Out of Tigon Productions comes The 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 some what 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", though 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 through 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, The 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