The Blood on Satan’s Claw – UK, 1970 – reviews of film and audio adaptation

Cannon used the same ad line for The Beast in the Cellar

‘A chill-filled festival of horror!’

The Blood on Satan’s Claw is a 1970 British supernatural horror feature film directed by Piers Haggard (Quatermass TV serial [1979]; Venom [1981]) from a screenplay by Robert Wynne-Simmons, with additional material by Haggard. Released in January 1971, it was promoted as Blood on Satan’s Claw and was also issued in the US as Satan’s Skin.

The movie stars Patrick Wymark, Linda Hayden, Barry Andrews, and Michele Dotrice.

Plot:

In early 18th century England, Ralph Gower (Barry Andrews) uncovers a deformed skull with one eye and strange fur on it while ploughing a field. Ralph insists that local judge (Patrick Wymark) look at it, but the skull has vanished and the judge disregards Ralph’s supernatural fears.

Later, many people in the village become affected by its supernatural power, including a young woman (Tamara Ustinov) who sprouts a claw, and children who find a strange claw and then behave oddly and grow patches of fur on their bodies.

the-claw-in-tigon-horror-movie-blood-on-satan's-claw-1970

Peter Edmonton (Simon Williams) rides to a neighbouring town to find the judge and bring him back to eradicate the evil. After doing some research in a book about witchcraft, the judge returns. The judge learns that the evil children in the village will gather nearby…

On 27 May 2019, Screenbound Pictures is releasing The Blood on Satan’s Claw (using its full title) as a 4K remastered edition with new extras, limited to 4,000 copies.

  • Underneath Satan’s Skin: Interview with Piers Haggard (Director) and Robert Wynne-Simmons (writer)
  • Commentary with Piers Haggard, Robert Wynne-Simmons and Linda Hayden
  • Commentary with Mark Gattis, Jeremy Dyson and Reece Shersmith
  • Touching The Devil – The Making of Blood on Satan’s Claw
  • Interview with Director Piers Haggard
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • A 20-minute preview of the audiobook by Mark Gatiss
  • Interview with Marc Wilkinson (composer)
  • Interview with Tony Dawe (sound mixer)
  • Interview with Simon Williams (actor) 16-page booklet, written by Mark Morris
  • Postcards Poster

Review:

This seminal British folk horror film is in many ways an unofficial follow-up to the same producers’ 1968 classic Witchfinder General, which had delivered a slap in the face to cosy Hammer horror and influenced a number of similarly-themed films at the time (amongst them Mark of the Devil; Cry of the Banshee and The Bloody Judge).

Like Witchfinder, The Blood on Satan’s Claw is a rural tale of witchcraft and corruption, but whilst Michael Reeves’ earlier film had shown the brutality of witch-hunts where innocents were tortured and murdered, this film has a more overtly supernatural slant.

The plot skillfully interweaves a few different tales, all taking place in a small country village during the 17th century after the discovery of a skull – with eyeballs intact – in a local field. The Devil is soon at work, corrupting the local children (led by popular exploitation queen Linda Hayden) who eagerly take to sexcapades and even murder before the local magistrate (Patrick Wymark) finally arrives to put an end to the satanic influence.

The Blood on Satan’s Claw still looks fresh today thanks to authentic locations and a series of images which still have the power to shock. Performances are generally excellent, with Linda Hayden excelling as the seductive Angel Blake. Her full-frontal scene in the church remains one of British horror’s most unnervingly sensual moments. With some deliciously ripe dialogue (“I scarce can tell it, I was so afeared”), this is a unique movie to savour.

David Flint, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

“… when watching Satan’s Claw, the viewer is left wondering how much more terrifying it would have been if the monster was never seen, and it was left ambiguous as to whether there were supernatural events afoot (or a-leg), or if it was just some form of mass psychosis on the part of the children, being led by a homicidal girl called Angel.” British Horror Films

The Blood on Satan’s Claw is, amongst other things, a classic example of the filmmaking of its era now much fetishized by genre fans, with a lustrous yet gamy physicality in the cinematography and unvarnished production style that seems unreproducible with today’s so-slick ways of shooting and editing films.” Ferdy on Films

