Monday, July 20, 2009

"The Blood on Satan's Claw"(1971)d/Piers Haggard

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Think of British 70's also-ran, Tigon Studios,also responsible for Doomwatch and The Blood Beast Terror, as Hammer's brattish little brother(with less of a special effects budget).This entry was the studio's high water mark, for sure.With a cast of Hammer-heads that included Barry(Dracula Has Risen From the Grave)Andrews,Linda(Taste the Blood of Dracula,Madhouse)Hayden,and the last film appearance of Patrick (Witchfinder General)Wymark,lush British exteriors,atmospheric creepiness,a slight bit of the red stuff mixed in with a few naughty bits,and a nifty release title(in America it was known as "Satan's Skin"),it can't be all bad,right?Well it isn't as bad as all that,afterall.A Region 2 DVD with a coven's worth of special features exists,so possess it if it sounds like your cup o' tea!It's an original premise for ground that was being tread by a lot of films at the time,and it has just enough bite to occupy an hour and a half of your Wednesday evening,like a lot of lesser Hammer films,really!A shout out to West Chicago tonight as well,for still producing Otter Pops,which I've been squeezing into my yap for what seems like days now.This one goes out to Sir Isaac Lime,Little Orphan Orange,and Alexander the Grape...
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"Tito! Janet! Brush this dirt off of me and point me at that neighborhood full of children!".
In rural England sometime during the 17th century, Ralph (Barry Andrews) discovers the half-decomposed remains of a "fiend".I noticed some papier mache,an eyeball,and a few worms.Eh,I guess that qualifies in some circles.Ralph fetches the visiting Judge(Patrick Wymark)to bear witness to his grotesque discovery which is already double live gonzos when they get there.The young master of the manor brings his bride-to-be to the house,where she's attacked by a shaggy claw from under the floorboards in the middle of the night,which effectively drives the bitch pazzo.As the nice young Bedlam orderlies escort the looney lass off to the squirrel farm,her fiance notices that her hand has somehow transformed into a claw.Already on the edge,he decides to spend the night in the attic where the events transpired the night before.While monkeying with the loose floorboards he's grabbed by that same offending hairy mitt,breaking free of the demonic grasp long enough to push a trunk over the problem area.Instead of bailing the fuck out like D.B. Cooper,he goes back to sleep,only to be awakened in the middle of the night by the problematic shaggy dagger-like digits clawing at his throat.He reaches for his trusty dagger on the nightstand nearby(I keep mine there,too),and stabs at the monstrous mitt,waking the Judge who bursts in to find that the young man has sawed off his own right hand.Spooooky.
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In the spirit of diversity,17th century England could use a Korean manicurist.
A group of the local young people led by teen Angel Blake (Linda Hayden),no doubt because of her sinister crepe wool eyebrows of evil, are serving up Satanic shennanigans in the forest,reviving a coven of cataclysmal creeps bent on bringing back the beastie that Ralph dug up.Townspeople become afflicted with "The Devil's Skin",which entails a patch of crepe wool(over a sizable piece of mortician's wax in some more extreme cases)on the body part they will eventually remove themselves,causing said part to grow back(!)on the piecemeal titular evildoer.All sorts of evildoings,rapes,murders,and even temptation of the local priest cause Peter,the one-handed rascal,to ride off to London and fetch the Judge,who previously slagged off the wanton witchcraft.At this point,Ralph discovers that one of his legs is going all hairy,and Angel remarks that the hell-beast is complete,save for...yeah, a leg.At the ruins of an old church,the coven partakes in a groovy ritual,mesmerizing Ralph with a bobbler-heavy young girl until he's compelled to cut off his hairy leg for Satan(I've seen a lot of exotic dancers in my heyday,most of which could only compel me to give 'em a buck or two,so this girl is good,goddamn!),who's in attendance,hopping around in a hood(!!).At this optimum moment,the Judge jumps out in dynamic slow motion,clutching his two handed,Satan-slaying five foot long broadsword,killing the venemous vixen and impaling the one-legged demon,pole vaulting it into their ritual bonfire,which seems to have done the trick for good,God-fearing heathens once and for all.You'd think maybe it might take a bit more to dispatch the King of Hell than that,but hey,I didn't write the screenplay.
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When he's not busy damning souls for all eternity,Satan also heads the Itty Bitty Tittie Committee.
I'd have posted a screenshot of the "devil" who makes his appearance at the end of this one,but you'd only be disappointed.There's the obligatory hood,some fur,and papier mache that somewhat resembles what Mummenschantz used to do back in the 1970s.The effects are a bummer,even for England,never a nation known for its special effects by any means.Despite these obvious budgetary shortcomings,you might wanna check this one out,and you might even enjoy it for its strong points.Next up here at Castle Wop,it's our first weekly Cartoon Tuesday,and we'll be examining appropriately twisted animation to commemorate.As for Tigon's effort,to avoid any unnecessary hairy patches springing up on your humble narrator,he'll graciously give the devil his due,a Wopsploitation rating of:
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Mrs. Brown's daughter makes a loverly sacrifice to the dark lord and master,thinks Herman and his Hermits.
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