The Blood On Satan’s Claw (Haggard, 1971) was created during the peak of the folk-horror genre, and has paired by critics with classics such as The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973) and Witchfinder General (Reeves, 1968). A quintessential British horror fit for Christmas, I would say, as well as being a surreal antithesis to films like Home Alone or Miracle on 34th Street.
The plot centres on an 18th century English rural town, in which a deformed skull is excavated by Ralph, an innocent farmer. The supernatural fears of this freakish find are shunned until the youth of the town are possessed by its Satanic magic, one woman sprouting a claw and others growing random patches of hair on their bodies – “That’s what they call the Devil’s skin”. The trailer alone is quite comical to watch now in the 21st century, but it is a perfect snapshot of horror at that time. Dealing with the occult, a big scare of the early 70s, this film hones in on its history and the fantasy of Satan spreading through town-folk. The Devil’s Daughter (ironically called Angel, played by Linda Hayes) is beautiful but deadly, and there is no clear hero in this plot.
For all music fans, the soundtrack is more menacing than the summary of the film, an eerie ensemble of strings to fit the black magic infesting a quiet town.
For all cinema nerds out there, what’s a better way to kick off the festive season than a classic folk horror film about satanic possession? It will set up for the winter chills down the spine, and is most definitely not your typical Christmas film shown anywhere else! As a horror film fan, I’m particularly excited about this special showing, and hope everyone is ready for a very witchy Christmas!
Book your ticket here.