#1  
Old 11-16-2011, 11:08 PM
The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)

I personally believe in Christianity and the battle of good versus evil. However, I’m not a fanatic about it and do not completely know what to make of it. My heart is not totally in it, but it seems very real. What I do fully believe is that there is something genuine about the supernatural battle of good versus evil. I have felt good in my heart and I have felt evil in the back of my mind trying to tempt me. Let’s take the issue of pornography. The last time I checked, it is almost universally accepted, because it is everywhere and will not go away. We can “thank” freedom of speech for that. What is the percent of men addicted to the subject? I’ve heard 90% of men (including boys it seems) thrown around, and that might be an exaggerated number. I believe that everyone, or almost everyone, is stirred up by something, and an evil force is responsible for trying to lure people into the gutter. It might be the Devil or it might be another entity. It can range from minor issues such as stealing to major ones such as committing murder. And it could play a part in the psychology and pathology found in every individual. In my case, I can thankfully sigh of relief that no part of me is attracted to the smuttiness of porn, and that what does stir me up is only a minor issue that is very far removed from that disgusting subject matter. In return, I pass no judgment on others. But as it stands, I have felt an evil presence in the back of my mind trying to tempt me before and it will try to tempt me again. I have been to the gutter, and always feel like a million bucks when I resist temptation.

There is a point to the anecdote above and it fully resonates with this film. It set in England in the 1600’s, and concerns the Devil stirring up a village. It is definitely the Devil or Satan, or whatever name he/it wants to go by. There are religious undertones, but not anything that will alienate viewers. This is ultimately a horror film about the ancient witch hunts of yesteryear. In the beginning, a gardener is plowing a field and uncovers a mysterious corpse. It would have the folks at “CSI” puzzled. It is more beastly than it is human. It has claws and dark hair all over its body. It is the Devil in physical form and he, or it, makes lively appearances later. Why is it there? Why is it on earth instead of Hell? Was it always there waiting to be discovered and begin a reign of terror? Has this particular field not been plowed before? It doesn’t matter, because the corpse is no longer there when the gardener returns with the Judge. And who is the Judge? This is a question that can be answered. He is the patriarch of the village. And he is quick to dismiss Ralph, the gardener, when much of the corpse is missing from the field. The skeleton remains, but the hideous features Ralph described have vanished into thin air. What was peculiar about the corpse is that it was not as decomposed as it ought to be, especially in the ground. Soon after, the local children will find the claws belonging to the corpse and keep them amongst themselves. This will be a problem.

The Judge’s son, Peter, returns home with a fiance. The Judge is a tough but reasonable man. When it comes time, his mind will be open to the possibility of supernatural forces tearing his village apart. When he meets Peter’s fiance, Rosalind, he is quick to dismiss her and naturally questions if she’s good enough for his son. Well, maybe or maybe not. He lets both of them sleep in the same house, but separately. Rosalind has to sleep in the attic. And it is off-camera when she encounters something terrifying. Peter and his family hear her scream. When she stops screaming and they check up on her, she acts like a possessed lunatic. She is sent away the next day. And before Peter sees his would-be bride taken away, she looks at him like she never looked at him before. There is something cold and creepy in her eyes and has even grown claw-like fingers. Perhaps she was meant to infect the town with her evil and start a cult. But without her, the Devil will have to find another leader within the children.

That is precisely what happens. With the children already in possession of the corpse’s claws, they are gradually infected. And the child nominated to lead all the children in a cult is a darling, little girl ironically named Angel. Early on, she undresses in front of the local reverend and tries tempting him. The actress, who must have been older than her character, bares it nearly all. So does another actress placed in the unwelcome role as a human sacrifice during a ceremony. This takes place during the second act, and the movie concludes with one more ceremony at the end. The Devil makes his presence known at the ceremonies. He, or It, appears in full form but is wearing a black robe and hood. In most of the shots, the Devil looks believable enough. In a few shots, it is not so believable. Overall, the Devil makes a startling presence that is not spoiled.

Other than taking part in the ceremonies with one or more human sacrifices, the infected children gang up and kill some innocent children on the side. It becomes considerably sick, dark and disturbing. The act of rape even plays a part in the ceremonies. It is hardly as disturbing as the exploitive content in “Last House on The Left” and “I Spit on Your Grave,” but it is disturbing when you consider that they are children being played by slightly-older-but-still-young actors. This is not a point to make against the movie, and I was definitely not expecting it. It is just a horror movie, and any movie featuring infected children in a cult was going to go down a dark route. The filmmakers succeed with what they set out to do, and the actress portraying Angel displays a cold intensity.

