These days The Wicker Man is best known for its ridiculous 2006 remake, the centerpiece being walking meme Nicolas Cage. This is a shame—as much fun as a bad movie can be, the original 1973 Wicker Man is one of the unassailable classics of horror, mixing memorable performances and unsettling visual design with themes about religion as a personal versus societal force. It’s also got a way better, wilder story behind it than Cage’s famed bear-suit punching shenanigans—it was used as the key tool in a studio power struggle, was almost lost entirely, and its film stock may rest under a major British highway.
THE PRODUCTION STORY
The Wicker Man is the story of a British police officer named Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward, whom you may better know from the very deliberate callback to this film in Hot Fuzz), who travels to the Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. But once there, he finds himself led around the nose by the island’s inhabitants, who’re preparing for their May Day festival and seem to know something he doesn’t.