Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Wicker Man (1973) 70's Marathon 13#


Directed by Robert Hardy
86/87 minutes (Theatrical Cut)
Horror, Cult Film
Britain/UK
IMDB INFO

1st Viewing- the Theatrical Cut (Original Cut)
I have seen many horror films, cult films and downright weird stuff from Pink Flamingos to Hausu- but The Wicker Man seems to stand as a film like no other. The Wicker Man is truly a unique movie gives an eerie and chilling atmosphere that takes you on a hypnotic voyage into the remote Island where a pagan cult remains. I ensured to outline this was my first viewing and of the ‘original cut’. This site explains very well about the different versions of the film, which can be confusing as to choosing which to watch first. I will be watching the other versions of the film in due time.

I cannot believe I have left it so long to watch this film. I was in a trance as soon as the first song started as it caught me off-guard and it had some strange aura about it. I would not consider this film a full musical, but it incorporates these elements in an odd way- where the songs are in theme with the folklore and pagan cult.

Everyone talks about the performance of Christopher Lee, and for this version, I watched I think Edward Woodward’s performance towers over it. Lee in the original cut does not appear for about 30-35 minutes (but I have heard he appears sooner in other versions). Woodward as the righteous police officer, who wants nothing more than to see justice done was a terrific performance and now one of my favourite of the 1970’s. All the performances in the film where good, but Britt Ekland, despite the song I liked was lacking in personality.

The fascinating thing with the film is looking back at it today. Upon release, the film did not gain very much attention. It was entered at Cannes in the non-competition section in the 99-minute version, but later was to be part of a double feature along with another B-Movie after horror-veteran Roger Corman bought the film. This was also, why the film was shortened to what is known as the ‘theatrical cut’, which had a runtime of 87/86 minutes. This site has brilliant information on the different versions of the film. 


Scenes such as the ones where we see the village people wearing the masks are what make the film such an oddity. Oh, and seeing Christopher Lee basically cross-dressing. It is both funny, and disturbing in some way.

The behind-the-scenes featurette was also very interesting. As a whole, I really appreciate this as a horror film, and I found the climax to be horrifying even if at times it seemed a little over-the-top. Over more viewings, I think this is a that I will enjoy more with repeat viewings. It is the fact this film was made that makes every minute of it fascinating. If you like horror films, b-movies and/or cult movies, this is an essential film to see for its creepy folk atmosphere and peculiar tunes.


8.5/10 


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