Top positive review
78 people found this helpful
Another Tigon masterpiece
on 15 August 2005
**** few slight spoilers ****
BOSC, emerged from the legendary Tigon stable shortly after the brilliant Witchfinder General which, in many aspects, it resembles and to which it can be justifiably regarded as a companion piece. Similarly set in 17th century England, BOSC also explores rural pagan beliefs and practices. Here though, the roles are most definitely reversed. Whilst Matthew Hopkins was a monster and the alleged witches he persecuted largely innocent, in BOSC, the judge/witchfinder, superbly played by Patrick Wymark (Cromwell in Witchfinder General) in his final performance, is very much the hero. At first sceptical that the black arts retain any power, Wymark comes to accept the reality of evil made incarnate and meets it head on in the stunning climax (watch out for the inspired freeze-frame effect that has been often imitated but never bettered). The ambiguity, up until to the final sequence, as to whether the fiend really exists or is merely mass hysteria, is cleverly developed and reinforced by scenes such as only Peter alone witnessing the horrific transformation of his fiancée and, of course, the famous 'hand' sequence.
Admittedly, in places, the story feels slightly fragmentary (the commentary option explains how the screenplay developed from three separate stories), the overall effect, though, is utterly compelling and, perhaps strangely given the grim subject matter, utterly beautiful. The camerawork, courtesy of the splendidly named Dick Bush, is the stuff of genius. Look out for unusual and inventive camera angles and several extended scenes, obviously completed in one masterful shot.
I have already mentioned the magnificent presence of Wymark, but the remaining cast also deserves huge praise for powerful and convincing depictions of the dark ages mindset. This is no hammy Hammer horror, folks, this is the real thing! Anthony Ainley (perhaps better known as the successor to Roger Delgado to play the Master in Doctor Who) is marvellous as the reverend/teacher, Peter Edmonson (Simon Williams) whose fiancée is the first to succumb to the evil, is impressively stoic, Ralph the ploughboy (Barry Andrews) is a great salt-of-the-earth character, and the British movie fan will spot a host of other well-known faces (disappointingly not listed in the credits) who all act their hearts out. The star though, without a doubt, is the beautiful Linda Hayden, who plays the deliciously evil villainness Angel Blake, with an astonishing presence belying her tender age. Some of the scenes featuring 17 year-old Hayden (the attempted seduction of the reverend and Hayden's overseeing of a truly disturbing rape sequence) are unsettling even by today's standards.
The marvellous score has a quintessentially evocative English feel to it - almost like a dark brooding twist on Greensleeves and adds enormously to the atmosphere.
The DVD has exceptionally clear picture quality and colour and the remastered 5.1/DTS sound is everything that you would expect. Loads of genuinely interesting extras - the full length commentary and the 'Angel for Satan' featurette being particularly fascinating.
An essential purchase.