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The Wicker Man

Already a legend among fans and followers of sci-fi/horror/fantasy films, The Wicker Man was made in England in 1973, and given limited release in a few American cities in 1974 in a drastically cut-down version. For the past five years, groups of film enthusiasts have pressed for the release of the full version of the film which Cinefantastique magazine has called “The Citizen Kane of horror films.” Finally, an independent distributor in New York has come to the rescue, spending years untangling legal questions of ownership and locating the excised scenes. The uncut Wicker Man premiered to standing-room-only response at the 1978 Telluride Festival, where extra screenings had to be scheduled to accommodate audience demand. It will begin its first U.S. theatrical engagement in mid-January at the Lumiere Theatre in San Francisco.

As for the plot, as Bob Di Matteo notes in The Bay Guardian, it “has something to do with a Scottish policeman (Edward Woodward) who goes to an island off the western coast of Scotland in search of a missing girl. The island turns out to be the last outpost of paganism, with inhabitants who engage in all kinds of strange rituals under the leadership of one Lord Summerisle (horror-movie star Christopher Lee). Once there, the policeman finds his Christian, rational grip on the world to be of little avail.” The highly original screenplay is by British playwright Anthony (Sleuth) Shaffer.

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