The Horror Honeys: Flesh to Touch...Flesh to Burn! Don't Keep the Wicker Man Waiting!

Flesh to Touch...Flesh to Burn! Don't Keep the Wicker Man Waiting!

A Revenge Honey 'Honey Month' Review by Linnie

The Wicker Man (1973)

I have always been very vocal about the fact that out of all of the horror films I watch, movies about cults and religion scare me the most. However, I can also admit that as a bit of a witch/child of nature myself, films about the same don't usually unsettle me too much. The lone exception to that general rule is Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man. There has always been something about those kookie Celtic pagans frolicking around around the maypole and fucking in fields that left a bad taste in my mouth... But I suppose I am getting ahead of myself. Let us journey into the insanity that is THE WICKER MAN!

The Plot: Sgt. Howie, a good Christian fellow from Scotland, is sent to the secluded island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a little girl named Rowan. It doesn't take long for Howie to realize that something is seriously amiss on Summerisle, chiefly that the residents seem to be engaging in pagan rituals at the behest of their leader, Lord Summerisle. Has Rowan really disappeared? Or has she been sacrificed to a pagan god to ensure the continued bounty of the island's crops? And will Sgt. Howie be able to hold on to his virtue as a young lass named Willow humps the wall next to his bedroom? 

Dracula he is not.
The answer to all of these questions and many more are answered in this strange little curio that is both deeply disturbing horror film and also, a folk musical. Of which there aren't nearly enough, if you ask me. The Wicker Man stars Edward Woodward as Howie and the magnificent Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, who actually performed in this film for free. There is no question that Lee pulled no punches as he attempted to shed his Hammer Studios image of Dracula, and he does it brilliantly. A little too brilliantly, perhaps, because I can kind of picture Lee shepherding his own pagan cult on an island somewhere.

At least witches don't have to wear hyper-realistic dog masks... Silly pagans.
Spoilers ahead!

I'd have to say that my favorite element of The Wicker Man, however, is that it is the first film to my mind that made virginity a main character's downfall instead of their salvation. Because in The Wicker Man, like the real world, being a middle-aged virgin is actually something that leads to a fiery death alongside a goat and some chickens. (Okay, that might just be The Wicker Man). While the more extreme elements of paganism as portrayed through Anthony Shaffer's script are frightening, there is no question that the rigidity of Christianity is shown to be just as perilous.

And thus began decades of Scottish rock fans camping in fields.
The Wicker Man has also proven to be one of the most influential horror films of all time, even if it doesn't have the same viewership of a Halloween or a Nightmare on Elm Street. You can see traces of its story and set design in films that are still being released today. Additionally, starting in 2001, a counter-culture music festival, called... get this... "The Wicker Man Festival," began in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland that is based around the film, with the main stage in Summerisle. Every year, the festival ends with the burning of a 30 ft. tall wicker man recreation.

Is The Wicker Man everyone's cup of organic, apple-infused pagan tea? Probably not. It can be pretty cheesy and if you are not SERIOUSLY tolerant of hippie folk rock, you will probably end up annoyed fairly quickly. But I've always loved it, mostly because it holds up with repeated viewings and scares the bejeesus out of me every time. So if you haven't seen it, throw on some jazzy face paint, get naked, and queue up this cult classic. And remember...

"Sing, cuckoo! Ewe bleats harshly after lamb, cows after calves make moo."

Revenge Honey Rating - 4 Nonsense Folks Songs out of 5