Cast (1973): Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward
Cast (2006): Nicolas Cage…that’s all that matters
Synopsis: In the 1973 version, a Christian policeman shows up on an isolated Scottish island looking for a missing child, only to find a mysterious bunch of pagans and Christopher Lee in a dress. In the Nicolas Cage remake, a cop shows up on an isolated Washington state island looking for his missing daughter, only to find embarrassment….and some kind of lesbian-honey-witch coven.
Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to the first part in a three-post countdown to Halloween. Today, tomorrow and on the big day itself, I will be adding horror movie reviews to get us all in the spirit of the best holiday known to man. Each post will tackle a different horror subgenre. Tonight, we will look at two horror films that can be described as “psychological”: The 1973 British cult-classic is a tense and chilling thriller that will keep you guessing whereas the 2006 remake will cause your brain to melt.
Let’s start with what the 1973 film gets right. In short, it gets pretty much everything right. A stellar cast gives their all in a visceral and unnerving thriller which keeps you guessing right up to the last minute. Even if you know how the film ends there is still so much to enjoy. For starters, this movie has boobs and ass and Christopher Lee prancing around in a dress and speaking with his booming voice. The film itself is not actually that scary and, at times, it lulls you into this false sense of security because everything on the isolated Scottish island is so calm and pretty. At the film’s core, however, there is an element of mystery and deceit heightened by the fact that we are not made aware of the islanders’ intentions until the brutal finale.
If you don’t know the ending then look away now because I’m about to spoil it for you. SPOILER ALERT: the islander’s burn the main character alive in a giant wicker man as a sacrifice for next year’s apple crop. The movie’s final scene is so powerful: Edward Woodward trapped in the wicker man, praying and singing hymns for strength as the flames engulf him. It’s quite a difficult scene to watch and deliciously horrifying. At the time the film was released, the film must have been quite controversial ad shocking. Although maybe not as scary by today’s standards, the film is still a great Halloween watch and is perfect for those who can’t stand gore or film’s that make you jump.
Now we come to the 2006 remake. In a way, it’s easier to talk about the remake because there’s just so much craziness going on. Everything that the original film worked so hard to create is systematically demolished in a hilarious, if somewhat misogynistic, re-imagining. It’s essentially the other side of The Wicker Man coin: whereas the original got everything right, the remake gets everything spectacularly wrong.
For starters, the islanders are changed from pagans to honey-making feminists dressed in strange renaissance gear. The change really was not necessary and while the islanders in the original had an intriguing complexity to them, the islanders on in the remake are reduced to stereotypical man-hating feminists. Moreover, in the original film the audience was not made aware of the islanders’ intentions until the very end of the movie whereas here it’s made so bloody obvious that they want to burn Nic Cage alive. All the mystery and intrigue is thrown out the window in favour of having Nic Cage punch a woman while wearing a bear suit.
However, it’s these kinds of random fucked up moments of that make the remake so God-damn enjoyable. The whole way through you’ll be asking yourself all sorts questions in an attempt to understand the film’s craziness. For instance, why does Nic Cage imagine a little girl getting hit by a train and who the hell was that girl burnt alive in the car at the beginning of the movie? Also, if Nic Cage is allergic to bees then why is he wandering into the beehive enclosure? Also, HOW’D IT GET BURNED!? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzrDpj6M1ig) The 2006 film is the sort of movie you can criticise and laugh about until the cows come home. Although the movie is not so much a horror movie because it’s too fucking funny, the 2006 remake is still a great movie to watch at Halloween if you’re with a group of friends and you’re looking to laugh at something awful.
- Christopher Lee is a bad-ass mo fo. Dude dances around in a dress bedding fine-ass ladies.
- Nic Cage is a bad-ass mo fo. Dude goes around punching ladies while wearing a bear costume and smacks around Leelee Sobieski.
- Everything Nic Cage says in the movie is pure poetry…”You little liars!”….”HOW’D IT GET BURNED!?”
- The wicker man burning scenes are brilliant. The one in the original movie is terrifying while the one in the remake is hysterical because Nic Cage gets his legs broken by a sledgehammer. Also, “NOT THE BEES!!!”
The Wicker Man, both the original and the remake, are brilliant movies but for completely different reasons. One is a masterpiece, the other is a disaster-piece. If you watch one, you’re going to have to watch the other. If you’ve not got much planned for Halloween night and you’re looking to kill a few hours, I would fully recommend watching these movies one after another. Watch the original first and get creeped out but follow it up with the remake and take comfort in its hilarity and the knowledge that you will never do anything as bad as this movie is.