Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Return of the Wicker Man

Someone once asked why I thought The Wicker Man was so chilling. They seemed perplexed.

It can be hard to convey the deep chill of a psychological terror film to those who watch it passively without deeper contemplation of the story implications.

I think the chill comes in part because of the "it could really happen" feel. It's not ghosts but humans at the heart of the story, but it's also that disturbing notion that there are moments and places where the rules of contemporary society don't seem to apply.

It happens in brutal terms in Deliverance as city men inadvertently tread on the territory of grim others who don't appreciate their presence.

And it happens to Edward Woodward's Sgt. Howie in subtle then increasingly barbarous terms as he prowls an island in the Hebrides where strange practices seem to be in place. The old ways.

He grows increasingly nervous that a missing girl may be the subject of a sacrifice, but there's even more horror planned for the pious policeman.

I read first of the tale in an issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine because it is a tale of mystery and detection as well as horror.

It took a long time to finally get to see it since it didn't play in many theaters. I finally got to watch via satellite some time in the '80s, though it's made the cable rounds and can be had on DVD.

It's interesting to learn that lost footage is being restored and that the true director's cut will be making the theatrical rounds again soon.

I read about it probably in 1979. It's been a long wait. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I watched part of the Wicker Man a couple of months ago but probably wasn't in the right frame of mind for it. My wife had seen it before and told me how creepy it was.

Erik Donald France said...

I totally love this film and agree, oh yes, why scary.

Some (apparently bad) remake was made, but I'll hold out for extra footage from the original.

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