Horror Movie Review: Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)

In a small village in 17th century England something strange is occurring. Something that is affecting the people of the village. It all begins when Ralph (Barry Andrews) uncovers an unusual looking skull. One with a remaining eye and fur on it.

Frightened, Ralph goes to the local judge (Patrick Wymark) and informs him of his find. His supernatural fears are laughed at and dismissed. Not helped that when Ralph brings the judge to the field, the skull is gone.

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That’s not the end of it though as the influence from the unearthly skull begins to have an effect on the village. Patches of fur appear on bodies, sickness spreads and hysteria runs rife throughout. It’s pretty clear that this is the work of Satan.

Written and directed by Piers Haggard. Blood on Satan’s Claw is one of three movies that is often placed into the mini-genre of ‘folk horror’ alongside Witcherfinder General and The Wicker Man. It certainly bears some resemblance to those movies. With its theme of god-fearing Christians struggling to fight against a wave of paganism.

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The story is great and really leaves its mark on your psyche thanks to the visceral nature of the Satanist themes. The devil’s influences predominately affect the younger members of the village and they take part in disturbing sexual acts and sacrifices. One such scene that is simply staggering to watch involves a teenage girl begin raped while the whole cult watches on. The sight of two elderly people with looks of glee on their face is pretty horrible.

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British horror always seemed comfortable with showing off the erotic side of paganism and Blood on Satan’s Claw is no different. In one scene the cult leader Angel (Linda Hayden) attempts to seduce the local priest (Anthony Ainley). She does this by offering her naked body to him. It’s uncomfortable yet erotic to watch.

It’s a movie that has you on edge as it plays out. Even though its end destination is fairly easy to spot.

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Excellent acting, wonderful cinematography and a thrilling story combine to make this one of the finer British horrors that came out in the seventies. It hasn’t had as much cultural impact as the likes of The Wicker Man. However it certainly can be held up alongside it. A horrifying tale of paganism and satanic influence in rural England.




Blood on Satan's Claw
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