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Doctor, I am leaving soon. As a favor, might I request the loan of this book? It might merit further study.
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Set in a small English country town in the 17th Century a farmer unearths inhuman remains that are covered with fur. So he gets the judge of the town to view it, but the evidence has strangely disappeared. After the discovery about the skull and fuss about, weird and horrific occurrences start developing with the appearance of the devil's claw. Also some of the children of the village led by Angel are committing unspeakable terror and performing satanic rituals in a desecrated church in the woods to restore their master.
Atmospheric brilliance on director Piers Haggard's part! Jeez, it was hard to shake off the powerfully foreboding and frantic awe that pierced the air. Mood is a very big key to this film's success in pulling you in with its pervasively chilling and subtle imprint. Visually, Haggard manages to create a beautifully staged period horror by capturing the times and making the most of it's brooding countryside and quiet rural life. What gave it such an embracing atmosphere was that it was mostly shot on location. The beautiful backdrop works rather well with the contrast to the devilishly acts occurring in the peaceful valley. Another thing that hit me and added more to building upon the feel, was the strikingly effective, fine tuned camera-work and the robust score that generates momentum with its unsteady vibe. Also the faintly placed sound effects really do scratch away and cause sudden chills! The classy performances are all strong from the British cast with some richly developed characters. But it's Linda Hayden (Taste the blood of Dracula) luminous performance as Angel Bleak the manipulative evil prowess who stands by the devil's right hand doing his work that makes the film very memorable. Also Patrick Wymark is exceptional as the Judge, the highly placed leader and hero of the town's folk. Maybe the film could have done with a star actor to give it an added boost, but those involved were more then perfect anyway. These provocative aspects took shape and simply completed the film.
The immensely original plot manages to incorporate a whole lot things ranging from folklore tales of witchcraft and Satanism practice to sexuality involving temptation, seduction and lust. This is all done with a serious face. I wouldn't call the plot flawless, as there are many unexplained and meaningless events associated within the material, but it does inject many unexpected turns. It plays around with idea that some sort of curse has hit the town with the devil's presence sinisterly lurking beneath the cracks. Although, it's not terribly all about the devil, but on the innocence of the children, to how the devil has preyed upon them to do his bidding and that's what makes this rather eerie to the bone. Since this is kind of sexually charged in a semi-way, it does provide nudity, but it's not overly graphic when it came to the violence. The gore is low. Though, saying that it does provide some disturbing, raw and perverse images that have the force to stun. It's terrifyingly unpleasant and malevolent in small patches. Like the intense ferocity of the rape scene. Now onto the make-up. Well, the devil design stays mostly hidden in a black cloak, well that's up until the end were we get a clear shot. It's not so bad for the budget. Like so many have pointed out - the only real disappointment in my eyes was the under-whelming conclusion, after being squeezed real tight with tension it just fizzles out without a bang.
Obviously there was profound talent involved, they put their heart into this low-budget production and it all came together perfectly to be highly regarded by those who've seen it. I for one agree. Highly recommended.
By the way I love the original movie poster artwork for this flick. It's damn creepy!
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