In the XVIII Century, in the countryside of England, the landsman Ralph Gower finds a skull with one eye and fur on the field. He summons the local judge to see his finding but it has disappeared. Meanwhile the local Peter Edmonton brings his fiancée Rosalind Barton to his aunt's house to marry her on the next day. However during the night Rosalind becomes insane and in the morning she is sent to an asylum and Peter sees a claw that has replaced her hand. Then Peter wakes up with a claw attacking him and he cuts it out, but he finds that he has hacked down his own hand. The local children have a strange behavior under the command of Angel Blake and they rape and kill others. In common, they have a strange fur on their skin. The judge returns from London and concludes that evil has possessed the children. What will he and his search party do?Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
One of the best British horror movies of the early 70s, and no, it's NOT Hammer.
The British horror boom of the 60s and 70s was dominated by Hammer, but a couple of other studios, Amicus and Tigon, tried their best to make their mark. Amicus are probably the better remembered of the two, with a few well loved anthologies to their credit (e.g. 'Asylum'), but Tigon actually made the better movies, especially the now classic 'Witchfinder General', directed by doomed cult figure Michael Reeves, as well as 'The Creeping Flesh', and 'The Blood On Satan's Claw', which is what 'Satan's Skin' is best known as. This movie frequently gets compared to 'Witchfinder General', but apart from being set in a similar era, and even having one actor in common (Patrick Wymark who plays The Judge here had a small cameo as Oliver Cromwell in 'Witchfinder General') they are quite different in approach and execution. Piers Haggard is no Michael Reeves but he's had an interesting career which has included the underrated final 'Quatermass' series (which starred Sir John Mills) and the entertaining Oliver Reed/Klaus Kinski exploitation thriller 'Venom', as well as working with Dennis Potter on 'Pennies From Heaven'. I still don't think 'Blood On Satan's Claw' is as good as 'Witchfinder General', but it's an excellent chiller nevertheless, and one of the most underrated British horror movies of all time. Like Reeves Haggard knows how to make the most of a small budget, and he manages to create an unsettling and creepy atmosphere. Also like Reeves he makes brilliant use of the English countryside. Patrick Wymark sadly died shortly after completing this movie, but it's a good testament to his talent. He gives a terrific performance. Also look out for his work in 'Repulsion' and 'Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun'. Seventies sex siren Linda Hayden ('Baby Doll', 'Madhouse', 'House On Straw Hill') is also memorable as Angel Blake, the leader of a Satanic group of young villagers. She looks absolutely stunning, and has one unforgettable nude scene. The supporting cast includes a few familiar faces, most notably Michelle Dotrice ('Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em') who plays Margaret, and Wendy Padbury (Zoe from 'Dr Who') who plays Cathy. The only thing I can really fault with this movie is the ending, which is a bit rushed and anti-climactic, but apart from that it's one of the best British horror movies of the early 70s, and highly recommended viewing.
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