There is a lot that I’m not saying. There are more disturbing events that take place in The Judge’s house, and other disturbing events that take place around the village and in the woods. The source behind the mayhem is not a witch. It is definitely the Devil at work and the movie concludes with a satisfying, if not-all-believable ending. This was a movie that originally aspired to be ambiguous with the evil at hand. This has happened before in other movies and it will happen again in the future. Studios and producers traditionally prefer movies with visible and presentable villains, as well as third acts that show some action. The more fireworks, the better. I don’t exactly know what the filmmakers originally intended, but the final cut hardly betrays the film’s underlying idea. The film is well-thought out and makes good use of the Devil in a few token appearances and scares. It is unexpectedly disturbing, for better and for pure effectiveness. But at the same time, it is fortunately directed in an understated manner with restraint. It is also suspenseful and creepy, and is well-acted by a talented and committed cast.

*** out of 4

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 11-17-2011 at 06:28 PM..
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  #2  
Old 11-17-2011, 12:31 PM
You sure took some time for the review for sure, good stuff!

The Blood on Satans Claw is among the weirdest of those british horror movies from that era and I like it very much. Thereīs so much strange shit going on here...from the total dickwart of a judge whoīs given the hero-part, that weird teenager witchcult, that total out of the blue comedy part right after the most disturbing scene of the film. The DVD has a very good commentary with some of the cast and the director, itīs well worth picking up.

A strong 7/10 for me.
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  #3  
Old 11-17-2011, 06:40 PM
I'm always ready with my reviews and have them on file, but I was a going back and forth with myself over whether to include the slightly personal opening paragraph. I wanted to make a point with it, and was worried I might alienate others. Hopefully, I haven't.

This movie is very different from the norm and I was not prepared for what it would throw at me. It falls into a small niche of British films that includes "The Wicker Man."
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  #4  
Old 11-18-2011, 09:46 AM
I personally didnīt feel alienated by your opening paragraph. Although Iīm very far from agreeing with the porn-issue it shows that the movie affected you in some way, which is a good thing. Nothing wrong with sharing that in a review as long as people donīt start preaching (which you didnīt).

I donīt really see the connection to "The Wicker Man", exept that both are sorta "folky" horror films with strong connections to heathenism (I donīt know for sure but most of that the kids do in "Blood on Satanīs Claw" seems to be rooted in some kind of pre-christian naturalistic religion).
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  #5  
Old 11-18-2011, 12:33 PM
Good vs. evil...yep. Looking for the film now (never seen it). Good review.
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  #6  
Old 12-10-2011, 10:34 AM
Ok, Duke Nukem, I have to ask. What to you constitutes a "fanatic"?
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  #7  
Old 12-10-2011, 05:12 PM
I've been mostly staying off the internet lately and checking in once or twice a week. Feeling spoiled by it. However, it is difficult to completely stay away from it. I just caught this and will clear the issue.

I mean nothing in particular regarding the "fanatic" statement. I would define the term "fanatic" as anybody who believes in religious matter - or any subject matter - so strongly, that they force their beliefs on others and alienate them in the process. Everybody believes in something, or nothing, and I respect their view points.

Back to my "vacation." See you in January.
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  #8  
Old 12-10-2011, 07:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke Nukem View Post
I've been mostly staying off the internet lately and checking in once or twice a week. Feeling spoiled by it. However, it is difficult to completely stay away from it. I just caught this and will clear the issue.

I mean nothing in particular regarding the "fanatic" statement. I would define the term "fanatic" as anybody who believes in religious matter - or any subject matter - so strongly, that they force their beliefs on others and alienate them in the process. Everybody believes in something, or nothing, and I respect their view points.

Back to my "vacation." See you in January.
The reason I ask is because that is exactly whay we are called to do.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Commission

It's like finding a gloriuos treasure and then sharing it for the good of all.
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  #9  
Old 12-11-2011, 03:11 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv7s3ADuyHo
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  #10  
Old 12-12-2011, 11:02 AM
This was a very well done review, as always, Duke! I've never heard of this film (to be honest, I just now clicked on it because of the over-the-top title), but considering your words and the fact that it is from the 70's (an Era of film I wish that I could claim to be more acquainted with) I just may check this out next time I get the chance!
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  #11  
Old 02-02-2012, 09:45 AM
I've been meaning to check this out forever, but I never could find a copy. I love Hammer-esque films and your review and the review from The Bad Movie Report have me really wanting to watch this.
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  #12  
Old 02-02-2012, 09:40 PM
I checked out the Bad Movie Report. It was amusing and not everyone is going to feel the same way about the movie (warning to others, it gives the whole movie away). It does have an old-school feel to it - call it Hammer-ish or not - which is partly why I enjoyed it. I have seen only a handful of Hammer films, and can identify a little bit of Hammer-ish-ness in it. If you definitely want to try something different unlike the 1980's variety, it is a good movie to turn to. I am surprised that you haven't found a copy. I found it at a horror convention, and the vendors at the conventions seem to have their own online businesses now - and I'm the only person on Earth who refuses to buy movies online. Look for it again and you might find it. Good luck.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 02-02-2012 at 10:02 PM..
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