one, a stern, strict Vincent Price and the other a fatass, womanizing, rapist) who travel the country making everyone’s life as wretched as possible. They end up accusing and torturing any one stupid enough to get in their way or stand up to them, and of course they find some old fart who does just that. His niece tries to save him by “offering” her self sexually to the stern official, but this backfires when the fatass rapes her and the stern official (Matthew) no longer wants her. The girl’s boyfriend comes to town to try and save the day, but that also backfires and he ends up in a torture chamber with his girlfriend/wife.
In the end, the girlfriend/boyfriend team vanquish the bad guys, but not before going mad themselves in the process. The ending just confused the shit out of me because I could swore I heard the boyfriend screaming how they killed his girlfriend, even though she was standing right next to him. It was a bizarre ending.
This movie is neither entertaining nor worth seeing. Just don’t go see it. It has some great cinematography and the subject matter is present in a very grim tone, but other than that this isn’t a movie you watch for kicks.