Or THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, as is the on-screen title.

A rural 17th Century English village has it's uneventful daily routine rudely disturbed when local farm hand Ralph (Barry Andrews - doing a fine impression of a young Roger Daltrey) discovers the remains of a furry 'fiend' amongst his freshly ploughed soil.

He tells a passing judge (Patrick Wymark: WITCHFINDER GENERAL; REPULSION ... he died of a heart attack shortly after the film's release) of his find, but the judge is understandably dubious when he visits the field only to find the remains have disappeared.

Meanwhile, aristocrat Peter (Simon Williams) returns to the village with a young girl he intends to marry - much to his aunt's disapproval. The aunt runs an inn and has let a room to the judge overnight. She reluctantly gives her nephew's fiancι the attic as an overnight refuge. During the night, however, events take place that leave a lasting impression on Peter and suggest to the judge that perhaps witchcraft is at play …

Cut to the local church where the father (Anthony Ainley) teaches the village kids at Sunday school. Angel Blake (the very sexy Linda Hayden: EXPOSE; TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA) turns up one Sunday afternoon with a bag containing a mysterious claw that causes much amusement amongst the other kids.

The judge retires to London but vows to return once he has read up on witchcraft. Bizarre instances plague the village folk (murders; children going missing; people developing furry, devilish growths). It would appear Ralph's finding may be Satanic, and the contents of Angel's bag may have a detrimental effect on the town's youngsters.

Ralph attempts to play hero of the hour, while Peter rushes to London to tell the judge of the madness that is unfolding back home … and Angel involves herself in all manner of wickedness.

Hayden revels in her role as a young devilish Lolita type, and her obvious enthusiasm for the role rubs off on the viewer. Having said that, the cast is uniformly strong: it's unfair to single Hayden out - even though she is arguably the best thing about the picture!

With original working titles including THE DEVIL'S TOUCH and SATAN'S SKIN, it's fairly obvious that this is all leading to a coming of Satan. But watch it anyway - it's a novel exercise in early 70s British horror.

Old-fashioned when compared to the likes of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), BOSC does however offer a couple of powerful sequences (the rape; the disturbingly casual lead into said rape) but will disappoint many modern genre fans with it's lack of overt gore or genuine threat.

The best summation I can think of, on a personal level, is that I found it to be more sensational than WITCHFINDER GENERAL but not quite as entertaining as MARK OF THE DEVIL. Somewhere in-between, perhaps …

It is, however, well-shot (the outdoor scenes are gorgeous) and well-acted throughout. And, hey, any film that has Michele Dotrice (later to become Betty - wife of Frank Spencer- in BBC's SOME MOTHERS DO 'AVE 'EM) getting off on rape, then being accused of witchery, has to be worth seeing!!

Anchor Bay UK's disc is very impressive. It's clear as soon as you pop the thing in your machine that considerable care has been taken here - check out the beautifully animated menu pages, complete with the strains of Mark Wilkinson's score as accompaniment!

The picture quality of the film is generally fantastic. OK, some quarters have bemoaned the fact that the film is not presented anamorphically. But the 1.85:1 transfer is incredibly sharp and detailed - minor specks here and there cannot spoil the overall consensus that BOSC looks sensational. Even when using the ZOOM function on a widescreen TV, it looks terrific.

Audio-wise, you are offered 5.1 EX and DTS remixes, but I found the original mono soundtrack (also an option) far more satisfying. Call me a purist maybe, but the remixes tended to sound rather contrived and poorly balanced.

The extras on the disc are magnificent.

Who would've expected a commentary track? Or one that includes the writer (Robert Wynne-Simmons), the director (Piers Haggard), the star (Linda Hayden) and moderator John Sothcott?! The writer and director dominate much of the conversation, but Hayden is often encouraged back into proceedings by Sothcott. It's a really interesting listen, with plenty of anecdotes and information - plus some interesting comments on Wymark's habits! Later into proceedings though (most notably during Mark's funeral) there are huge gaps in the commentary.

LINDA HAYDEN - AN ANGEL FOR SATAN is a 12 minute featurette which basically offers an onscreen interview with the female star, who looks amazing considering this film was shot 34 years ago! She talks of her big break in BABY LOVE, her ongoing rapport with horror fans, her regret for ever getting involved with EXPOSE (a'la THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL) and, of course, her fondness for BOSC. Which she rates above TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA …

There are two trailers … both originating from the US. The first is an unrated trailer that's 3 minutes long. Very sensational! The second is an abridged version of it's predecessor, and advertising a theatrical double bill that including BOSC and the inferior THE BEAST IN THE CELLAR.

A stills gallery offers 20 images - original pre-cert UK video cover, some press release guff and so on.

There's 24 pages worth of film notes (the filmmakers originally considered Christopher Lee for the part of the judge, but he was too expensive … that type of thing) by Jonathan Sothcott that are interesting in their own right - but unfortunately a lot of the information here is replicated on the commentary/liner notes by Wayne Hazell.

Sothcott also offers biographies on Hayden and Haggard - 14 pages and 13 pages respectively.

Finally, for users with access to a DVD-ROM drive on their PC, you can always check out Wynne-Simmons' original stories in pdf format …

Check out the double-sided cover too. If you're in any doubt as to how customer-friendly Anchor Bay Entertainment UK is … don't be. You asked for a 2 disc SANTA SANGRE? You got it! You moaned about the packaging of the Amicus boxset? They addressed it! You didn't like the new cover artwork ABEUK had planned for this release? Fine … they've backed it with a reproduction of the original UK theatrical poster artwork! Very nice it is too!!

Fully uncut for the first time in the UK, it's nice to see this long-forgotten gem finally arrive on DVD. Thank God ABEUK got the rights - as a result we have a largely pristine transfer (MGM may obtain an anamorphic transfer for their forthcoming R1 release, but don't hold your breath), incredible extras and decent packaging to boot. All for the high-street RRP of £12.99!!!

Very nice.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Anchor Bay UK
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras : see main review