Wicker Man

Wicker Man

3.9 17
Director: Robin Hardy

Cast: Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento

     
 

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A righteous police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl comes into conflict with the unusual residents of a secluded Scottish isle in this unsettling, intelligent chiller. Brought to the island of Summerisle by an anonymous letter, Edward Woodward's constable is surprised to discover that the island's population suspiciously denies the missing

Overview

A righteous police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl comes into conflict with the unusual residents of a secluded Scottish isle in this unsettling, intelligent chiller. Brought to the island of Summerisle by an anonymous letter, Edward Woodward's constable is surprised to discover that the island's population suspiciously denies the missing girl's very existence. Even more shocking, at least to the traditionally pious law office, the island is ruled by a libertarian society organized around pagan rituals. Repelled by the open acceptance of sexuality, nature worship, and even witchcraft, the officer takes an antagonistic attitude towards the people and their leader, an eccentric but charming English lord (Christopher Lee). The officer's unease intensifies as he continues his investigation, slowly coming to fear that the girl's disappearance may be linked in a particularly horrifying manner to an upcoming public festival. Anthony Shaffer's meticulously crafted screenplay creates a thoroughly convincing alternative society, building tension through slow discovery and indirect suggestion and making the terrifying climax all the more effective. Performances are also perfectly tuned, with Woodward suitably priggish as the investigator and horror icon Lee delivering one of his most accomplished performances as Lord Summerisle. Little noticed during its original theatrical run due to studio edits and a limited release, the film's intelligence and uncanny tone has since attracted a devoted cult following.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
A subtle, intelligent British thriller that has attained cult status over the years, director Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man is more creepy than terrifying, doling out its frights with a spare but expert hand. It benefits from a superb performance by Edward Woodward as a repressed, devoutly Christian police detective who arrives on an idyllic Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl. The inspector is immediately rattled by the friendly but duplicitous islanders, who engage in casual nudity and wanton sex under the free-spirited rule of the foppish and eccentric Lord Summerisle (memorably played by Hammer horror icon Christopher Lee). When Woodward discovers that the natives are pagans, his disapproval turns to fear and outrage as he begins to suspect that the missing girl might have been used as a human sacrifice. Eschewing the usual horror film conventions, almost all of The Wicker Man takes place outdoors under sunny spring skies as the islanders prepare for their May Day celebrations. Hardy imbues the bucolic goings-on -- folk song sing-alongs, a maypole dance performed by children -- with an ever-increasing sense of menace. The deeper terror is psychological, though, as Woodward’s inspector is confronted with a heathenism against which his faith provides no bulwark. We feel the inspector’s anguish as he struggles to subdue his physical desire when the innkeeper’s luscious daughter (Britt Ekland) tries to tempt him by dancing naked outside his room. It is Woodward’s magnificent portrayal of this self-righteous but well-meaning man that makes The Wicker Man’s dark and unexpected ending truly devastating. Hacked down to 87 minutes for its initial release, the film was a theatrical failure. The DVD presents the film, fully restored from original vault materials, in its original 102-minute version.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
The Wicker Man was a labor of love for director Robin Hardy, screenwriter Anthony Shaffer, and producer and co-star Christopher Lee; eager to see the project to fruition, they worked with a low budget, a short shooting schedule, and a studio on the verge of bankruptcy (that did in fact go under shortly after the film was completed). The movie was trundled into theaters in truncated form as a B-grade horror flick, cutting the 102-minute original version to 87 minutes for most theatrical screenings. This treatment must have been heartbreaking for the creative team, since The Wicker Man scarcely qualifies as a horror film (and was marketed as one purely due to Lee's involvement), and it remains one of the most unusual, thoughtful, and intelligent suspense thrillers of the 1970s. Edward Woodward, a dozen years before he rose to fame in America as the star of the TV series The Equalizer, is superb as Sgt. Howie, and Lee, who never made a secret of his desire for more intelligent and substantive roles after achieving international renown in Hammer's Dracula series, gives one of his finest performances as Lord Summerisle; with regal intelligence and sharp wit, his presence is so strong that one forgets that he's not on screen very long. Shaffer's screenplay boasts the same psychological intrigue and intelligent wit that he brought to his earlier scripts for Frenzy and Sleuth (both 1972). While repeated viewings allow one to see the clues dropped along the way, the audacious conclusion rarely fails to startle and surprise. While The Wicker Man is an absorbing entertainment even in its edited form, it's much better (and feels no longer) in its full-length cut -- which, thankfully, is available on home video, allowing renters to see the film at better advantage than the tiny number who caught it in its aborted initial release.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/06/2009
UPC:
0031398103615
Original Release:
1973
Rating:
R
Source:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:28:00
Sales rank:
10,735

Special Features

Closed Caption; "The Wicker Man Enigma" featurette; Theatrical trailer; TV spot; Radio spots; Talent bios

