Wednesday, May 23, 2012

THE WICKER TREE: Even Cowgirls Get Attacked by Pagans

Hey at least it's not another remake right? That's what I've heard said about The Wicker Tree. You know what else I've heard? That's a fine movie that plays to all the original film's strengths, but can't possibly touch the original. Yeah, I'll go with that. I'll also say that it's a fun movie for younger horror goers who aren't as familiar with the original film. Hopefully it can get a few fresh minds looking at pure naked island pagan beauty in all its viciousness. Let's get specific.
Synopsis (from the Anchor Bay so that I don't give away the goods): Basedon Robin Hardy's acclaimed 2006 novel "Cowboys for Christ," THE WICKER TREE tells the story of Texas-based singer Beth Boothby (newcomer Brittania Nicol) and her friend Steve Thomson (HenryGarrett), two born-again Christians who come to Scotland to spread the gospel. When their initial efforts are met with disdain and disinterest, they find comfort in an invitation to sing in Tressock, the border fiefdom owned by Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish). However, Beth's and Steve's message of personal chastity quickly comes into direct conflict withTressock's sexual and religious practices, drawing upon ancient Celtic beliefs and rituals.Temptations begin to challenge Beth and Steve -- with the stakes no less than their very lives and souls... Christopher Lee, who played the mysterious Lord Summerisle in the original,returns again in a dramatic cameo. Rounding out the cast are Jacqueline Leonard as Lady DeliaMorrison, Clive Russell as Beame, James Mapes as Reverend Moriarty and Honeysuckle Weeks as Lolly.

First off, and I don't think I'm spoiling a god damn thing, Chris Lee is but a footnote in this movie. I know you were all wondering how much screen time he'd get. Well it's not enough to make you want to see the movie if that's the only reason you're considering see it. He's fantastic... for a few moments and the gone. The film reaches back only in a few basic concepts to the Wicker Man. It's not a true sequel. You won't feel like Lord Summerisle is gonna walk up a hill to a giant man made out of branches that will enventually become the funeral pyre for an unsuspecting police officer. Yes, there are unsuspecting potential victim, but they're not the bobby's you're looking for. The Wicker Tree has a few nice gore sequences. You'll enjoy every bit that this film has to offer. It's not reinventing the video camera, but it's not boring either. At least one of the effects had me thinking Wake Wood. It's just that type of blood and guts. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by some of the effects selections especially having their direction have significance to the story rather than just being thrown in for flavor.

I found myself rooting against the protagonists. I guess the whole Christian missionary thing didn't sit well with me. I don't think it sat well with the locals either. The point at which you start rooting for the bad guys you better hope that there's at least one fun kill sequence, and for that the Wicker Tree does have an answer. It's nice to know that Robin Hardy believes in these stories enough to continue with them. The original Wicker Man was an X Rated vision of pagan hedonism and human sacrifice. This is truly no different, but tells a unique story all its own. Having not read the book it's based on, I cannot speak to its adaptation, but Cowboys for Christ sounds like it's worth checking out. This is not the bomb you think it might be, but you have to be ready to have some fun, enjoy some nudie cuties running around spouting spiritual gibberish and put up with a more than one hymn.

Coming at you April 24th on DVD and Blu Ray. Maybe you can ask the Easter Bunny for some cash in them there plastic eggies. Even he can get behind pagan holidays right? That's a joke for those in the know... or those who ready too much Silver Ravenwolf as a kid.


  1. I came THIS close to making a Silver Ravenwolf joke in my review. Bravo.

  2. This was a re post from another site so it's a bit older. Wanted to get it on Dr. Terror. I thought you might appreciate that line but you can see just how hard it was to keep out of your discussion on the movie. I wanted to come running down the aisle like Hogan at Wrestlemania IV during the Macho Man/DiBiase bout.