Tigon Films

Mei Yau and I have recently become utterly fixated on the horror films produced by the British production company Tigon in the 1960s and ’70s. If you want my take on the appeal of Tigon in a nutshell, then imagine Hammer films drained of any vague residue of respectability and awash with a Swinging ’60s licentiousness that prevails regardless of subject matter or setting. By far the most impressive Tigon productions are the two films directed by the tragic visionary Michael Reeves, Witchfinder General and The Sorcerers. Needless to say, these are required viewing for any genre fan, but the company also produced many other films that are well worth seeking out. Here are a few of them in chronological order, with a brief outline of their pros and cons. I will hopefully add to this post as and when I manage to watch any other Tigon films.

The Blood Beast Terror (aka The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood)
(1968)

Pros: Peter Cushing in reliably solid and unflustered form; nice (if slightly half-arsed) Victorian period setting.

Cons: quite possibly the stupidest idea for a film ever (and this is coming from someone who has seen 1972’s Night Of The Lepus!

Curse Of The Crimson Altar (aka The Crimson Cult)
(1968)

Pros: apparently the film that inspired Broadcast and The Focus Group’s recent album; great miserable-old-git turn by Boris Karloff in his final performance.

Cons: fairly useless, “humorous” quip-spouting male lead; common Tigon problem of mid-scene switches from day to night.

The Haunted House Of Horror (aka Horror House)
(1969)

Pros: excellent music by library maestro Reg Tilsley and a disguised version of The Pretty Things (see here for further info).

Cons: stupid, stupid plot; unintentionally(?) creepy Charles Schmid-esque performance by faded former teen idol Frankie Avalon.

Blood On Satan’s Claw
(1971)

Pros: lovely rural locations and 17th century setting; great soundtrack later released on Trunk Records; the unspeakably gorgeous Linda Hayden.

Cons: fluffy devil-beast revealed at the film’s climax to bear a passing resemblance to TV’s ALF.

Virgin Witch
(1971)

Pros: copious nudity and occult ritual frugging; brilliantly of-its-time script (“She fancies birds!”).

Cons: some truly abysmal male cast members; general lack of menacing atmosphere.

N.B. this film was actually only distributed by Tigon, but it is part of Anchor Bay’s Tigon boxset, and certainly shares enough “qualities” with these other films to warrant its place on this list.

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