“Country living soon incorporates rape, casual murder, and ritual sacrifice, as Angel’s influence drives her callow Mansonites to ever-more-depraved extremes. The Blood on Satan’s Claw is not just an exploitation-in-the-English-countryside vehicle in the Hammer horror tradition, or an example of the demonic-possession sub-genre that was enjoying a fruitful run-up to The Exorcist, but also a member of the evil-youth sub-genre… ” Deep Focus

blood on satan's claw blu

2012 Interview with Director Piers Haggard
Audio Commentary with Piers Haggard, Linda Hayden and Robert Wynne-Simmons
Audio Commentary with Mark Gatiss, Jeremy Dyson and Reece Sheersmith
Touching the Devil – The Making Of Blood on Satan’s Claw
Linda Hayden: An Angel for Satan
Theatrical Trailer
Stills Gallery

Buy: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

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

Choice dialogue:

Ralph Gower: “But it weren’t human sir, there were fur!”

The Judge: “Witchcraft is dead! And discredited! Are you bent on reviving forgotten horrors?”

Offline reading:

Ten Years of Terror – FAB Press

Beasts in the Cellar: The Exploitation Film Career of Tony Tenser by John Hamilton, FAB Press

Buy Beasts in the Cellar: Amazon.co.uk

$_12

Blood-on-Satan's-Claw-Linday-Hayden-publicity-shot
Linda Hayden in a coffin publicity shot

bloodonsatansclaw-dvd-cover-2
la pelle di satana

4times

Blood-on-Satan's-Claw-Beast-in-the-Cellar-ad-mat

Filming locations:

Bix Bottom Valley, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England
Black Park, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England

Censorship:

The Blood on Satan’s Claw was submitted to the BBFC on 21 September 1970 by Chiltern Films Ltd. In order to receive an ‘X’ certificate, cuts were required but there are no details available.

Trivia:

Co-production company Tigon is misspelt as ‘Tigron’ on the credits!

Blood on Satan’s Claw is a 2018 British audio adaptation of the 1970 film of nearly the same name by novelist Mark Morris (Cinema Macabre; Doctor Who). The Bafflegab Productions release is available on a CD or digital download.

17th century England, and a plough uncovers a grisly skull in the furrows of a farmer’s field. The skull disappears, but its malefic influence begins to work in insidious ways upon the nearby village of Hexbridge.

First, the cows stop milking and the fruit turns rotten on the trees. Then, an insolent ungodliness takes hold of the local children; mysterious fur patches appear on limbs; and people start disappearing… Something evil is stirring in the woods. Something that is corrupting the village youth, who retreat to the woodland deeps to play their pernicious games.

Hysteria spreads as it becomes clear that the Devil has come to Hexbridge, to incarnate himself on earth. Can the villagers, led by the Squire Middleton (Mark Gatiss) and Reverend Fallowfield (Reece Shearsmith), prevent the Devil gaining human form?

Starring the voices of Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Reece Shearsmith (Inside No. 9), Alice Lowe (Prevenge), John Heffernan (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), Ralph Ineson (The Witch), Thomas Turgoose (This is England), Rebecca Ryan (Shameless), Philip Hill-Pearson (Good Cop) and Linda Hayden (Angel Blake in the original movie).

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Manages to outshine its source material in moments of true terror… a must-buy for any fan of quintessentially English horror.” Starburst magazine

“A charming and chilling audio, perfect for a cold night by the fire.” Sci-Fi Now magazine

Blood on Satan’s Claw delivers more than two hours of a world going mad from the bottom up, in a production that bristles with fear both ancient and modern and keeps you constantly on edge, waiting for the next episode of ghastly, demonic bullying to come and put you through the wringer” Mass Movement

“A respectful, accomplished and reflective interpretation of the source material, best enjoyed by the listener on a dark cold and windy January night, tucked up in bed at night, headphones on, illuminated by nothing more than the dim glow of a bedside lamp.” We Are Cult

 

4 Comments on “The Blood on Satan’s Claw – UK, 1970 – reviews of film and audio adaptation”

  1. Always had the feeling I should like this one more than I do. It’s British Horror, nice to see Doctor Who’s Wendy Padbury and Anthony Ainley, the performances are good, as is the atmosphere and photography (love the scene where Padbury is being led to the woods and the coven then all appears from behind the trees and bushes). But for some reason, it just never clicked with me in the end. The eyebrows they slap on Linda Hayden to signify she is “evil” just make her look silly, the Judge all too quickly goes from non believer to Witchfinder General mode, and the final reveal of the creature and defeat of the coven is very anti climactic. Shame they didn’t have the money for a better realized creature.

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