THE director of cult 1973 film The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy, will be at the Showroom Cinema next week to introduce the sequel he has made 38 years later.
The Wicker Tree explores the same themes as the earlier film. The Wicker Man, which starred Edward Woodward and Britt Ekland, was the story of a Christian policeman who clashed with celtic pagans on a Scottish island while the new film sends some American evangelists on a similar ill-fated mission to spread the word of god.
Although The Wicker Man is often referred to as a horror classic, Hardy prefers to call both films black comedies.
”The Wicker Tree has songs in it and jokes and sex – rather a lot of it – as well as horror,” he says.
“The Wicker Man was the same, it started with a whole series of songs and there were lots of jokes.
“In the States we had this wonderful review which called it ‘the Citizen Kane of horror films’ which was a wonderful compliment to have on the one hand but a bit misleading on the other.”
Hardy made only one feature film in between the two Wickers – The Fantasist – but this doesn’t appear a source of frustration. “I’ve written five novels and done a lot of journalism. I divide my time between the States and the UK, I fill the time,” he insists.
And he has the satisfaction that his 1973 has continued to have a life with screenings and discussions. “Academics have written learned papers on it, often on subjects I can’t understand such as The Wicker Man and Wittgenstein or something.”
All the more satisfying given its unpromising start where it was put out on a double bill in UK cinemas.
“The production company hated it but the critics loved it so they couldn’t bury it entirely,” he recalls.
“Because I was going backwards and forwards to the States I was able to find a distributor over there and it became a huge success for an indie picture. Once they heard the Americans had discovered it, it became appreciated over here.”
He is particularly pleased that the younger generation appreciate it and it has become an A level set text and is keen to reach the cult audience with The Wicker Tree.
The plan is that they will form a trilogy to be completed with The Wrath of the Gods which he hopes to film in the Shetlands in time to have it ready for the Cannes Festival next year.
At 85 he doesn’t plan to slow down, evidently. “I was working on The Wicker Tree for 12 hours a day for three months and survived. I feel in good shape.”
He takes inspiration from Christopher Lee, a star of The Wicker Man, who had a cameo in The Wicker Tree. “He’s made three films over the past year and will be 90 next week.”
Cult Tuesdays – The Wicker Tree is being screened as part of the Showroom’s Cult Tuesdays next week followed by a Q & A with Robin Hardy.