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4.1 out of 5 stars154
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on April 15, 2002
There is a well known addage in movies that we all get what we have coming to us. The same can be said of this movie, whether in regards to the protagonist or the viewer his or herself. To begin with, I saw a version of the Wicker Man on video years ago and wouldn't have even given it a star for a rating. The story was chopped up so badly that I felt like the editor had gone to work on me instead. The limited edition presents the theatrical release and the 'European version' of the film. A big note of thanks should go to Anchor Bay for seeing that the story line makes better sense this time-and this goes for both versions.
To get down to it, this is a movie about sex, or the fertility rites of a certain island just west of Britain in the springtime. Edward Woodward does a fine job as a police inspector duty-tied to both his job and his religion. Everyone else, including Christopher Lee seems superflous, however. Oddly enough, this almost seems to work for the movie, which is in effect about unresolved sex and red herrings. Considering the overt sexuality and eroticism of the movie, I found the ending to be a little disturbing. The movie itself can be said to be a metaphor about the dangers of falling down the wrong rabbit hole after you have tried long and hard enough to do so.
Voyeurs be warned, there is no actual love making going on on screen. Yet, this is a very sexy and erotic movie, which I guess serves to make the ending more disturbing. Visually, this film is first class. Shot on location, the outside shots are gorgeous.
Wicker Man is not what you would call the most nailbiting of horror movies. The answer of whether our protagonist gets the ending suited to him will probably be found by asking the question of whether you deserved to sit and watch this film for its eighty some odd minutes. There are many better movies out there that deserved a limited edition release more than this one. The film that comes most to mind is "Vampire Circus", a movie that has consistently been rated highly by critics, and that has been conspicuously left unreleased by Anchor Bay. Hopefully they will come around and give THAT film the release it receives.
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on May 31, 2004
I have just seen this movie end five minutes ago and will proclaim that this is the shortest period of time before I wrote a review of a movie after watching it.
The plot has been reiterated over 100 times, just scroll down and you can find it.
The movie begins as a mystery with a police officer coming to the town and beginning the investigation of a missing girl. As night falls the movie starts to turn into a campy 70s-80s style horror/gore/porno style flick with the weird singing, gratuitous nudity, and dark and haunting imagery of the graveyard. From this point the viewer will assume that they know the direction in which the movie is headed; headed into a vat of gratuitous nudity and possibly some gory scenes. These images subside rather quickly and we are returned to the mystery imagery. We then see children learning about pagan sex symbols and singing songs about rituals and whatever else. The mystery begins to unfold with an empty desk in the middle of a class in a town with a total of a few hundred residents.
Officer Howie begins to discover more clues and a web of mendacity and conspiracy in the strange town. Soon he is lead down the path to the true nature of the town. I will not divulge the ending to those that have not yet seen it but it is rather dramatic.
The movie's imagery is thoroughly interesting and even if you are not captivated by the exhilerating plot you are sure to be impressed by the interesting surroundings and some of the outright bizarre rituals. Though it may seem that the plot moves a little slowly, everything has relevance to the story.
The movie I beleive is wrongly referred to as a horror movie as there is not a single scene where you will jump up out of your seat, there are however some rather dramatic and powerful images that might disturb you but none that will genuinely frighten. Furthermore the movie does not create the same mood as a horror film partly because the first time director did not know much about creating mood or atmosphere, however this is all ok as I love unconventional movies.
Furthermore the music in the movie is truly unique and every one of the actors has a powerful voice and the instrumentals are also very good, all played on celtic folk instruments of sorts. The movie has enough music to be called a musical however this is the farthest thing in the world from broadway.
Overall this movie could not be more recommended, and as you can of course see i am not the only person to hold such an opinion about this movie.
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on January 12, 2011
The Wicker Man is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Directed brilliantly by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward, this film is one of the finest examples of horror film making as art. The genius of this film is its ability to touch upon a theme that can historically and viscerally hit home to the viewer in its realism. A deeply religious and spiritual film, it challenges the viewer on an existential and moral level that few horror films ever dare to attempt, and if they do dare often veer into camp or nonsense.

