The Wicker Man (1974)

Having been pained enough by the Nicholas Cage remake, I felt it was about time I acquaint myself with the original version of the Wicker Man, a movie that has been called the “Citizen Kane of Horror movies”.  This, of course, was not by me as I wouldn’t say this movie is THAT good, especially having not seen Citizen Kane.  But let’s see if I would call this movie “The Tombstone of Horror movies”.  The Wicker Man stars Edward Woodward (who I know from a small part in Hot Fuzz), Britt Ekland (who I don’t know but was apparently in one of the Bond movies), and Christopher Lee (who I DEFINITELY know as Count Dooku in the prequel Star Wars and Saruman in Lord of the Rings).  I’ll again spoil this movie, not because it’s so bad you shouldn’t see it, but because I already spoiled the other Wicker Man and the stories are pretty close.

Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) comes to Summerisle, a privately owned island famed for it’s fruit produce and crazy religious folk, to investigate the disappearance of a young lady named Rowan Morrison.  Howie, who loves him some Jesus, is disturbed by the pagan society.  People run around naked, talk about the phallic nature of a tree, and breastfeed in graveyards.  Also, the girl in the room next to him in the inn, Willow (Britt Ekland), gets naked and does a rendition of a Stevie Nicks music video to try to get him to come over and bump uglies, but he’s married to Jesus and won’t give her none.  People on the island give him the run around, acting like Rowan doesn’t exist, then say she “doesn’t exist” because she died and no longer exists as Rowan.  He finds her grave, then goes to meet Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) in order to get permission to exhume her grave.  When he does so, he finds a dead hare and no Rowan.  He starts finding out that the island blames her for a poor harvest in the previous season.  He intends to go back to the mainland to get backup, but his plane has been sabotaged and won’t start.  Instead, he knocks out he innkeeper and takes his costume for the May Day celebration.  The costume is of Punch, a principal character in the festival of the fool.  He finds that they are going to sacrifice Rowan, frees her, and they escape through the caves to the shore.  Here, Rowan ditches him and rejoins Lord Summerisle, who explains that he will be sacrificed because Howie came there with the power of a king (as a cop), with the power of God (as a devout Christian), as a virgin (as he has not gotten nookie), and as a fool.  He’s then burned alive in a giant Wicker Man.

Now, I don’t know if I’d go anywhere near so far as to say this is the greatest horror movie ever, or the greatest British movie ever, or anything of the sort.  I have a hard time with older movies as they almost always feel so dated.  This movie suffers from that as well, but it’s still a very interesting and watchable movie.  I would go so far as to say this movie is FAR superior to it’s 2006 remake.  That being said, this movie is pretty damned strange.  The weird examples of their crazy pagan lifestyle are as off putting to me as they seemed to be to Howie.  Of the ones I can remember was the girl crying naked behind a tombstone, the girls jumping naked over a fire pit, and the girl breastfeeding in the graveyard.  Odd that all the ones I remember involve naked girls.  Another weird thing is that there’s a gravestone that says the dude is “protected by the ejaculation of serpents”.  But by far the weirdest thing about this movie is the fact that it’s kind of a musical horror movie.  There are about 4 times in the movie where people break into strange songs for about 5 minutes a piece.  I’m not a fan of musicals, personally, but I especially don’t get the musical horror mash up.  All that being said, this movie does create a creepy atmosphere, it lands the tension it aims at, and it makes a good horror movie that’s just a little bit dated by now.

Unlike the remake, the acting in this movie is all good.  But it’s British.  They pretty much invented acting.  Okay that’s probably not true, but they’re still good at it.  Woodward was probably the most standout of the performances in the movie.  You could always tell that he was doing all he could to hold back his distaste for their religion, although he still expressed it often.  The thing I thought was cool was that, unlike the remake where everyone else was an asshole, in this movie Howie was the biggest asshole.  I mean, how you gonna go to someone else’s house and tell them their religion is wrong ’cause they’re not lovin on the Jesus?  Let them do their thing.  If you had loved Jesus a little less (say, the amount I do), you probably wouldn’t have died.  See, I love Jesus, but I will also have sex before marriage.  And, when that Willow girl was offering up the vagina, I’d have taken it, and then I wouldn’t have been a virgin and I wouldn’t have been sacrificed.  There, I said it, premarital sex saves lives.

So, if you’re like my friend Loni and you want to know the story of The Wicker Man without sitting through the 2006 abortion, watch this one instead.  If you don’t care about the story, you can probably do without either.  I’ll give this movie a “Come.  It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man” out of “…weird”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.

The Wicker Man (2006)

Okay, so this is my first review request being realized and at present time I am in a great state of resentment towards my friend Loni for her request for my review of The Wicker Man, starring Nicholas Cage. I’ve made my feelings known about Nicholas Cage, so it’s no secret that I’m skeptical of movies that he’s in, and this movie may be the reason. So here is my review of the very first time I’ve ever watched this movie without having it’s pain reduced by the hilarious cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 making jokes throughout it with their Rifftrax awesomeness. Also, keep in mind that I will not only review this movie, but I will not refrain from spoiling it so that you will not feel the need to watch it in it’s entirety.

