Monday, July 29, 2013

Director Approved "Final Cut" of 'The Wicker Man' Coming This Halloween Season...

Although it is widely regarded as one of the best horror films ever to stalk out of the UK, Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man was subjected to some particularly nasty cuts upon its original release, losing 20 key minutes in its home country and another 13 in the US where Roger Corman intended to distribute it (but ultimately didn't). In the ensuing years, the hacked off parts became tough to find, though a complete cut of the film was eventually sewn together for its release on DVD in 2001. Unfortunately, the sources were in poor shape, so the previously lost footage stood out like a sore, grainy, wickery thumb.

Whether or not that problem will persist with the latest ...and apparently "final... cut of The Wicker Man will remain to be seen on October 13 when it makes its UK debut on Blu-ray (and receives a fresh release on DVD). The copy on Amazon.com does insist that "no stone (has been) unturned for the opportunity of uncovering  any of the original film materials" and "the ghosts have now been laid to rest, as we can finally and happily confirm, that this is the Final Cut." So, even if the quality still jars from scene to scene, there may be new scenes among them.

Like the two-disc DVD released in 2005, the four-disc Wicker Man: The Final Cut will also include the chopped up theatrical version of the film, a disc of extras (specs are still unknown), and a CD of it's awesome soundtrack. You can pre-order it now on Blu-ray and DVD on Amazon.co.uk here:

Here's what I had to say about The Wicker Man in Psychobabble’s 150 Essential Horror Movies

The Wicker Man (1973- dir. Robin Hardy)

Having made some of the best horror films of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, Hammer Studios had degenerated into cheap exploitation for good by the ‘70s. Some of these films were still great fun—The Vampire Lovers, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires are a few highlights—but the studio had long since lost any desire to produce anything but camp. Released by British Lion Films in 1973, The Wicker Man feels like what-might-have-been had Hammer continued taking its horror seriously while also feeling like nothing before or after it. Hammer stars Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt are in tow for a completely bizarre pagan musical undulating with queasy paranoia. Edward Woodward is Sgt. Howie, a police investigator lured to tiny Summerisle where a young girl has gone missing. There he is confronted by a pagan society with barely concealed secrets and a delicious lack of respect for his Christian ultra-conservatism (what a fresh antidote after The Exorcist!). Eerie folk songs are used to unsettling effect as the residents of Summerisle test Howie’s devotion to his job and religion and confound him with strange behavior and contradictory clues. It all builds to a fevered climax that was unwisely given away by the film’s trailer and poster art. But even if you already know how The Wicker Man unravels, the film is still essential viewing for its originality, terrific music, wicked humor, and disturbing atmosphere. Unfortunately, the film was edited for distribution in America at Roger Corman’s request, and further butchered when released in Britain on a double bill with Don’t Look Now. The excised material lost for years, most audiences saw a severely altered version of The Wicker Man, though a decent reconstruction appeared in 2001. This is the recommended way to view what may be Britain’s greatest horror film.
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