There aren’t many films that merit a ‘final cut’. Blade Runner, perhaps? That was pushing it, after the director’s cut pretty much did the job. But Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man is a different beast, given the butchering it received on its 1973 release.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the so-called “Citizen Kane of horror movies” (according to Cinefantastique magazine, anyway) arrives, 2K restored, in definitive, hardy-approved form following a public appeal for lost footage.
The differences are slight but significant enough from the truncated UK theatrical cut – from Sgt. Howie’s (Edward Woodward) church attendance on the mainland, to garden scenes of his first night on Summerisle, the bizarre Scottish island he visits in search of a missing girl.
From mating snails to the ‘Gently Johnny’ song, each addition enhances the film’s otherworldly quality.
Still, the ‘final cut’ is just one element of this exhaustive package that brings the film to Blu-ray for the first time in a triple-disc set (four if you buy DVD).
Boasting everything any Wicker Man obsessive could wish for, it also features the aforementioned theatrical cut and the longer 104-minute ‘director’s cut’ with all the pre-credit police station scenes that hardy now considers surplus to requirements.
There are some new featurettes, including Worshipping The Wicker Man, with the likes of Ben Wheatley and Eli Roth weighing in on its enduring appeal. Also included is Mark Kermode’s essential 2001 doc Burnt Offering.
As Edward Woodward says, when he saw the towering Wicker Man (built by art director Seamus Flannery), “Never, ever have I been so frightened.” Forty years on, the scares are still there.
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