The Blood on Satan's Claw

Out-hammering hammer, this remastered 1970 weirdie is often slotted into the short-lived genre of folk-horror, movies which (like the better-known ‘The Wicker Man’) played on then-fashionable ideas of an ancient British folk tradition. Cue oo-arring peasants, ominous aristocrats, heaving bodices, human sacrifice and a big fluffy demon that demands blood. Patrick Wymark is magnificent as The Judge, a bolshy, brooding demon-hunter with a moral compass wavering somewhere between Van Helsing and Matthew Hopkins. His chief adversary is Angel Blake (Linda Hayden), the statuesque blonde teenager whose service to Satan involves hanging about in the woods, brainwashing the local kids and getting her kit off in front of a priest.

Like most British horror from the era, ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ vacillates wildly between hilariously unconvincing and genuinely nasty. Many of the performances and much of the effects work fall squarely into the former category: the appearance of the ‘skin of Satan’ – basically a really naff demonic hair transplant – doesn’t work at all. But a few of the scares hit hard, and one scene in particular – a horrific rape sacrifice – still feels genuinely shocking. It’s visually beautiful, too, with an unusual but effective use of in-camera framing, and the score by Mark Wilkinson is creepy and immersive.

Release details

Duration: 93 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Piers Haggard
Cast: Patrick Wymark
Linda Hayden
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