Label: De Wolfe
Release Date: 11.25.13
Mood: Cinematic, Orchestral, Tense, Romantic, Adventurous, Medieval
The year is 1645; it is a time of superstition, of Witchcraft and Inquisition. Witchhunters were employed to root out sorcery and black magick, by whatever means necessary.
Witchfinder General is the soundtrack from the 1968 film starring Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvvy, and Hilary Dwyer. Vincent Price plays one of his most memorable and bloodthirsty roles as Matthew Hopkins, a 17th century lawyer who claimed to have been made “Witch Finder Generall” during the English civil war. Witchfinder General was unusually sadistic for its time, disgusting many film critics of its day. It managed to score a box office success in the US, anyway, and has enjoyed a healthy afterlife as a cult film.
The Witchfinder General is considered by some to be the Holy Grail of horror soundtracks. It’s finally seeing the light of day, thanks to the tireless efforts of the legendary De Wolfe Music Library. These 32 tracks, meticulously transferred from 1/4″ master tape, are presented with lavish liner notes from John Hamilton, author of Beasts In The Cellar—The Exploitation Career of Tony Tenser, and features two dramatic stings left out of the original score.
The soundtrack, composed by Paul Ferris, is a masterful orchestra work, rife with dramatic, tense strings, baroque brass, pastoral flutes and martial percussion. Part Elizabethan romance, part Grand Guignol of the early Universal Classic Monster movies, it occupies the crossroads between Bernard Hermann‘s score for Psycho, and the archaic resuscitation of Paul Giovanni‘s The Wicker Man.
It’s refreshing to hear a full, high-budget orchestral soundtrack. Film scores have fallen out of favor, with directors either choosing popular music, or composers working almost entirely electronically, since the late ’70s. It’s just cheaper and easier.
There’s been a renaissance of classic film soundtracks of late, so perhaps that’s about to change. Listening to carefully composed movie music immerses you in the world of the film, making it come alive in your imagination. Contained within the 50 minutes of this soundtrack, you will find ACTION, advenyture, passion, ROMANCE. You will gallop across rolling hillsides on horseback, swashbuckling like Errol Flynn as you invade dank dungeons.
Most of the music on the Witchfinder General soundtrack is very short, and would make excellent atmosphere for a medieval role-playing campaign, or for writing period pieces of your own.
De Wolfe has been threatening to release this gem since at least 2009, but didn’t feel like they would make their money back. The times, as they say, they are a’ changing. This is a lovely artifact, carefully packaged with detail and care. Let’s show them we have some class, at the tail end of 2013.
Recommended Tracks: Peaceful Interlude, The Gaol, Soft Interlude, Action Mood
Grab a copy @ Amazon.uk: Witchfinder General (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Witchfinder General (aka The Conqueror Worm) on DVD & Blu-Ray: Witchfinder General