Book Review: The Wicker Man: The Official Story of the Film by John Walsh

Robin Hardy’s 1973 British folk horror masterpiece, The Wicked Man, is a seminal and truly nightmarish depiction of the dark side of man’s belief and tensions between the burdens of the past and the twisted social progress of a new way of life. It’s not a film that has gore, special effects, serial killers, ghosts, demons, or artifice. It contains a sense of weirdness and bleak atmosphere that arguably hasn’t been attempted before or since. It also contains one of the most shocking endings in the history of cinema.

Author and filmmaker John Walsh really did his homework with his new book The Wicked Man: The Official Story of the Film, which lovingly and thoughtfully details the overall creation of the seminal classic (based on the 1967 horror novel Ritual by actor and author David Pinner.)

Through 192 glorious pages, every aspect of the film, from its origins to its casting; Seamus Flannery’s brilliant production design to composer Paul Giovanni’s sparse but creepy score; Hardy’s incredible direction to Eric Boyd-Perkins’s impeccable editing; its costumes to its three different cuts (original, director’s, and final); renowned writer Anthony Shaffer’s bold screenplay; and its overall reception (and censorship) to its second life as a fully appreciated work of dynamically creepy art. There is also a section called “legacy artfeaturing paintings, posters, and drawings from many artists and fans from all over the world, including Adam Burke, Ron Chan, Hans Woody, and more.

If The Wicker Man is your cup of horror tea, then this marvelous book is definitely for you! It’s a really neat analysis of a truly landmark masterpiece of cinematic adult fright.

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