A very unusual film, it addresses the nature of religion, faith and the testing of that faith, and the historical reality of religious martyrdom. This film in particular brings to life the ancient confrontation between paganism and Christianity, displaying the sharp contrast between their divergent world views.

This is a film that is also very well made. The story is well developed and thought out, the characters giving the viewer an emotional connection to them, particularly to the policeman played by Edward Woodward in what has to be the finest performance of his film career.

If someone was looking for a classic horror movie to view, this would be the one.
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on September 3, 2001
The very indignant folks writing in to say the long version presented in the LE version of Anchor Bay's 'Wicker Man' is incomplete or missing scenes must be engaging in some sort of "I'm cooler than you are" one-upsmanship. Whatever's going on, they're mistaken. As others have pointed out, this is the longest and most complete version of the film that has been released thus far, and is virtually identical with the Magnum "103 minute" version (the box timing of the Magnum release is incorrect.) If complainants can provide details of scenes omitted from the Anchor Bay release that they themselves have seen in other versions (the Magnum, or any other), I'd love for them to back up their claims by posting the information. It must be noted, though, that even this version is apparently far from what Shaffer, Hardy, and Lee intended, as the film was mauled by the studio and the original footage is supposedly lost. But it's the most complete one available.
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on April 11, 2014
In his search for a missing girl on a remote Scottish Island, Sergeant Neil Howie encounters smiling villagers with soft Scottish accents and eccentric folkloric practices. At each contact with the villagers he is led further into a maze of blind ends with the solution to the alleged crime always just out of reach. The 'Laird' of Summerisle manipulates the game like an almighty puppet master. A sense of looming menace lurks always beneath the surface. Like the Fool in the Tarot deck, the naïve and innocent Howie is led finally 'ín a pretty dance' to his terrible enlightenment. For me this movie is horror in a deeply psychological sense, without any need to resort to blood or obvious violence. It is worth noting that in his autobiography, Christopher Lee (Lord Summerisle), mentions The Wickerman as one of his favourite movies. The later remake of this movie cannot hold a candle to the original.
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on September 14, 2007
this is a different movie,to say the least.it's very low key.you won't
get a lot of loud noise or music in this one.i won't give any of the
plot away,but i'll just say it is a mystery involving the occult and
paganism.it is a U.K movie which stars Edwaard Woodward and Christopher
Lee,and Britt Ekland.the creepiness factor is high in this movie and
the location really adds to it.if you expect to be terrified and jump
out of your skin,you should think again.this is not a horror movie in
the conventional sense.it is however very moody and mysterious and
there are some moments where your skin might crawl.one thing i really
like about this movie is it's unpredictability. you will have to have
patience while watching this movie,as it unfolds slowly,but is
definitely worth the wait.if you like movies with a slow buildup to
suspense,you will like The Wicker Man. 4/5
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on July 5, 2007
The Wicker Man is a film about a pious Catholic sergeant's visit to a small island off the coast of Scotland called the Island of Summerisle. His name is Neil and he is there to investigate the disappearance of a girl. His investigation reveals that the island is enamored with a neo-pagan religion. They worship the sun instead of Jesus. They engage in pagan fertility rituals instead of Neil's proud pre-marital chastity. They believe in reincarnation where the Christian canon Neil is devoted to does not. As if the islanders are telepathically connected, Neil receives absolutely no help from anyone in his investigation. He gradually puts together more and more details about the inhabitants' practices and is suspicious of everyone.

A May Day festival approaches and Neil becomes concerned that the girl who is missing may indeed be the latest sacrifice to appease nature. But as the Island owner Lord Summerisle reveals, Neil too is a virgin and is both wise and foolish. He comes as a king representing Her Majesty's government. He also arrives to a place of sacrifice by his own free will. The final sequence of the Wicker Man is the ultimate warning toward blind faith. Anyone who misses the point here, like the makers of the 2006 remake of the Wicker Man did, will clearly find little resolution in the end but others willing to enjoy and exercise their imagination a little bit will have much to mull over.

