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Film / The Blood on Satan's Claw

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The Blood on Satan’s Claw (released originally in the UK under the title of Satan's Skin) is a 1971 English Folk Horror/Religious Horror movie released by Tigon British Film Productions and directed by Piers Haggard.

Ralph Gower is ploughing his fields one day, and stumbles upon the grisly, inhuman remains of what he suspects to be a "fiend." He tries to warn a skeptical judge, but when he takes him to the site of his discovery, the bones are nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers playing in Ralph's fields stumble upon a few of the bones, and are possessed by their influence. Soon, the villagers begin to succumb to the influence of the fiend.

Tropes featured in this movie:

  • Agent Scully: The judge is highly skeptical of Ralph’s claims to have discovered the bones of Behemoth, even after he comes to believe that witchcraft is, indeed, present in the village. When he's presented with physical evidence of such phenomena however, he fully comes around and leads the climactic witch hunt.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Behemoth takes the form of a hairy beast in a black cloak. He has to be "completed"note  in order to become strong enough to bring doom to the world.
  • Asshole Victim: Whether or not Angel Blake was an Unwitting Pawn to Behemoth and was just brainwashed or was operating of her own volition, she still led a group of teenagers into committing acts of ritual sacrifice and rape. So it’s not terribly sad to have to see her die.
  • Badass Cape: The judge wears one, along with a nice hat.
  • Bad Boss: Angel, who leaves the slavishly loyal Margaret to the mercy of the witch hunt and sneers at the grisly fate awaiting her.
  • Bait the Dog: Margaret is rescued from drowning by Ralph, then taken in by his family and sheared of the mark of the beast. But she rejects his offer of redemptive kinship, tempts him to the coven with promises of sex, and is ultimately compelled to cooperate purely through fear.
  • Big Bad: Behemoth, the demon responsible for corrupting the town, although he works primarily through his high priestess, Angel Blake, who is treated as this by the peasants unaware of the fiend behind her.
  • Body Horror: Let's just say that the Red Right Hand borne by those infected with Satan's skin isn't pretty.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Margaret identifies herself as "the devil's child", and Angel's other minions aren't much more subtle about their dark allegiance. Angel herself maintains an ingenuous charade.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ralph's concerns about witchcraft in the village are repeatedly laughed at and ignored, despite him not being far off at all.
  • The Corruption: Whoever comes into contact with the bones of the fiend grows fur on their skin, seemingly driving them to commit acts of evil in service to Behemoth.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Behemoth is killed rather swiftly with a pitchfork. However, it remains unknown if he'll actually stay dead.
  • The Dragon: Angel Blake to Behemoth. She appears to have one herself in Margaret, who's loyal to her (or at least their cause) beyond all reason, although she's never shown to do much beyond read an invocation from a book. Too bad for her Angel is a very cruel taskmaster.
  • Evil Old Folks: An elderly couple are seen amongst the coven's members.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Ralph and Margaret. What, you thought saving her from a Witch Hunt and giving her a shot at redemption might have inspired a Heel–Face Turn, or perhaps led to a Rescue Romance? The most gratitude he gets is an offer of sex if he agrees to flee to the coven she fully intends to rejoin.
  • Folk Horror: The term Folk Horror was coined to describe this film.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Blood on Satan's Claw.
  • Hot for Preacher: Angel Blake bares her naked body to the Reverend Fallowfield. She doesn't take kindly to him turning her down.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Reverend Fallowfield refuses to be tempted by Angel’s nakedness, much to her disappointment. Ralph has a moment like this later on, when a naked woman dances in front of him during the assault on the coven, although he's a little more enticed than the reverend.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of both Angel Blake and Behemoth.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Angel looks entranced by Cathy's rape, flaying, and murder, but Margaret is very clearly getting off on it.
  • Ironic Nickname: Angela "Angel" Blake leads a coven of witches who serve the Devil himself.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: When Ralph shows the judge where he found the bones, they're gone.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Cathy is led to the coven’s meeting place, where she is brutally raped and partially flayed.
  • Knight Templar: By the time the judge returns from London, he vows to use "unheard of" methods against Angel Blake and her coven. And indeed, he interrogates Margaret whilst threatening to sic the dogs on her, and leads an all-out assault on the witches.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Peter’s hand transforms into a hairy, bestial claw. He hacks it off.
  • Light Is Not Good: Angel Blake dresses in a white gown, but she is as far from good as you can get.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The entire coven, and especially Margaret, during Cathy's rape and murder.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: This is the judge's attitude initially.
    The Judge: Doctor, witchcraft is dead and discredited. Are you bent on reviving forgotten horrors?
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Reverend Fallowfield, though obviously tempted by the sight of Angel Blake disrobing in front of him, averts his gaze and begs her to cover herself up. She is disinclined to comply.
  • Put on a Bus: Rosalind is placed in a bedlam after nearly killing Isobel; Isobel is wounded and treated, but never shown again. Similarly, Peter doesn’t make any more appearances after he warns the judge about the coven.
  • Redemption Rejection: Margaret.
  • Red Right Hand: Par the course for whoever so much as sees the bones. They grow patches of fur anywhere on their bodies, sometimes even claws.
  • Shear Menace: Angel Blake uses a pair of shears to remove Behemoth skin from Cathy’s back.
  • Teens Are Monsters: While the coven has at least a couple of elderly members, the majority of them are teenagers. And they indulge in horrible crimes such as murder and rape.
  • Undying Loyalty: Margaret, to Angel. Even after the latter leaves her in a bear trap to be torn apart by dogs.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Margaret is chased by a mob of hysterical villagers, believing her to be a witch, and is nearly drowned. Ralph saves her, but she shows absolutely no gratitude, revealing that she actually is a witch.
  • Witch Hunt: The film climaxes in one.
  • Yandere: Angel Blake tries to seduce Reverend Fallowfield. When he denies her, she lies to her father and the squire, claiming that he molested her. This nearly results in his lynching.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Margaret praises Ralph for unwittingly digging up the remains of Behemoth, and he's none too pleased with that fact.