The Wicker Man Robin Hardy

It’s unsettling from the moment Police Sergeant Howie (Edward "The Equalizer” Woodward) sets foot onto the remote Scottish island of Summerisle. He’s greeted with mockery and dissonance, and from there on in it gets worse and weirder. The Wicker Man is a chilling flick about infiltrating a society that just won’t stand for it, no matter how pleasant and aloof they seem. Howie, an uptight officer from mainland Scotland, is in search of an adolescent girl reported missing on the enigmatic island. As he grills the locals (including the always effective Christopher Lee as creepy Lord Summerisle), he finds an overwhelming elusiveness amongst the town, as if they’re hiding something in the most peculiar and mischievous way. (And boy are they!) His deep Christian values are given a hefty blow by their blunt perversion and pagan rituals, which include dressing up as animals, worshipping the sun and producing a jubilant sacrifice when necessary. The jump cuts, trailing hints, overall uncertainty of just about everything and wildly festive folk songs (written by Paul Giovanni) coalesce for one of the most haunting experiences you’d never expect. Throw in Britt Ekland’s entrancing but completely bizarre naked dance routine and it gets that much better. Perhaps one of the finest twist endings to boot (yes, the title character does come into play in the most horrific way), The Wicker Man is sure to be butchered by its modern adaptation simply because its strength has a lot to do with its early ’70s veneer. Unfortunately though, this DVD is merely just a repackaging of the inferior 2001 release to coincide with Neil LaBute’s updated version. The "Enigma” featurette is a fascinating look at the troubled production of the film (and post-production, which includes losing the film’s negatives, rumoured to be buried underneath the M3 highway in England), complete with interviews by Woodward, Lee and Hardy, but the best way to experience this film is by picking up the two-disc version that comes in an attractive wooden box. Plus: trailer, TV and radio spots. (Anchor Bay)