For those of you who are not easily frightened by the traditional horror/thriller films rushing into the theaters every
Halloween, but would maybe prefer the effects of something more disturbing and less predictable, look no further than the original 1973 version of “The Wicker Man”.
What appears to be the investigation of a missing girl on the secluded Summer Isle turns out to be something much stranger. After modest and orthodox Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) receives an anonymous letter about the missing girl, he immediately flies himself up to the remote island to be met with unopened arms. His frustration grows as he receives various uncooperative answers from the people of Sumer Isle, who tell him that there is no missing girl, that the girl he is referring to is actually a hare or that she is buried in the graveyard.
It is a perplexing mystery as to why this community won’t help find the missing girl. As harmless as they may seem, what is even more difficult for the strictly Christian Sergeant Howie is the Pagan traditions this community follows, especially after struggling with desires for the beautiful Willow (Britt Ekland) who is also referred to as Aphrodite in the community. It is only in the end as May Day, the spring festival, approaches that Sergeant Howie begins to have a better understanding of what is really happening on this strange island.
Though the film’s story is odd and intriguing throughout, it is in the end that you are greeted with the truth of Summer Isle. A feeling of shock and fear will paralyze you.
The images throughout this film are beautiful, as it was filmed on location in the small Scottish towns Dumfries and Galloway. The landscapes chosen are relevant to meaningful moments in the film and enhance the story’s intensity. Another enhancement is the soundtrack: there are a slew of interesting and beautifully sung Celtic and Pagan songs that also add to the peculiarity of the story.
“The Wicker Man” is a classic film that should be on any movie lover’s shelf. After a series of missteps in its initial release, the film now has a strong a dedicated following – known as “Wickerheads” – and is often described as the Citizen Cane of horror films. This film will make you so uncomfortable you won’t know whether to laugh or to cry.