It’s Thursday which means it’s time for my next kill, and this time I’m bringing you all out into the daylight. #12 on my list comes from the folk horror tale – The Wicker Man (1973).
On a list that is all about discussing character deaths you’d think I wouldn’t have to put disclaimers, but I still feel compelled to, even for a film that premiered 47 years ago. The scene I’m detailing takes place during the climax so no doubt this will be a SPOILER.
I have to admit, my first time watching this film I was dubious of its stature as a horror classic. I was raised a Catholic and I have to imagine I felt my faith being attacked. The folksy vibe and sense of dreadful intent were not apparent to me, but upon a second viewing it’s clear that blind, unrelenting faith lies at the core of the horror.
Religion and colonialism have been perhaps the oldest causes of war and bloodshed in the whole of human history. They have since been joined by politics and money as the root of almost all wars. Though, you could argue they all overlap in one way or another.
Religion and belief, at their very core, are on trial in this film. In it a Scottish detective, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), arrives on the island of Summerisle to investigate a case of a missing young girl. The islanders are peculiar and pay no mind to the claims of foul-play in the case. In fact, they claim no knowledge of the girl’s existence at all, even her own mother.
The island folk are too busy preparing for their biggest festival of the year – May Day. This is a day when the town pays their respect to the pagan gods of old and pray for a fruitful harvest. They are led by the enigmatic Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee).
Sergeant Howie scoffs repeatedly at their pagan beliefs and rituals, swearing to them that God and Jesus Christ, alone, are to be worshiped and praised. He invokes the rights and power of law on the land, and the unquestionable rule of God above all. The locals smirk and snicker, as if they’re all under some group delusion that is not familiar with Christianity.
In a way this island is a time capsule, catapulting their societal construct back into the days of yore after realizing modern civilization has not bore fruitful lives. Indeed, the people on Summerisle appear more pleased and at ease with their life than the uptight and morally rigid Sergeant Howie.
To be honest, I’m going to keep this one short and to the point. Going any further would give away too much of what amounts to an explosive ending, and needless to say, this second viewing was vastly superior to my first viewing.
So enjoy and come back on Monday for #11 on my list of The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time!