Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

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the wicker man 1973

The Wicker Man: 31 Days of Horror

#27. The Wicker Man (1973)

the wicker man 1973 posterNature of Shame:
No Shame. Just a worthy revisit and a bizarro #Bond_age_ live tweet.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1970’s

The first time I saw The Wicker Man, I was left broken, beguiled and bewildered. The second time I saw The Wicker Man, I finally saw the film for the first time. The third time, this time, I marveled at the people who dared make such a bold slice of cinema that was destined for misunderstanding.

 

The Story

Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives on the small Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the report of a missing child. A conservative Christian, the policeman observes the residents’ frivolous sexual displays and strange pagan rituals, particularly the temptations of Willow (Britt Ekland), daughter of the island magistrate, Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child.

the wicker man 1973

I stuck to the rote, prescribed version of the narrative description so I can move on with other thoughts about The Wicker Man. I find it freeing — the not wasting energy retelling the plot in movie reviews. Conservation of brain cells. Plus, it takes less time than conjuring “cute” new ways to describe a movie you’ve likely already seen.

If you haven’t seen The Wicker man… first a word of warning. Do not strangle The Wicker Man while watching it. The Wicker Man requires patience and the ability to step back from the active experience of moviewatching. Active moviewatchers can be demanding and ill-tempered. Sometimes the most profound experiences happen when we’re allowing the movie to play out on its own terms. During my first viewing, expectation clouded the experience.

Robin Hardy’s film assaults you on an entirely different level than face-value terror. To experience The Wicker Man as an unsettling, truly frightening piece of cinema, concessions are required. One must not only accept that Sergeant Howie’s Western ideology is fallible — but also that Summerisle’s pagan beliefs are just as logical.

the wicker man 1973

Doing this requires the censure of our innate skepticism toward cult teachings and pagan religion. It’s not Hardy’s film supports a world devoid of God; it creates a parallel between the blindness of Christianity and the devotion of a cult that believes ritual sacrifice will bring back a failing orange crop. It calls everything into question.

Still I wouldn’t go as far as to say that The Wicker Man supports a strict doctrine of existentialism. It calls into question the beliefs that distract us from considering truths. When the credits roll, the emptiness — if we choose to embrace it — leaves us totally and emotionally bankrupt. In part because movies generally don’t dare end on such a note and in part because what we’ve just witnessed has raised questions about the way all of us live our lives.

And that stays with you, writing beneath you skin in a way a jump scare or a fleeting moment of terror couldn’t even imagine.

the wicker man 1973

Final The Wicker Man Thoughts:

Even if you don’t care for The Wicker Man upon a first viewing, let it sit, let it simmer. Come back to it with a clear mind and fresh eyes in a couple of years. And then let it wash over you without expectation, like a great jazz composition, with attention but without concern for strict narrative logic. The Wicker Man might just be one of the greatest horror films ever made — if you allow it access.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

the wicker man blu-ray

 

 

The Wicker Man is available wherever fine pagan cinema is sold.

Buy The Wicker Man on Amazon.

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

the wife killer 1976

The Wife Killer: 31 Days of Horror

#25. The Wife Killer (1976)

the wife killer posterNature of Shame:
Unwatched Mondo Macabro DVD

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1970’s
Country of origin: Greece

I’ve never seen a Greek horror movie. Come to think of it, the most Greek movie I’ve probably ever seen was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’ve had this movie on my shelf for a few years so what better time to toss it in and taste a Greek-style giallo. Maybe with some baklava because baklava makes everything better.

The Story

Because I’m still dropping #31DaysofHorror reviews in the middle of November, I’m going to start taking a few liberties with these “reviews.” Like copying plot synopses from the DVD distributors:

Penniless playboy Captain Jim is in hock to his rich older wife, Helen. She has even bought him the fancy yacht that now bears his name. But Jim does not want to be Helen’s toy boy any more. He wants to marry his lover, Laura. He pays a psychopathic killer of women to murder Helen so that he will inherit his wife’s millions. But the psycho killer has his own plans. Suspecting Jim will double cross him, he engineers a complex scheme that will give him the upper hand. Very much in the style of the violent and baroque “Giallo” thrillers from 1970s Italy, The Wife Killer is a twisted, shocking and brutal exploration of the devious male psyche. Previously only released to cinemas in a cut version, this is the first official DVD release of the film in the U.S., complete and uncensored.

Here’s the thing about “giallo” type thrillers: they can go a few different ways. The film must decide how it’s going to go about its business. The Bava and Argento school preaches hyper-stylization and the importance of visual setpieces over narrative. The alternative methodology leans on the Poliziotteschi (Italian police procedural) for its backbone and merely borrows giallo tropes.

the wife killer 1976

What we have here with Kostas Karagiannis’ The Wife Killer (aka The Rape Killer, aka Death Kiss) is a film firmly rooted in the furthest reaches of the Poliziotteschi side of the spectrum. While the murders are frequent, the dry presentation offers no visual spectacle to alleviate the viewer from the difficult on-screen brutality.

So the murder’s favorite weapon? A knife, right? Every good giallo killer uses a knife. Maybe a hatchet? No? Okay, so he strangles them. Wait. He slaps them silly? You’re putting me on. 

No, good sirs and madams, I am not. The Wife Killer’s favorite method of attack is the open-faced palm slap. And repeat. One slap murder is okay. Two is comical. Three is a crowd. I’ve never seen so much slapping in a movie this side of Airplane!

Despite the slaps and tangled machinations, I found The Wife Killer to be an incredibly slow film without much payoff. That said, I’m not a huge deep-cut Poliziotteschi fan and I prefer my gialli in the hands of Bava or Argento or their hyperstylized disciples. But if a twisty and brutal Poliziotteschi film dressed in deranged marital disharmony sounds like your cup of tea, I encourage you to seek this one out.

Final The Wife Killer Thoughts:

 

The film’s alternate and seemingly more common title — The Rape Killer — suggests a kind of base depravity that’s just not present. The Wife Killer makes more sense because the film largely just concerns a violent, depraved misogynist. Occasionally uncomfortable, always 1970’s-brand grimy and gritty, but mostly forgettable. If you’re not familiar with Poliziotteschi or gialli films, seek something better. If you’re an expert devouring whatever world cinema has to offer, by all means sample this Greek slice of Italy’s genre cinema.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

 

Availability:  

the wife killer dvd

The Wife Killer is available wherever you find depraved world cinema.

 

Buy The Wife Killer on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

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