For my next vacation I’m planning to head out to Summerisle. Sure, burning alive in a giant man made of wicker isn’t exactly Disney World but it’s gotta be a step up from The Epcot Center. C’mon guys, would it really be so bad? You get to ritually mate as much as you like, shrubs are shaped like wangs and the innkeeper’s daughter will drop it like it’s hot for you. Granted, you’ll eventually end up screaming for your God to save you while your skin peels back over the bone and you curl up into the fetal position but we’re talking mating outdoors — in big groups!
Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) has been brought out to a small island called, Summerisle in search of a young girl named Rowan Morrison. According to a note he received, the Mother hasn’t seen the child in months. He quickly jumps into a plane and is off to Summerisle to investigate into this strange disappearance.
The minute he arrives he’s met with resistance from the locals as they stonewall him any time he attempts to get to the bottom of the girls disappearance. Most deny even knowing the girl while the supposed Mother herself denies even having a daughter named Rowan! He decides there’s enough evidence to warrant and investigation so he decides to check in at the local inn owned by Alder MacGregor (Lindsay Kemp). Not only is MacGregor helpful but his busty daughter Willow (Britt Ekland) offers the Sergeant some pagan punanny later that night! The inhumanity! Tempted and struggling, the Sergeant resists because he’s a virgin and he’s saving himself for his fiancé.
Perplexed and pissed that the town seems so “heathen”, he heads to the local school where he passes a group of boys practicing for a pagan fertility ritual. He’s even more taken aback when he overhears the teacher conversing with the young ladies about the symbol of the maypole. The Sergeant decides to take things into his own hands and grabs the school roster from the teacher. There on the chart, Rowan Morrison, is listed as a student.
The teacher then explains to the Sergeant that nobody on Summerisle believes you truly die, only that you’re reincarnated into the air, sea, trees, grass and animals. She tells him that it’s easier for children to believe in reincarnation than resurrection. Blasphemy! He’s informed that Rowan lies in her grave in a plot of land attached to what used to be a Christian church. The man is truly horrified that the island has no Priests or a Church.
Sergeant Howie finally decides it’s time to stop by and pay Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) a visit and get to the bottom of this child’s disappearance. After exchanging some civilized religious barbs with Sgt. Howie, Lord Summerisle begins recounting the island’s history dating back to his grandfather and how the inhabitants of the island practice the old ways and worship the “old gods.”
Of course, no God-fearing Christian would find this acceptable and Sgt. Howie doubles his efforts to expose a conspiracy. He receives permission from Lord Summerisle to exhume the child’s body and bring her back to the mainland in order to rule out murder. Permission is granted; the child is exhumed and in the casket lays the decaying corpse of a hare (not a rabbit silly!). He’s not amused. There’s no death certificate, no body and still the girl is missing. There’s no other option — he takes it upon himself to search every home on Summerisle to the amusement of the locals.
After coming up empty-handed he drops in library to read up on the pagan rituals coming up on May 1st. He realizes that Rowan must have been a sacrifice to one of the gods after a poor harvest. Determined to discover where they’ve taken the girl he jumps the local “town fool” MacGregor and dresses up in his pagan festivity costume and joins in the ritual as it makes its way to the beach. There, on the cliff, is Rowan and she’s still alive! Dashing up the cliff he grabs the girl and enters a cave in hopes of helping the child escape. She leads him through what he believes is an escape exit.
It’s not. He’s caught and he’s been mistaken all along. Rowan was never to be the sacrifice, he was. His fate is sealed. The giant Wicker Man at the top of the hill awaits its sacrifice.
Amazing film. I love this flick though I warn those that haven’t seen it to prepare themselves because The Wicker Man borders on being an off-Broadway play. There are several instances in which somebody breaks out into a song or dance. If you can get past that, you’ll enjoy the strange alien feel of the island and its inhabitants. There’s an underlying menace to this peaceful place that sets a mood unmatched in horror. If you’re just hoping for T&A, you’re in luck! We get some group sex, school girls leaping over a bonfire naked and the innkeeper’s daughter shaking what her mama gave her, stroking the walls and flashing us muffin shots from the back, all while nude and singing. No cover charge here guys!
Christopher Lee is always at the top of his game. The man isn’t legendary for nothing. He exudes a creepy, yet delightfully 70’s vibe.
Honestly, there are some flaws in the film but which film doesn’t have them? One thing I had a problem with was the soundtrack. Holy Folk Singers! On occasion the soundtrack shifts from “corn and barley” folksy crap to Goblin-esque synth-rock. I wasn’t sure whether to slip on my hemp sandals or squeeze into my black gloves. I won’t go into the sub-text or the films religious significance nor will I describe one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history. You’ll just have to watch this for yourself.
I’m truly ashamed to say this but I can see why it’s being remade with Nicholas Cage. There’s no way in Hell kids born in the late 80’s, early 90’s are going to be able to sit through this film. It asks for more attention span and patience than most people nowadays can muster up. It’s a shame but it’s the truth.