Blood on Satan's Claw, The (1971)

The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), directed by Piers Haggard.

When a plowman unearths a weird, demonic skeleton, all Hell breaks loose. The young people are instantly converted into some sort of satanic conspiracy and strange hairy growths appear on the bodies of villagers. The Devil needs body parts to assume a physical shape.

This is nasty, early body-horror with intimations of The Evil Dead (1981), Hellraiser (1987) and The Witch (2015). We have ceremonial rape and human sacrifice and surgical excision of patches of satan's skin which are saved in a specimen jar so the local Magistrate can sniff it and give it to the dogs for tracking the beast. As one does.

Remarkably good production values: clothes, props, countryside all look authentic, as if we were transported back in time. Not played for laughs at all.

On the down side it is pasted together from three stories and plot cohesion is a problem. We're not even sure who the main characters are, but two tend to focus our attention:

The villagers do the Monty Python "if she floats she's a witch!" routine.

Photographed by Dick Bush.

Available on Blu-ray as an all-region import from Sony in the UK. Prominent grain, noisy nighttime scenes, and no subtitles.

Two commentary tracks: