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"The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Old 09-22-15, 10:32 PM
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"The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3





The Wicker Man (1973)



Selected by Chad



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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.
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2015 DISCUSSION | 2015 LISTS


Last edited by Chad; 10-01-15 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 10-03-15, 08:29 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I love how mocking and sarcastic the residents are from the start; it's ironic and surreal.

The climax with cheerful singing surrounding dreadful sacrifice is similarly ironic and ups the suspense.

I can't tell if portraying christianity as foolishness is a lark to "horrify" or genuine criticism.

I'm curious about The Wicker Tree but it doesn't seem readily streaming anyway and gets bad reviews.

Despite the burning and some nudity Wicker Man doesn't seem graphic enough to warrant a R rating, I think I've seen worse in more moderately rated films.
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Old 10-03-15, 12:48 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
I'm curious about The Wicker Tree but it doesn't seem readily streaming anyway and gets bad reviews.
I thought it was embarrassingly awful. Christopher Lee is literally on screen for about a minute (which, considering how bad this was, is probably a blessing). Unless you really want to see British actress Honeysuckle Weeks naked, I wouldn't recommend this. Though ... I heard the same negative reviews and it made me curious to see if it really was that bad. Turns out the reviews were right.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
Despite the burning and some nudity Wicker Man doesn't seem graphic enough to warrant a R rating, I think I've seen worse in more moderately rated films.
Surely all the nudity and sexual themes make this an easy R, don't they? What PG-13 movie had anything like Britt Eklund's naked writhing? The unrated version is even more graphic.
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Old 10-03-15, 01:00 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Don't expect a great movie, or even a good movie, but The Wicker Tree is watchable from the perspective of modern horror. Consider it more of a standalone movie than related to one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

Christopher Lee makes The Wicker Man. His presence adds a gravitas to the movie that elevates it beyond a memorable B-movie.
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Old 10-03-15, 01:51 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
Don't expect a great movie, or even a good movie, but The Wicker Tree is watchable from the perspective of modern horror. Consider it more of a standalone movie than related to one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

The Wicker Tree is a bad movie, but Henry Garrett's bare butt in the bathing scene makes it worth a watch.

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
Christopher Lee makes The Wicker Man. His presence adds a gravitas to the movie that elevates it beyond a memorable B-movie.
Agreed, and I'd add that Edward Woodward's performance as the devout Christian copper matches Lee's. Paul Giovanni's songs also add to the film's pagan atmosphere. I watched the extended version form the Anchor Bay wooden box I bought many years ago. It adds scenes to show Sgt. Howie as a cold, prudish jerk so the film takes us on more of a journey to feel sympathy for Howie when he goes to his martyr's death.

The screenplay is by Anthony Shaffer, who also wrote Sleuth and Frenzy. Shaffer based his screenplay on David Pinner's Ritual, a novel dealing with the pagan secrets behind the mysterious death of a young girl in a Cornish village. In addition, Shaffer drew inspiration from James Frazer's The Golden Bough, his monumental compendium of pre-Christian rituals and pagan worship in Europe.

I recommend reading Allan Brown's book about the film's making and its life after release, Inside the Wicker Man. He talks about how much Shaffer and director Robin Hardy detested one another, and how British Lion tried to kill the film because they were horrified at its content.

Last edited by Gobear; 10-03-15 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 10-03-15, 02:10 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Just finished this. I think it's been 10 years since the last time I watched it. Great movie. The only drawback is that it has that early-70's vibe that makes it feel so dated. I kinda wish it had that timeless feeling that many British horror movies have.

It's funny how you look at things differently when you haven't seen a movie in a long time. I don't remember Edward Woodward's character being such an asshole. In the past I had much more sympathy for him, but this time I was looking forward to the bonfire.

Last edited by TheBigDave; 10-03-15 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 10-03-15, 07:31 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

It's been awhile since I've seen The Wicker Man, but for some reason I must e mixing this up with another movie possibly Population 436 or the remake of this film with Nicholas Cage. This isStill a very enjoyable film unlike its remake
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Old 10-03-15, 07:51 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
Despite the burning and some nudity Wicker Man doesn't seem graphic enough to warrant a R rating, I think I've seen worse in more moderately rated films.
You need to consider that PG-13 wasn't introduced until 11 years after Wicker Man came out. This meant the next step down from R was PG.

I watched this for the first time years ago and after watching it today, I forgot all about the singing. I also felt it didn't have the impact it did on the first viewing but I think that's a given.

I thought it was a good pick for me to be the subset film. I have a ton of Christopher Lee movies but this one was unopened. Double win.
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Old 10-03-15, 08:41 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I've seen this one several times and own it on DVD and Blu ray (the latter looks fantastic by the way) and it's always a film I enjoy revisiting. So much to enjoy: Christopher Lee who gives a great performance not just acting but singing, Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt who both get naked and the beautiful scenery of "Summerisle" (Scotland) are just added bonuses.
The story of Christian vs Pagan seems a bit of a non-issue nowadays where almost everyone will side with the pagans so the Policeman's sacrifice and his steadfast belief to the very end hold less of an impact to modern audiences.
All in all a great film, it's a shame that director Robin Hardy went on to do... well, nothing after The Wicker Man.
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Old 10-03-15, 09:00 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by pagefrance View Post
almost everyone will side with the pagans
I wouldn't go that far. It's just less of an issue with more folks.

Our airport just got paid a bunch of money from a casino in the state to do some advertising. One of the things they're doing is painting the luggage return conveyor so it looks like a roulette wheel.

The local news station interviewed some people to get their thoughts. You know who the person was that finally did the "won't somebody think of the children" speech? Back when I was a kid, it was busybody mothers and religious idiots. The times have changed to where the person giving that speech was a dude in his younger twenties that looked stylish and wasn't some conservative looking prude at all. What is the world coming to?
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Old 10-04-15, 07:48 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Not sure if I liked this or not. I guess since I've heard so much hype over the years I was expecting something fantastic.

I blind-bought the Arrow Blu-ray Disc Steelbook for this watch, and the picture really did look pretty good. But the back mentioned a quote that this is "Britain's Greatest Horror." I guess I'll have to watch the special-features doc about how this garnered such a cult following. Needles to say, the Steelbook has great artwork.
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Old 10-04-15, 09:07 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I watched it a couple of years ago and gave it a 7 out of 10 rating. But that's due to it being somewhat interesting as a occult thriller. I found very little "horror" in the film and even with the rating I gave it don't get the overall appeal and praise lavished on the film. That said, I *do* need to watch it again as many films don't resonate on that first viewing, especially those where I go in expecting to find a "lost classic."
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Old 10-04-15, 09:30 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I bought the DVD a few years back with high expectations based on people's reviews. It didn't do much for me. I'd give it a 5 out of 10. Like Bob, I was probably expecting too much.
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Old 10-04-15, 12:59 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I watched this probably during my first challenge or so and got bored. Now rewatching it, I can find some value to it. Pagan vs Christianity is always interesting and will never die out (you can always replace Pagan with Evolutionist or something). And my goodness, the main blonde actress is a fox. The faith and power the police guy had, you probably won't see in a lot of Christian men today. The singing was amazing, but the only downfall is we had another musical the day before. But they played the policeman like a damn fool which was very interesting to see how they laid it all out. Lee did fantastic in this film.
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Old 10-04-15, 01:37 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

These occult thrillers from the 1970s work far better on religious audiences. This is a more powerful horror movie for Christian audiences than if you are completely secular.
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Old 10-04-15, 02:11 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

How do the different cuts compare to each other? I have only seen the extended cut on the wooden box edition of the DVD. I have the Blu-ray en route and intend to watch that for the challenge, but it's my understanding that the "Final Cut" found on the Blu-ray is actually shorter than the extended cut on the wooden box DVD. And then there's the original theatrical cut, which I haven't seen but obviously is different from the other two. Anyone have any opinions?
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Old 10-04-15, 02:15 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

The range of opinions on this movie were very interesting. For myself, I thought that Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland all did excellent, which adds up to an excellent film in my opinion. It was a great pick for the Christopher Lee subset.
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Old 10-04-15, 02:18 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I first saw this film eight years ago and revisited it several times since; it never gets old or tired. Christopher Lee is magnificent as the charismatic leader of the pagan cult, and you can see why people would follow him (even when he's wearing that turtleneck sweater that Leonard Nimoy would later sport in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers). I'm also a fan of Edward Woodward's Sergeant Howie, the crusty Christian. There's something fun about an unlikable protagonist; he's off-putting and judgmental, but just trying to do his job.

