The Wicker Man
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When a young girl mysteriously disappears Police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward of THE EQUALIZER) travels to a remote Scottish island to investigate. But this pastoral community led by the strange Lord Summerisle (a brilliant performance by the legendary Christopher Lee) is not what it seems as the devout Christian detective soon uncovers a secret society of wanton lust and pagan blasphemy. Can Howie now stop the cult s ultimate sacrifice before he himself comes face-to-face with the horror of THE WICKER MAN? Britt Ekland Diane Cilento and Ingrid Pitt co-star in this provocative shocker written by Anthony Shaffer (SLEUTH FRENZY) that fans and critics worldwide still consider a true cult classic and a modern horror masterpiece. This is the acclaimed U.S. theatrical version of THE WICKER MAN now fully restored from original vault materials for the first time ever. System Requirements:Running Time 88 Mins.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: HORROR Rating: R UPC: 013131478495 Manufacturer No: DV14784
- "The Wicker Man Enigma" featurette
- Talent bios
- TV spots
- Radio spots
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Earlier in 2013, it was announced that a print of a 94 minute version of the film was found and that this version had actually been prepared by the director for release in North American in the late 70's. While this version only keeps the bit of Howie going to church prior to his flight to the island in question, all of the events of the movie are in their proper order though there are bits here and there still missing out of this version. A full HD restoration of the 94 minute cut was prepared and released in a limited theatrical run as well as in a 3 disc deluxe British edition containing the 94 minute and 88 minute cuts in full HD as well as the 100 minute version in standard definition only. A huge documentary was included in addition to some nice interview extras on the main disc as well as a restoration comparison.
Lionsgate though for some reason decided in their infinite wisdom for the North American release to leave out the 2nd and 3rd discs from the Britsh set and only include the 1st "Final Cut" disc of the film containing the restored in HD 94 minute cut. So, if you were one of the lucky ones like me to get the Anchor Bay 2 disc set as it was limited to a run of only 50,000, make sure to hold onto that version due to Lionsgate deciding to not port the full UK edition to American shores.
How does the 94 minute cut work? Since I'm so familiar with the almost 100 minute extended version, I do sorely miss those extra scenes. However, the information contained in the mainland prologue section concerning Sgt. Howie is given throughout the main plot of the film but it does help set up his character a lot better. The other bits missing throughout the film don't really detract from the plot but once again, being so used to the long version, I realized when every little trim was not there. The movie though still works like gangbusters even in the 94 minute cut and since the scenes are in their proper order unlike the 88 minute original theatrical release, it's easy to follow what is going on with Sgt. Howie's strange interactions with the island's inhabitants during his search for the missing girl.
The picture quality overall is stupendous though some of the extra scenes included are of a rougher quality than the rest of the film (The "Gently, Johnny" sequence comes to mind). But this is the best that the film has ever looked and fans will be pleased with how much of a huge upgrade in picture quality the film has received for its HD debut. The audio is presented in the film's original 1 track mono in lossless audio. Extras contain interviews with various people talking about how much they love the film as well as the film's writer, a focus on the film's famous musical score and also a restoration comparison too.
If you have a region free blu-ray player, go ahead and import in the 3 disc British set as it's the truly definitive set for this amazing film that seems to keep getting better with age over 40 years since its original release. If you don't have access to a region free blu-ray player, then go ahead and get this set but also see if you can get one of the limited edition 2 disc Anchor Bay DVD sets so you can have both the 88 minute theatrical cut and almost 100 minute extended cut too. I have no idea why Lionsgate decided to do this with the North American blu-ray release and it's also a shame that the complete 102 minute version has still not been found and possibly at this point is unlikely that it will ever be. At least the film has been preserved in some digital fashion in both its DVD and new blu-ray releases so that future generations will be able to discover this film and get to see one of the greatest and most original films ever released.
Both these words apply to THE WICKER MAN.
I'd heard rumors and whispers about this movie for years; I'd even read Christopher Lee's warm words for it in his autobiography, but I didn't watch it until this year, and I admit that about halfway through I was ready to press STOP and give up. The movie was slow, eccentric, bizarre and at times, borderline ridiculous; then, all of the sudden, the eccentricity began to ravel into a feeling of increasing unease and menace, a sort of "everyone is in on the joke except the hero, and it's a very black joke indeed." By the climax I was watching mainly to see what the hell would happen, and once it did...well, not since the original PLANET OF THE APES have I been so jarred by a movie's ending.
THE WICKER MAN is the story of a British policeman named Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) who flies out to the remote, clannish, half-forgotten Scottish island of Summerisle, to investigate the disappearance of a young girl named Rowan Morrison. Almost immediately upon landing he begins to suspect the tight-lipped islanders aren't telling him everything, but his frustrated investigation rapidly yields one piece of very disconcerting information: on Summerisle, Christianity is dead and Celtic Paganism is the one true faith. Howie, a devout and somewhat self-righteous Christian, is revolted by this, and by the wanton sexuality of the island's female population, most noticeably the gorgeous Willow MacGregor (Brit Ecklund). Encountering the island's de facto ruler, Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), Howie gradually begins to suspect that Rowan Morrison may not have been murdered as he first suspected, but may in fact have been kidnapped preparatory to some Celtic ritual of human sacrifice. Determined to save Rowan's life, he searches the island from one end to the other without success, before deciding on an even more radical plan of action: he will infiltrate the "cult" by masquerading as one of them. Only then will he discover the answer to the question that brought him to Summerisle and has now placed his life in jeopardy: what the devil happened to Rowan Morrison?
As I said, I found the first half of this movie to be heavy going. There is a lot of bizarre dialogue and a lot -- I mean a LOT -- of singing. A lot of what I saw seemed weird for the sake of being weird and I didn't understand what the hell the point of all of this discomfort was. Only my loyalty to Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee kept me going, but once I crested Mount Weird, I began to see that like Rowan Morrison, I was being led somewhere...somewhere very freaking nasty, and all the nastier because the bad guys in this film don't see themselves as bad at all. Quite the contrary....
Obviously I am not giving you hard details here, because I can't describe the movie very accurately without giving away the store. What I can say is that Edward Woodward delivers a possibly career-best performance as a devoutly Christian cop whose entire sense of right and wrong, sane and insane, and hell, even up and down, are attacked from the moment he lands his seaplane by the quiet little island -- at first subtly, then more and more blatantly until the audience wonders just how much power the law has on an island which seems to be a law unto itself. This is a film that crumbles the self-assurance of its hero by degrees, inflicting a slow nonviolent torture on both him and the viewer, until exploding into a climax so jarring, so disturbing, and so outright horrifying that it took me hours to recover.
And isn't that exactly what you want from a horror movie?