“I work to serve God — to rid the world of all evil.”
After falling in love with a bewitchingly beautiful barmaid (Olivera Katarina) in a European village, a count (Udo Kier) apprenticing as a witch-hunter to a lord (Herbert Lom) is distressed to learn that not only the town’s local witch-hunter (Reggie Nalder) but Lom and his team are deeply corrupt, arresting and torturing townspeople either for financial gain or sadistic satisfaction.
Infamous for garnering a “V for Violence” rating at the time of its release (and for offering vomit bags to audience members) this English-dubbed West German horror film is merely “torture porn” wrapped in the guise of a respectable historical drama a la The Conquerer Worm/The Witchfinder General (1969) or The Devils (1971). Handsome, wide-eyed young Udo Kier displays exactly one expression throughout the film, and it’s humorously ridiculous to hear “sensual music” on the soundtrack every time he sees or interacts with feisty Katarina (who is no great actress, but is appropriately lust-worthy and has fine screen presence). The film’s message — that witch-hunting was deeply corrupt and driven by impulses far removed from religiosity — is well-taken (and likely true), but again, simply a vehicle for scene… after scene… after gratuitous, gory scene… of medieval torture (think stretching racks, Chinese water torture, rape, tongues ripped out, etc.). Naturally, this kind of flick has its fans — but for all other film fanatics it will make for tough viewing.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Nice cinematography and use of outdoor sets
Nope. Appropriately listed as Trash in the back of Peary’s book.