I grew up an evangelical Christian (the speaking-in-tongues type) and have since left the church. However, it's difficult to rid your mind of those ingrained beliefs so perhaps that's why this film works so well for me. I understand that more Christian audiences could be more effected, but doesn't this scare everyone? The horror comes from normal, everyday people convinced that their worldview is absolute - even if that means burning a man and animals alive. There's nothing supernatural or paranormal about it; it's a mundane horror that transcends the Christian/pagan trappings of the plot. It's about the extremes people will go to when they are scared and convinced they are right.
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Old 10-05-15, 08:28 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

It has been close to 10 years since I las saw this movie.. The performances were great from both Lee and Woodward. I completely forgot Woodward was in the TV series, The Equalizer, back in the day. This was a slow burn to the horrific end. My girlfriend and I debated putting on the Nic Cage version as a comparison, and we still may before the challenge is over. I have never seen anything good written about it, but I may do it.
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Old 10-05-15, 08:40 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I like that brief moment of doubt and fear shown by Christopher Lee when Edward Woodward proclaims that Lord Summerisle would be the next sacrifice should the crops fail again.

[Shaken] "They will not fail!"
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Old 10-05-15, 04:22 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by wishbone View Post
I like that brief moment of doubt and fear shown by Christopher Lee when Edward Woodward proclaims that Lord Summerisle would be the next sacrifice should the crops fail again.

[Shaken] "They will not fail!"
I like that moment too! At first, Lord Summerisle comes off as a pretender, someone using a belief system to control others but not buying into it. There's something a bit snide and knowing when he talks about paganism and the fervor with which the island's inhabitants embrace it. However, as it goes on, you realize that he also really believes the claptrap his family is peddling, yet that moment shows a bit of doubt and the ramifications of the fervor in which he's delighted.
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Old 10-06-15, 02:17 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by WillieMLF View Post
My girlfriend and I debated putting on the Nic Cage version as a comparison, and we still may before the challenge is over. I have never seen anything good written about it, but I may do it.
I liked it better than the Wicker Tree and did not find it as bad as many people say. With that being said I will say it is nowhere near as good as the original. I have saw far worser films than this remake (including other remakes).
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Old 10-06-15, 06:43 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by wishbone View Post
I like that brief moment of doubt and fear shown by Christopher Lee when Edward Woodward proclaims that Lord Summerisle would be the next sacrifice should the crops fail again.

[Shaken] "They will not fail!"
Originally Posted by mrcellophane View Post
I like that moment too! At first, Lord Summerisle comes off as a pretender, someone using a belief system to control others but not buying into it. There's something a bit snide and knowing when he talks about paganism and the fervor with which the island's inhabitants embrace it. However, as it goes on, you realize that he also really believes the claptrap his family is peddling, yet that moment shows a bit of doubt and the ramifications of the fervor in which he's delighted.
Yep, one of the best moments in this amazing film.

Didn't make the time to watch more than one cut of it, I'll have to explore it more one day. The wooden box version is the only one I own so far.
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Old 10-10-15, 09:29 PM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

I revisited this movie today and just simply adore this film. I came late to the game on it and saw it for the first time less than 10 years ago. I sat there thinking, "What the fuck did I just watch?" But I was entranced. And it gets better every time I see it. The exchanges between Lee and Woodward are priceless and the music is excellent.

This movie is truly a unique experience and there really is no other movie like it in my opinion. That being said, I still don't see why this is considered a horror movie.

Also, the remake and The Wicker Tree are both truly horrendous and I would stay far, far away from them.
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Old 10-15-15, 07:25 AM
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Re: "The Wicker Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 3

Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
I revisited this movie today and just simply adore this film. I came late to the game on it and saw it for the first time less than 10 years ago. I sat there thinking, "What the fuck did I just watch?" But I was entranced. And it gets better every time I see it. The exchanges between Lee and Woodward are priceless and the music is excellent.

This movie is truly a unique experience and there really is no other movie like it in my opinion.
Completely agree with all of that. While the concepts and actions they portray can be quite bizarre, the actors all sell it very well and give great performances.
That being said, I still don't see why this is considered a horror movie.
Interesting. Feel free to elaborate, I'm curious. This keeps coming up this month. I guess the term 'horror' is subjective enough to cause this range of opinion on so many films. I guess my definition of horror is very broad, but this film is so horror to me that I can't imagine anyone thinking otherwise.
Also, the remake and The Wicker Tree are both truly horrendous and I would stay far, far away from them.
I enjoyed the remake, but only because I knew going in to expect a trainwreck. It didn't disappoint.
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