The Wicker Man is the story of a cop (Cage) who witnesses a car accident that kills a woman and her lousy bitch of a doll-tossing daughter. Good riddance, says I! Anyway, he gets all sad like about it, then he gets a letter from a former girlfriend saying her daughter is missing and no one’s helping her find the girl. He gets on over to this isolated island to look for her. He keeps having visions of the girl being hit by a truck like the opening one; one such super goofy instance is seeing a little girl on the bow of the boat, probably proclaiming herself to be the king of the world or something, and as punishment for this overused joke, she’s hit by a semi. But it’s just a vision. A really goofy vision. He gets to the island that is mostly women, and really bitchy, unhelpful ones at that. He meets this fatty barmaid that gets all mad when he kills a bee (’cause he’s allergic) and their entire community is based on honey farming. He then meets the ex that sent the letter, a fish-faced woman who they named Willow, but I will call Guppy. He also meets LeeLee Sobieski, who is hot but plays a small part of a peculiar girl in the village. Why fish face and not hot ass Leelee for the romantic lead? ‘Cause it certainly wasn’t for her acting.

He starts inquiring about, and searching for, the little girl. At one point, whilst searching a barn, the floor breaks under his feet conveniently above a box full of pitchforks pointed up. He catches himself and the island bitches’ overly convenient trap is wasted. The women of the island are in some kind of religious, crazy Amish cult thing and do not recognize the law because the island is private property. If I was Cage, I’d ask if they recognized the authority of my gun, because no one would ever know if I killed everyone on the island, so best start answering my questions! Well they don’t answer his questions and basically lead him on a goose chase through the island looking for this girl that they rarely admit exists, then say she’s dead and the mom won’t accept it. Then Guppy tells Cage that the girl is his daughter.

Still looking for the girl (That’s like 90% of this movie), he walks into a beehive, then runs through a field of beehives running from the initial bees, running into more beehives and adding to his bee dilemma. You’d think he’d be more careful, right? I mean, I’m not even allergic to bees and I avoid them like crazy. He is rescued by the island’s doctor and finally meets Sister Summersisle, named for the island they’re on. She runs the show here, and adds to his goose chase. He goes and digs up where Rowen (The girl) is supposed to be buried. Surprise! She’s not there. Then he gets locked in a crypt. Guppy lets him out in the morning, and Cage has had enough. Time for some Rage Cage!

He goes back to the inn and finally reaches the point I would have about 5 days earlier in the movie, Wayne Brady’s gonna haveta choke a bitch. He bitch smacks the Barkeep to take her bear costume. LeeLee get all mad and attacks him. Does this stop Cage? Nuh uh! Karate kick to them sweet LeeLee titties, knocking her into a wall and subsequently unconscious. Cage, now a bear, follows the harvest parade through town to where they have Rowen tied up. He unties her and runs off with her, then runs into the whole town blocking him, but Rowen runs to her mom. Turns out this whole charade is to lure him to the island to sacrifice him to the Wicker Man (which is literally a giant man made of wicker) so they can have a better harvest. Sister Summersisle has her face painted half blue now for the ceremony of Braveheart that will now commence. They break his legs, hoist him into the Wicker Man via a pulley system that pulls Cage up through the Wicker Man’s taint, then burn Cage alive inside Pier 1 Man. The last scene on some versions of the movie is LeeLee and Guppy back on the mainland, they get hit on by James Franco and Jason Ritter, then they invite them back to their pad. The implication here being that the cycle will start again. THE END.

First, let’s focus again on Cage. Cage seems as disinterested in being in this movie as I was in watching it. Only barely becoming interesting enough to pay attention to when he goes bat shit crazy at the end. There’s a scene where he kisses Guppy that is so awkward. It seems like right after he first kissed her, he tasted something but couldn’t figure out what it was, so he goes back in to investigate. After his conversation with Sister Summersisle, he gets mad at her and has to storm off. But, since there are no cars on this island (which you might not be aware of while watching the movie because of all the tire tracks), Cage finds out that it is very difficult to storm off from something atop a bicycle. When they finally catch him, to prepare him for his sacrifice, they break both of his legs with a sledgehammer, presumably so he can’t run off. But it’s hard to find the emotion they intended in the scene while Cage is still wearing the fuzzy bear slippers.

I would say the worst part of the movie (if I could pick one) is that I have next to no idea what was going on. A good thing, then, would be that the movie’s not really predictable. Also the production value is decent. The biggest confusion is why the car crash death in the beginning (which they keep implying may not have happened) was there at all. It served no real purpose to the entire movie. Also, at one point a cop friend says “An ex girlfriend? The plot thickens? I didn’t know you had a plot” to Cage. Probably not a good idea to mention lack of plot in your plotless movie. It’s hard to tell whether the off-putting acting by the sister ladies was intention or not. And, because of the nihilistic ending where Cage dies, there’s not much of a climax. But since there’s not much of a build up, it makes sense.

The biggest problem with this movie, is why it wasn’t 20 minutes. Their whole goal was to get him to the island to sacrifice him, right? So why the goose chase? Why the torture? He gets to the island in like 15 minutes. Crack him on the head, burn him. THE END! My movie would be so much better. Also, this movie was dedicated to Johnny Ramone, which is not a kind thing to do to a man so highly respected in the music community that probably had nothing to do with the movie and liked it that way.

So, I hope I don’t need to actually give a rating to this movie, but I’ll do it anyway because I’ve made it my bit. I give this movie “You don’t NEED to see it now, I just told you everything you needed … and it sucks out loud” out of “this movie blows”.