Wicker Men

I was a big horror fan throughout the first half of my life, but my interest really peaked in the 70s and 80s when I discovered Stephen King and Peter Straub, two of the genre’s true literary writers. Back in those days, horror aficionados would whisper of films so terrifying they could only be seen at  the midnight showings of questionable theaters. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House On The Left, The Town That Feared Sundown, etc.

I didn’t go to midnight screenings back then because if I was going to stay up until two in the morning, I was going to do it drinking not sitting in a crappy movie house that smelled like vomit and farts. But I did eventually get around to seeing those movies and they were mostly disappointing, low budget fails except for Massacre which remains starkly terrifying.

The one I never managed to catch in a theater was The Wicker Man. People talked about this movie as if it were some sort of life changing pilgrimage into the South American jungle. It was terrifying. It was hallucinatory. It was insane. When I finally did get to see it sometime in the 80s I took an aisle seat to make sure I could make a quick bolt for the door if it got too intense.

That was a precaution that proved entirely too unnecessary. I found the film boring, badly written, and predictable. It was a huge disappointment. But just to be sure, I watched it again on Blu-Ray this week and took notes. It was so bad that I then turned around and watched the Nicolas Cage version to see what the remake was like.

Spoilers for the Wicker Men movies follow.

The Wicker Man (1973)

“Too much folk music” — the most horrific thing about this movie is its 1970s devotion to folk music. I mean, it’s truly awful stuff, torturous.

“How did we put up with such slow openings?” — This movie in particular takes a literal eternity to get started — It’s mostly watching the plane fly out to the island — but just in general, I’m remembering that movies had opening credits and overtures, etc., back in the day.

“Britt Ecklund is not scots” – They had to dub her. Why is she in this movie? She’s Swedish (or something)

“The first even remotely creepy thing happens 55 minutes into the film.”  And now I can’t remember what it was.

“The constant horrible din of the folk music is maddening” — yeah, I’m not getting off the terrible music anytime soon.

“I do wonder if the animal masks influenced Kubrick Shining.”

The end is just a tremendous letdown. The only thing I felt was relief that it was over.

The Wicker Man (2006)

“This so awkwardly directed. Neil Lebute? Really?” The guy who directed In The Company of Men is responsible for this school project quality train wreck?

“Nick Cage commits 100% to everything all the time.” Even something dreadful.

“This is lame ersatz Kubrick.” But it makes me wonder what it would have been like if Kubrick had taken a run at this.

“Meet cute is just meet stupid.”

“Unmotivated performances.”

“Cage committing so hard to this terrible writing just highlights how bad the writing really is.”

“Bad acting. Overacting”

“Not even well edited.”

“This looks like a 1970s TV show.”

“Cage can speak without moving his lips.”

“His suit is too big. Did they just rent something from Men’s Warehouse and call it good?”

“Nick Cage beating up women.”

“They spoiled the reveal of the pilot’s body. Telegraphed it.”

“Ellen Burstyn is a treasure.”

“I like that Edward was dressed the fool in the original.”

“In his bear costume, Cage looks like robot monster!”

“The blind sisters are just cliche.”

“So the passion of the Cage just happens off screen?”

“What happened to the bees in the cage on his head?” This scene which went viral on the internet has been removed from the version I saw. Why?

“Damn that’s James Franco and Ritter.”

“The exposition is so bad.”

The end is equally as disappointing as the original, so the movie’s got that going for it.

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