Get Your Reps In: “The Wicker Man” May Be Cinema’s Most Iconic Pagan Horror Film

What to see at Portland’s repertory theaters.

The Wicker Man Geraldine Cowper and Edward Woodward in Robin HardyÕs THE WICKER MAN (1973). Courtesy: Rialto Pictures/ Studiocanal (IMDB)

The Wicker Man (1973)

It wouldn’t be May on the repertory film scene without a screening of (arguably) cinema’s most iconic pagan horror film.

Luckily, The Wicker Man blazes again on May 18 at Clinton Street Theater as part of its “Pagan May” series.

The film borderline delights in the psychological and spiritual torment of a stiff British police officer (Edward Woodward) who’s investigating a girl’s disappearance on a remote Scottish isle.

Director Robin Hardy spends most of the movie concocting kooky riddles and set pieces to rankle the constable’s devout Christian conservatism. He can’t stalk 10 feet in any direction on Summerisle without hearing a folk song about the joys of sex and regeneration, with those scenes often shot at dizzying Dutch angles.

The sergeant’s scandalization peaks comedywise when the innkeeper’s daughter (Britt Ekland) subjects him to a one-way mating dance, but there’s nothing to laugh about in the film’s final frames. It’s pure ritualistic spectacle with Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) presiding over some of the greatest cinematography in horror movie history. Clinton Street Theater, May 18.


5th Avenue: Things to Come (2016), May 17-19. Academy: Twister (1996), May 17-23. Eyes of Fire (1983), May 17-23. Ghost in the Shell (1995), May 17-23. Cinema 21: Black Narcissus (1947), May 18. Cinemagic: Enemy (2013) feat. Q&A with writer Javier Gullón, May 18. Prisoners (2013), May 18 and 21. Sicario (2015), May 19 and 23. Arrival (2016), May 19 and 22. Blade Runner 2049 (2017), May 17 and 20. Clinton: Häxan (1922), May 16. My Heart Is That Eternal Rose (1989), May 17. Three Promises (2023), May 18. Hollywood: Rebels of the Neon God (1992), May 17. Keoma (1976), May 17. Neptune Frost (2021), May 18. Raging Bull (1980), May 18. Hollywood 90028 (1973), May 18. Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), May 19. Rebecca (1940), May 20. The Body Beneath (1970), May 21. Tomorrow: Young Frankenstein (1974), May 18. Malcolm X (1992) feat. reading by poet Emmett Wheatfall, May 19.

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