Blood on satan’s claw

" A FRIEND HAS BEEN SEEN HERE­ABOUTS..." STEVE O'BRIEN RE­VIS­ITS A NEAR-FOR­GOT­TEN CLAS­SIC OF BRI­TISH FOLK HOR­ROR

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Front page -

The dif­fi­cult mid­dle child of Bri­tish folk- hor­ror.

WE PROB­A­BLY HAVE Mark Gatiss to thank for bring­ing

Blood On Satan’s Claw back into the front row of Bri­tish hor­ror films. “It was part of that folk hor­ror mo­ment in cin­ema that

in­cludes The Wicker Man,” he told The Guardian in 2010, on why he in­cluded the movie so promi­nently in his BBC 4 se­ries

A His­tory Of Hor­ror. “But The Wicker Man has been culted to death. I wanted more peo­ple to know about this one.”

Blood On Satan’s Claw has now been co- opted into an in­for­mal group of films known as Bri­tish folk- hor­ror. There it is, nes­tled in the mid­dle next to Michael Reeves’ 1968 Witchfinder Gen­eral and Robin Hardy’s 1973 The Wicker Man, a tri­umvi­rate of movies that took their in­spi­ra­tion from the bleak Bri­tish land­scape and an­cient su­per­sti­tions.

Whereas those two flicks were de­signed with loftier ideals than the then- cur­rent glut of Ham­mer and Am­i­cus hor­ror movies, Blood

On Satan’s Claw could have so eas­ily turned into a lurid and in­stantly for­get­table schlocker. Although pro­duc­tion company Tigon had been be­hind Witchfinder Gen­eral, their ini­tial plans for Blood On Satan’s Claw were more nakedly com­mer­cial. Spurred on by Witchfinder

Gen­eral’s suc­cess, pro­duc­ers Mal­colm Hey­worth and Peter An­drews had as­sem­bled a mod­est bud­get for a 17th cen­tury witch­craft-themed movie and had roped in teen star Linda Hay­den to flash her flesh.

“They had Linda as their star who was pre­pared to do nude scenes,” di­rec­tor Piers Hag­gard tells SFX, “and the eco­nomics were quite crude mar­ket eco­nomics to pro­duce a fairly schlocky film.” Hey­worth and An­drews had ap­proached a freshly grad­u­ated writer named Robert Wynne- Sim­mons to pen what was orig­i­nally con­ceived as an Am­i­cus- ap­ing port­man­teau hor­ror. With Wynne- Sim­mons’ script in place, they found them­selves in a tiny screen­ing room in Soho watch­ing a movie called Wed­ding Night, and ap­proached its di­rec­tor about their planned hor­ror an­thol­ogy.

“I read it, and it ap­pealed to me,” re­flects Hag­gard, who was only 30 at the time, and

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