The film's music is one of its strengths and the detail of the pagan references and how they are convenient roots to many Christian traditions (i.e. Easter icons and Beltane or May Day) help to make the overall vision of the Wicker Man even more compelling. All of the elements within the film melt together and everyone working it must've understood these ideas in perspective.

The funny thing about the Wicker Man is it is often referred to as a Horror film. There really isn't anything else to call it but it is almost too unique and exceptional to be deemed a horror film. It isn't scary like a typical horror film is. It doesn't elicit fear and disgust the way all other horror films have. There are no zombies, vampires or murdering sociopaths. There are no supernatural forces and there is little blood to be spilled. It isn't characterized by that one note creepy music or menacing Hitchcockian suspense. It doesn't rely on knives and masked killers stalking in the night. It doesn't even need a seemingly indestructible villain. The Wicker Man is a film that relies exclusively on its all encompassing atmosphere and it also relies on our own understandings of religion and faith. It is sunny, it is bright, it is cheerful, but for all of the wrong reasons to many of us. It is compelling all throughout. Somehow on this island paganism resurfaced and the worshippers are fiercely and irrationally devout. That point's layers of commentary aside, the Wicker Man is very much a horror film and it is probably more intelligent than any other movies within its genre.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 22, 2015
This info relates to the original version from 1973 with Christopher Lee. It is in the must see category . A constable is sent to an island off the coast of The United Kingdom ( probably Scotland by the accents ) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young girl. The inhabitants are nice , but weird , with even weirder customs. The island benefits from the gulf stream and many crops not normally grown that far north are able to survive. The deeper the constable looks the more he becomes certain that the girl was murdered. Not film noir , but , spooky and surreal and un- worldly . You will not anticipate , nor believe , the ending. One of a kind story that is mind blowing.
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on May 10, 2015
This my all time favourite, a classical film in the genre of British film-making. Christopher Lee excels as Lord Summerisle, and all the cast play their roles to perfection. Much credit must go to Edward Woodward for making his role as Sgt. Howie so believable. One can scarcely believe the tiny budget which produced this very powerful film. The setting on the Western Isles of Scotland provides the perfect backdrop to the central Pagan theme of the movie, of regeneration of the natural land spirit. Again, a classical film and one which I love to watch again and again!
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on July 2, 2004
I can't remember the first time I saw this film, but the next day I started a search for a print of it.
Edward Woodward stars as the almost unsympathetic, pious, and determined officer who matches wits with Christopher Lee, in a marvelous role of the smiling, ever-reasonable villianous island cult leader. The entire community seems to be hiding the truth behind the disappearance of a young girl, even to the degree of at first denying her existence. The very conservative Christian representative of the law has walked into the middle of a very Pagan circle; this conflict has to be resolved. Initially, the audience may not be too sure who is playing with whom or why. The climax of the suspense is a twist where the hunter becomes the sacrificial hunted.
Incredibly, the suspense of the plot does not wear off with repeated viewings, thanks to the production values (hats off to all those involved, shooting outdoor spring scenes in November on the coast of Scotland!) and outstanding performances of the cast.
I knew, when I saw it the first time, that the version I had seen of it had been cut down; however, even at the "sliced salami" level, it was an extraordinary experience - and experience is the word. The film puts you right there in the midst of the puzzle. Over the years I found various cuts of the film, eagerly awaiting what might be reconstructed. (The only other film I can recall searching for this diligently is a "more complete" cut of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis.")
This special edition of "The Wicker Man" might well be as good as it gets. Certainly, the inclusion of the backstory of the film ("The Enigma of The Wicker Man") added to both the theatrical and extended versions makes this particular release worth having.
If you haven't seen the film, make the chance. It's not exactly horror, it's not exactly mystery - it's both. And then some. It's one of a kind. It's "The Wicker Man."
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