Welcome to Freaky Friday, where we’re mining the deepest caverns of paperback horror fiction then dragging what we find to the surface, where it screams and cries tears of blood, begging to be returned to the darkness.
Before British Folk Horror blossomed up out of obscurity again with Michael Reeves’s 1968 Witchfinder General—starring Vincent Price as that deeply unpleasant detector and burner of witches, Matthew Hopkins—there was Satan’s Child. Written in 1968 by Peter Saxon, it kicks off with a suspected witch, Elspet Malcolm, being burned at the stake in a Scottish village sometime back in the early 18th century. Her two children are understandably alarmed and decide it’s unwise to stick around. After almost decapitating their stepfather with a pike, young Iain, her son, and Morag, her daughter, head for the hills. Morag gets sold into service but Iain heads for Tibet (maybe? could also be any vague Eastern locale with occult monks?) and learns to be an actual witch, which his mother wasn’t, then he comes back to the village of Kimskerchan and kills everyone who sent her to the stake. This is what’s known as irony.
Death Wish meets The Witchfinder General—this is cheapjack, lo-fi, grotty potboiler pulp entertainment from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. After all, the national food of Scotland is sheep guts stuffed inside stomach lining with a bunch of oatmeal, and yet that low class cuisine hasn’t stopped Scotland from producing Sean Connery.