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The best British horror film of them all? Aug 29

Jonathan at Liberal England has been blogging valiantly throughout the summer about the BBC’s Summer of British Film season. This week the genre is horror films, kicked off at the weekend with an excellent documentary on BBC Two. In addition to the films mentioned in Jonathan’s post, selected cinemas put on limited showing of what is arguably the best British horror film of them all: The Wicker Man. So Mr Nimbos and I pottered along to the Trocadero last night to watch it.

A tale of pagan worship, sexual repression and a missing child, it’s a dark film, but not without its share of light touches: Edward Woodward’s Sergeant Howie, dumfounded as the denizens of the Green Man Inn spontaneously sing about the buxom daughter of the landlord; Christopher Lee in a dress; a schoolteacher explaining the symbolism of the maypole. Woodward’s portrayal of the pious Howie faced with temptation and debauchery is a masterpiece – although that doesn’t stop Lee stealing scenes when he appears. There is satire of religion generally and of Christianity in particular, as Howie is challenged to explain why his faith is more well-founded than the islanders’. The climax, the swaying and contrapuntal song counterpointing the shocking action, is both bleak and unpleasantly upbeat, leaving entirely unresolved the question of whether the islanders’ beliefs turn out to be correct – a definitively British finale.

For fans of The League of Gentlemen (the TV series, not the film), there are some very recognisable moments. Oh, and Britt Ekland prances around naked. Did I forget to mention that?

4 Responses

  1. As I’m sure everyone on the planet is by now well aware, that isn’t Britt Ekland’s arse doing the prancing, but a stand-in arse.

    I’m not sure I’d call it Britain’s best horror because it isn’t that horrific. But it is Britain’s best something. Does mildly unsettling and deeply satirical count as a genre in its own right? Possibly only in Britain. Gawd bless us, every one.

  2. 2

    Yes, I was looking out to see if I noticed the hair change as the stunt arse took her place…

  3. 3
    James Blanchard 

    Britain’s best stand-in arse?

  4. I love all the British movies that were filmed in england and london and i think chistopher lee was and is the best actor to protray dracula but dont forget the werewolf movies with lon chaney sr.and lon chaney jr was also filmed over there and they are the best wolfman movies i have ever seen