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Edward Woodward Sergeant Howie
Britt Ekland Willow
Diane Cilento Miss Rose
Ingrid Pitt Librarian
Christopher Lee Lord Summerisle
Roy Boyd Broome
Aubrey Morris Old Gardener,Gravedigger
Irene Sunters May Morrison
Walter Carr Schoolmaster
Irene Summers May Morrison
Lorraine Peters Girl on grave
Richard Wren Ash Buchanan
Elizabeth Sinclair Villager on Summerisle
John Sharp Doctor Ewan
Ian Wilson Communicant
Russell Waters Harbour Master
John Young Fishmonger
Ian Campbell Oak
Ross Campbell Communicant
Michael Cole Musician
Juliet Cadzow Villager on Summerisle
Peter Brewis Musician
Lesley Mackie Daisy
Charles Kearney Butcher
Lindsay Kemp Alder MacGregor
Kevin Collins Old Fisherman
Geraldine Cowper Rowan Morrison
John Hallam Police Constable McTaggart
Donald Eccles T.H. Lennox
Myra Forsyth Mrs. Grimmond

Technical Credits
Robin Hardy Director
Eric Boyd-Perkins Editor
James Devis Camera Operator
Seamus Flannery Art Director
Paul Giovanni Score Composer
Stewart Hopps Choreography
Ted Morley Production Manager
W.T. Partleton Makeup
Anthony Shaffer Screenwriter
Peter Snell Producer
Harry Waxman Cinematographer
Jake Wright Asst. Director
Sue Yelland Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Wicker Man
1. Program Start / Main Titles [3:16]
2. Arrival [4:18]
3. May Morrison's Daughter [2:53]
4. The Inn [3:22]
5. Service With a Smile [2:49]
6. A Prayer For the Righteous [1:39]
7. Siren's Song [3:57]
8. Round the Maypole [2:40]
9. Primary Education [6:40]
10. Blasphemy [2:20]
11. Asserting Authority [3:43]
12. Rites of Fertility [1:37]
13. Lord Summerisle [6:36]
14. Exhumation [4:04]
15. Proof [1:32]
16. Disturbing Research [2:17]
17. Engine Trouble [2:10]
18. May Day Preparations [3:18]
19. The Search [3:40]
20. Hand of Glory [1:51]
21. Let the Festivities Begin [2:36]
22. "Chop, Chop, Chop..." [2:28]
23. Innocent Victim [5:29]
24. King For a Day [4:55]
25. The Wicker Man [6:04]
26. End Credits [1:03]

