The holy grail of horror films has recently been re-released to coincide with its 40th Anniversary, and with Hallowe’en upon us, it provides the perfect setting to revisit this cult classic.
Directed by Robin Hardy and penned by Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth), ‘The Wicker Man’, welcomes you with glorious shots over the Hebrides and then with Police Sgt. Neil Howie, played by the brilliant Edward Woodward.
Howie has arrived on the fictional island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of Rowan Morrison, a missing girl that the locals claim never existed, after receiving an anonymous letter.
A devout and celibate Christian, Sgt. Howie grows increasingly appalled by the pagan religious practices that the island’s inhabitants enact before him.
As his search continues, he uncovers secrets that the islanders and their charismatic leader, Lord Summerisle (played by the immaculate Christopher Lee), would rather leave untouched.
Although it is starting to show its age, and you may well laugh at the 70s softcore eroticism, the film is still as troubling and unmissable as it ever was.
The film’s soundtrack, composed and arranged by Paul Giovanni, contains many haunting folk songs that are as much a part of the narrative as anything else. From Howie’s arrival on the island to the chilling finale, there is always a sinister musical accompaniment that instantly prompts shivers.
Eerie and disconcerting, The Wicker Man, is easily one of the best horror films ever made. And Lee claims it to be the finest he appeared in (which is no mean feat from a man that has appeared in over 275 films).
From Lee’s mesmerising ringleader dressed in drag, to that enchanting and seductive bum-wiggle from Britt Ekland, and lastly to the genuinely horrific final sequence, there is no better example of British folk horror at its finest.