12 January 2010

Blood On Satan's Claw

The Blood On Satan's Claw is classic British horror, a Tigon films production which adheres very nicely to the Hammer Horror mould. It's all set in seventeenth century England, which means 'authentic' costumes (which are almost supernaturally clean, even those belonging to the peasants and farm labourers), and 'authentic' dialogue, which basically means people swap round the order of the words and use 'thou' and 'mightn't' an awful lot. But you either love these sort of horror films or you don't, and if you do then part of the whole delight of them is the cheesy dialogue, the pristine costumes and the egregiously bad special effects.

As the film opens, a strangely deformed skull is unearthed (featuring what looks like a real sheep's eye), surrounded by strange fur. It promptly vanishes whenever anyone of any importance comes to look at it, and instead the more gullible members of the village are slowly taken over by its evil and sinister power, ring-led by Angel Blake, finder of a most sinister and unearthly claw. Most of the possession and evil acts centre around the children of the village (all of whom seem to be played by teenagers, probably because there's a fair bit of nudity and clothing removal in the later stages, along with the odd satanically-induced rape). Very shocking, for 1971 standards.

Thankfully, the chap who dug the skull up in the first place figures out what's going on when he comes across a band of men trying to drown an innocent woman as a witch. He recognises the same fur, growing in a patch on her body - 't'is Satan's skin' he declares, and after a pretty good attempt at removing it with a straight razor, grabs the judge from a nearby village. That's just what's needed to get together a band of burly peasants and give the satanic beast a good hiding. Phew!

The Blood On Satan's Claw misses off the 'the' for most film listings, although it appears in full on the actual film's title shots. It was released as Satan's Skin in the US. The soundtrack, by Marc Wilkinson, is hardly noteworthy, yet managed a CD and limited edition vinyl release in 2007.

Released: 1971
Director: Piers Haggard
Genre: Horror
Barry Andrews as Ralph Gower
Patrick Wymark as The Judge
and Linda Hayden as Angel Blake

1 comment:

  1. "The soundtrack, by Marc Wilkinson, is hardly noteworthy" - are you kidding...? Its a superb piece of work.