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Wicker Man 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Wickerman is one of the few horror movies that I can return to on repeated viewings and still get something new from it. The air of unreality that flows throughout it, with woodward's character the only one that seems 'substantial' and yet is cut adrift in Summerisle's pagan community, makes it a true one-off. What struck me from a recent viewing of the film was the amount of music in it, the majority of which is absolutely integral to the narrative drive. The sense of impending violence and death builds throughout the film, and a close watching of it reveals a shift from birth and fertility to mortality, brought to a climax with the sacrifice of PC Howie. Christopher Lee turns in a sterling performance, and he claims that is his favourite of the films he has made over the past 50 years, which is no small recommendation. Personally, I prefer the extended version to the original, despite its technical deficencies, mainly because it shifts the emphasis of the film and eloborates of themes lost in the 70s version, which was brutally hacked by the studio. The Wickerman is one of the truly classics of British cinema and deserves more than cult status.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had first became aware of Wicker Man through a website on paganism that reviews movies that contained themes on witchcraft, paganism, and the occult, and of all the movies, this received the highest ratings. I checked elsewhere on the web to see what others thought, and almost all of them said great stuff about this, so I had to get me a copy and I was not one bit disappointed. The movie stars Sgt. Howie, a Christian fanatic (of the type I'm sure the Christian Coalition would like if this was present day America rather than 1970s Scotland), played by Edward Woodward, later of TV's The Equilizer, who flies to Summerisle, which is in Scotland to investigate the case of a missing girl (Rowan Morrison). But no one on the island knows anything about the girl, but as it turns out that Sgt. Howie was to be used as a sacrificial victim of the wicker man, and that Rowan Morrison was just used as a lure. There's a lot of great things I like of this movie. It shows a very accurate portrayal of the Pagan lifestyle, the Maypole dance, various fire and fertility rites, the only exception was sacrificing livestock and people in the wicker man. The music is folk, some of it traditional folk songs (like ''Corn Rigs'') and some original compositions (like the song Willow sang to seduce Howie). This movie, although accurate in many ways of the Pagan life, still doesn't put Paganism in a positive light, but I'm happy they didn't put Christianity in a positive light either. I'm a bit hesitant to call this a horror movie, as you won't find blood and gore here, no knife wielding maniacs, no blood sucking zombies, this movie is more of a thriller, just the feeling you get when Sgt. Howie is to make an appointment to the wicker man. So if you want a different kind of movie that isn't the same old sensationalize Hollywood stuff like the Blair Witch Project, or The Craft, give Wicker Man a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
this film is classic for me and i am curently in the middle of studying it as part of my coursework, this has alowed me to learn more about the history and the making of this film. it is not one of those run in the mill films that is written, shot and then sent of to cinemas, there is proper thought and struggle to make the film what it is today. every camra angle and close up and speech is deliberate and contributes in portarying a certain point of view. the film is not a standard horror movie which is what makes it more special, it manages to create apprehension and tension without any of the familar tricks and that is medal worthy. however it was made in 1973 and the picture quality is pretty shody. thats all the bad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Damn, that was classic. I heard much about Wicker Man and finally got a copy 2 months ago. Even though people call this the citizen kane of horror films, it isn't really. It's sort of a mystery for half the movie when Howie finally discovers the horrors of Mae Day. The movie then reveals the horror of it in the last 5 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I love this film but I thought it could have been longer and it could have had a little horror into the mystery. Other than that, this is a great movie and I think any horror fan will love it. The climax is one of the best scenes I've scene yet. So damn eerie.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
The quaint, sleepy village of Summerisle hides a disturbing, resurrected belief system referred to two millennia ago by Julius Caesar, but PC Howie, the mainland constable, knows nothing of this. All he knows is that a young girl is missing and it's his job to find out why. Rather than helping him in his quest, the villagers seem uniquely undisturbed, and instead look forward to their May Day festival. The more he searches, the more he notices objects of paganism being used as one would use those of Christianity today, something his strict Calvinist background abhors, and which lead him further and further into the dark recesses of a faith that gives no ground and into the never-explored depths of his own mind, while the score, at once that of fairy tales and raw sexuality, invades his once-sure sense of self. A must-see for those willing to explore the dark side of humanity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one crazy movie that makes you feel like you are actually the main character. You get the feeling that you are trapped in a different culture where the line between right and wrong is seriously blurred. This is a cult horror flick for sure. The copy I have says this movie is not rated. I guess 30-years ago when it came out you would give it an ''R'' but by today's standards its not even that. Blood, gore and nudity are at a minimum but this is one horror flick that gets the brain involved. No, you don't want to meet ''The Wicker Man'' and it takes you almost 99-minutes to figure out just who that is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Made in 1973, this meticulous spiral into weirdness shares elements with Kubrick's The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. But it's also a goooofy '70s movie with inappropriate nudity and hippy music mixed with the appropriate kinds. Technicaly, the editing and photography are poor, leaving only the subject matter to prop it up. The project was made as an anti-horror movie, meaning it was shot mostly in daylight and without much startling suspense, like The Shining seven years later. Woodward plays a clownish prude, which wears thin -- especially in the extended version -- but successfully detaches the viewer from his final scene. The similarities to Eyes Wide Shut are a man slowly discovering an alternative society with a heavy sex influence and masked partiers acting bizarre. Makes me think Kubrick held this technically poor movie in some regard. I wouldn't suggest the extended, more expensive version. Some scenes are interestingly reshuffled. But it's all in mono sound and the added scenes are from telecine, so you won't watch it more than once and never with a group of friends--which is how I recommend viewing this film. It's kind of like a version for people who want to prove they love this movie so much, they'll buy a worse formulation of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like movies that make you think then you're on the right track with this one. However, do be prepared for the unusual. The Wicker Man appears completely as a B movie, and has a few long drawn out scenes that could bore the typical action fan. However, I did enjoy it, after I watched it a few times, and learned to laugh at the purposely off scenes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this movie as all the critics and hype said it was a ''great thriller''. More of a dud to be accurate. It was hard to keep from laughing at so many foolish parts.I can honestly say, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. Watch just about anything before this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was the WORST movie ever! i saw it with my friend in the theaters and we both hated it! the whole theater was laughing and i was too. i thought the previews made it look really good and scary, it wasnt. i was very very dissappointed with this. not even rental wuality!
Bryan_Cassiday_author More than 1 year ago
Not a supernatural horror movie by any means, "The Wicker Man" is instead a creepy, eldritch crime thriller about a priggish Scottish policeman's attempt to rescue a missing girl from an island run by paganists. This morally hidebound cop can't believe what he comes up against when he meets a smirking Christopher Lee sporting a ridiculous fright wig and his grinning pagan followers. A staunch believer in Christ, a righteous man, the cop can't believe he can be destroyed by a gang of giggling pagans of all people.

Always smiling and reveling, the giddy pagans also enjoy dancing in the nude, but their frivolity masks a deeply sinister streak, a streak dripping with menace. These rejects from the sixties' hippie movement turn out to be nine parts Manson family members and only one part flower children.

The final scene with the wicker man near the beach at sunset is as shocking and weird as all get-out as well as a visual humdinger.

--Bryan Cassiday, author of "Fete of Death"