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Blood on Satans Claw

Blood on Satans Claw – 1971
A living nightmare of black magic… and unspeakable evil!

Piers Haggard

Piers Haggard
Robert Wynne-Simmons

Peter L. Andrews
Malcolm B. Heyworth
Tony Tenser

Patrick Wymark – The Judge
Linda Hayden – Angel Blake
Barry Andrews – Ralph Gower
Avice Landone – Isobel Banham
Simon Williams – Peter Edmonton
Tamara Ustinov – Rosalind Barton
Anthony Ainley – Reverend Fallowfield
Wendy Padbury – Cathy Vespers
Howard Goorney – The Doctor
Robin Davies – Mark Vespers
James Hayter – Squire Middleton
Michele Dotrice – Margaret
Charlotte Mitchell – Ellen Vespers
Denis Gilmore
Davies Mark

Review by John Rouse Merriott Chard

Tigon’s Talons
Out of Tigon Productions comes Blood On Satan’s Claw. Directed by Piers Haggard (who co-writes with Robert Wynne-Simmons) it stars Patrick Wymark, Linda Hayden, Barry Andrews, Michele Dotrice & Wendy Padbury. Story is set in rural 17th century England and sees a village fall under demonic possession after a living one eyed skull is unearthed by the local ploughman.

Well it’s quite a title the film has got, the sort that conjures up many a blood curdling image. Yet it’s somewhat misleading, but in a good way. There is indeed claws involved, and definitely “Old Nick” is part of the equation, but Haggard’s film is more moody and quirky than the title suggests. It has definite links to Tigon’s flag bearer, Witchfinder General, tho not nearly as clever or as brilliantly cruel as Michael Reeves’ film. We are in the company of Wiccan ceremonies and satanically influenced children, throw in some sexually charged dalliances and we are good to go. Hell there’s even some smarts in the writing about class distinction and snobbery.

However, the first half of the piece is more rewarding than the last half. The atmosphere and eerie thematics give way to standardised jolts and gore, with a finale that just comes off as slow-mo silliness that doesn’t befit the earlier build ups in the script. The music (Marc Wilkinson), photography (Dick Bush), costumes (Dulcie Midwinter) and the acting (particularly petticoat terror Hayden) are of a very high standard. It’s such a pity that the director loses sight of the tone marker set and fails to see it thru to a satisfying conclusion. Still, it’s definitely one of the better British horrors from the 70s; with eye catching period detail and a haunting poetic feel for the most part, Blood On Satan’s Claw is a safe recommend to those that like a bit of Witchcraft and Satanism in their horror diets. 7/10

Review by Sven Soetemans

The Devil’s presence rarely felt this real…,
The Blood on Satan’s Claw is a terrific seventies film from Tigon Productions and yet, it’s still pale compared to their greatest film – this being `The Witchfinder General’ staring Vincent Price. Don’t let the opening sequences of this seventies film mislead you. The first 20 minutes are rather disappointing, with false scares and missed opportunities to set a satanic tone right from the start. The only real moments to enjoy during these initial 20 minutes are the atmospheric images of rural Britain around the 17th century. The photography of the little cursed village, completely isolated from the rest of England, is shown very effective. Yet, the real `horror’ only kicks in when we’re introduced to the absolutely astonishing Angel Drake. The young –and bewitching – Linda Hayden plays this shrew from hell. The plot can be summarized as followed: Satan (although never directly referred to as) takes over a little town by transferring his maniacal thoughts and devilish rituals over to the local adolescents and teenagers. Led by Angel Drake, these `children’ perform witchcraft, mutilate and brutally kill fellow children who’re marked by the growing of Satan’s Skin (a bizarre fur suddenly growing on their bodies).

Truly atmospheric and tense with a dazzling demonic theme, subtle undertones of eroticism (Hayden seducing the priest in the church!!) and a spirited courage of director Haggard to break all the typical taboos in horror (pedophilia! Or the Children as symbol of evil!). Patrick Wymark is terrific as `the Judge’ but you can’t help imagining Peter Cushing to play his role. I read in the production notes that Cushing was approached to star (as well as that other British horror legend, Christopher Lee) but the budget of the film was too small. But, just because the budget is modest, it doesn’t mean the film can’t be shocking. On the contrary! The group-rape scene – controlled by the ghastly eyes of Hayden – is still shocking, even by today’s standards. Can you imagine the impact this particular scene caused at the time it was shot? In the year 1970, mind you!

Despite a few flaws, `The Blood on Satan’s Claw’ is an absolute highlight in the British horror field. Especially recommended to admirers of Hammer films and semi-sleaze lovers. The only let downs (aside from the semi-tedious opening) is the rather annoying overuse of inappropriate music and the all-too-dramatic slow motion ending.

Blood on Satans Claw – 1971

Review by Wayne Malin

OK…but what’s the big deal?,
Satan is (somehow) resurrected and starts up a coven of children in a remote village in England in the 17th-century.

Very low budget (it shows) but the film is very serious, well-acted and has an interesting music score. And there’s some gore but it’s used sparingly to good effect. But I didn’t really like it.

First off, the print I saw had very faded color and little bits and pieces were cut out during the first half–very annoying. But most damaging is the plot–it doesn’t make any sense! Why was Satan resurrected? Why go after children? What’s this stuff about his skin? Why does one person grow claws (!!!) at the beginning of the film? All of these questions are brought up but not answered. I DID watch all the way through mostly because there was some beautiful scenery, it took itself seriously and the good acting (Linda Hayden is particularly good as Angel Blake). Still, the gaps in plot bothered me a lot. This is mostly a forgotten picture–it’s easy to see why.

So, it’s OK but no great shakes. However the Satan costume was pretty effective.

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70s Films

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