Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, charismatic pagan cult leader
The Hebrides, Scotland, Spring 1973
Film: The Wicker Man
Release Date: December 6, 1973
Director: Robin Hardy
Costume Designer: Sue Yelland
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy Halloween! This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy’s Scottish-set drama that helped define the folk horror subgenre.
After more than a decade portraying the debonair yet dangerous Count Dracula in a half-dozen Hammer films, Christopher Lee met with screenwriter Anthony Shaffer in 1971 to discuss collaborating on a more unique type of horror. Shaffer’s subsequent conversations with director Robin Hardy centered their focus on old religion, like the practices depicted in David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual, which Shaffer set out to adapting into what would become The Wicker Man.
The Wicker Man follows the devout and unimaginative police sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) to the remote island of Summerisle in the Hebrides, facing polite but firm resistance as he investigates a young girl’s disappearance leading up to the island’s annual May Day celebrations. Howie’s investigations direct him to the island’s much-discussed leader, the mannered Lord Summerisle who describes himself to Howie as “a heathen, conceivably, but not—I hope—an unenlightened one.” Continue reading