Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Kept My Appointment With The Wicker Man, But He Wasn't That Cool

Sorry to be so flip about what is considered a cult classic, but I can't help but wonder why this flick is held in such high regard. And no, I'm not talking about the remake with Nicolas Cage, I'm talking about the original movie that so many people love, venerate, and ironically worship with a religious fervor.

This movie falls into "the hero is so stupid that I don't even care what happens to him" camp. Why we're supposed to like the policeman protagonist is beyond me, as every step of the way he's dumb, not the least bit cautious considering the circumstances, and appropriately pig-headed. The defenders of this movie will retort by saying, "Ah, yes, but we're not supposed to like him." To which I respond, "If we're not supposed to like him, then why do I care if (SPOILER) he's burned alive at the end of the movie?"

Huh? Why do I care? That's right. I don't.

In all fairness, this movie may have been overhyped for me. A few people previously told me it was the scariest, most terrifying movie they'd ever seen. But I found very little about it scary. The plot essentially evolves around this policeman trying to locate a young girl who a) is missing, b) doesn't exist, c) is dead, d) may not really be dead, e) who is alive, and f) who may be sacrificed in a pagan ritual. The cop reaches the summit of his stupidity when, in an audience head-smacking moment, he divulges his findings and his plans to Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee), the man who at least the audience is smart enough to know must be at the center of everything.

The score doesn't help. A 70s soft-rock, easy-listening melody plays at various points, which seriously undermines any tension or creepiness, and which calls attention to itself in all the wrong ways.

Like I say, maybe this was a case of a film being overhyped. Though, I think much of the male admiration of this movie has to do with the fact there's a lot of naked women dancing and/or fornicating throughout. Christoper Lee and the lead (as unlikeable as the character is) turn in solid performances, but on the whole this movie is just okay.


seana said...

I haven't seen it, Brian, but I'm guessing you answered your own question in the last paragraph. Naked women dancing and fornicating throughout--I'm surprised they even bothered with a storyline.

Brian O'Rourke said...


In all fairness, the nudity wasn't gratuitous, it did seem to fit the story.

These cult movies always seem to be hit or miss to me.

seana said...

You know, if I come across them after they've hit cult status, they almost always seem to be 'miss'. But there are any number of future cult films that I happened upon before they became 'it' movies that I really enjoyed. As a matter of fact, over on Martin Edwards blog , he's talking about one of the latter right now.

As to the "Live, Nude Girls!"aspect of Wicker Man, I'm not surprised that it makes contextual sense. I'm just saying that it wouldn't necessarily have to.

Brian O'Rourke said...


Nice linkage there. Dark City has been sitting atop my "must see" list for far too long. I think I'll move it to the top of the Netflix queue.

And I hear what you're saying about getting behind the cult curve and then not enjoying the particular movie at issue. I've found that a lot too. Perhaps some movies are so part of the fabric of the zeitgeist that you have to watch them around the time they come out, or else you just don't get the same kind of impact.

Or maybe I'm just talking out of my proverbial a--.

seana said...

No, I think it is a zeitgeist kind of thing. And I also think there's sort of a mini-zeitgeist effect if you get together with a bunch of friends and watch something cultish after the fact. I had a fun evening not too long ago watching The Avengers with some young friends who were much too young to see it the first time round. We had a great time both appreciating its sense of style and laughing at its now campiness. But if I had just picked up the DVD and watched it on my own, I think I would probably have just smiled a little and thought sadly 'dated'.

seana said...

But all that said, you should still see 'Dark City'.