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The 31 Greatest Horror Movies For Your 2005 Drunken Halloween Bash
(That Probably Cost Less To Make Than You Paid to Rent Out A Few Kegs*)
Horror Movie # 24:  The Wicker Man

Halloween is a weird holiday. It's the only one where we celebrate spirits, reanimated corpses, and death (if you don't count Christmas). It's the one day out of the year where freaks can look normal and normal people go out of their way to look like freaks. And, best of all, it's a great excuse to pull out your stash of horror DVDs -- ranging from laughable low-budget garbage to quality low-budget classics -- and party like those dancing corpses in the Thriller video. Since many people consider a Halloween Party with the Scream trilogy and some Old Milwaukee a "smashing success," I figured I would put my unhealthy obsession with all things horror to good use and let the world in on the cinematic secrets to giving the best damn Halloween party ever! A new movie will be added daily, right through until the morning of October 31st! You can thank me later. Now, would be fine, too. Either way.

"If I stare at this cross hard enough
I won't be aroused by the breast-feeding
lady behind me.  If I stare hard enough ...
Oh COME ON, did it have to be made
of wood?!?"

The Wicker Man
Review written by: Alex Sandell

The Story

Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) travels to Sumerisle to investigate the disappearance of a little girl, and possibly to play "Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts" at a few social-gatherings (my girlfriend said not to use that joke because, "readers will have to know what Chief Justice Roberts looks like and be familiar with the cop character in the movie -- no one will get it, Alex!"  She was probably right.).  Once on the island the locals are uncooperative, and slightly kooky. Chief Justice Roberts ... er ... "Sergeant Howie" continues his investigation and finds strange things are afoot.  Naked women are hopping around everywhere and people break out into song and dance like they're in some sort of weird X-rated Walt Disney movie.  Sample lyric from the characters on the island in The Wicker Man:  "Oh, nothing can delight so, as does the part that lies between her left toe and her right toe! The Landlord's Daughter!"  Sergeant Howie goes ballistic when he sees children being taught about the power of the phallic symbol in school (the students are being told that trees represent an erect penis) and is then told by every class member that they had never heard of the missing girl, even though her name is on the school registry.  He is finally told that the missing girl is actually already dead and has been buried.  He gets permission from Lord Sumerisle (Christopher Lee, who looks a lot like John Kerry in this movie) to excavate her grave, where he finds a dead rabbit.  He's told the rabbit is the missing girl and it's all that's left of her.  He starts thinking maybe the people in the town are a bit nutty and is determined to solve the mystery and find the girl, dead or alive.

How Many Beers Should Be Consumed Before Watching?

It's too bad The Wicker Man doesn't have an audio option that lets you turn on the song lyrics and watch a little yellow bouncing ball hop over them, so everyone can sing along.  Being that it's released by the tight-asses at Anchor Bay Entertainment, who must not think horror fans can go deaf and are most likely still resisting adding handicapped spots to their parking lot and wheelchair access to their building, there's not even the option of turning on subtitles for the hearing impaired (or drunks just wanting to sing their hearts out).  Still, the songs are pretty easy to remember and everyone can swing around their mugs of beer and yell out, "The Landlord's daughter!" along with the characters on screen.  This is a good 6 beer movie (wine coolers, if you prefer sugary, fruity, vomit-like substances).  The songs are a lot of fun with a strong buzz going, but if your male guests are drunk enough to go limp, you'll never be able to single out the people who need to get laid, by pointing out the inevitable erections that will occur thanks to the generous amount of nudity in the film.  This could lead to the inevitable group-sex this movie will cause to be, well, not so inevitable.

Gore Score

Choosing between a score of "Light Bruising," "Recently Deceased," "Badly Decomposed" and "Puke-Inducing," The Wicker Man gets a rating of "Recently Deceased."  It's more disturbing than it is gory. 

Would You Like Cheese With That?

Horror movies can be "Easy on the Cheese," "Regular Cheese," "Extra Cheesy" or "Instant Cheese Based Coronary."  The Wicker Man comes off as cheesy because of the weird songs.  But it's "cheese by association."  The movie itself is actually a creepy little piece of work (one critic -- and I can't remember which one -- called it, "The Citizen Kane of horror films") that rarely, if ever resorts to cheese.  I guess for the occasional bad lip-synching and overall absurdity of the whole thing, I'll give it a "Regular Cheese."    

Drug Use 

With "Let Off With a Warning," "Pay a Small Fine," "Put on Probation" and "Go Directly to Jail" to choose from, The Wicker Man gets "Let Off With a Warning."  People get drunk in the film, but if that's a crime, everyone you're watching it with on Halloween should be put in the slammer. 

Sex and the Psycho

Horror flicks and sex go together like romantic comedies and crap.  A terror movie can be rated "Nun," "Curious Schoolboy," "Chick After 8 Beers" or "Paris Hilton."  The Wicker Man is the first in the list of the 31 greatest horror movies for your 2005 drunken Halloween bash to earn the downright slutty "Paris Hilton" rating.  There's more nudity here than there was at the first Woodstock.  The stunt-ass for the lead actress is one of the nicest asses I've ever seen.  She swings it around like her anus just did a line of cocaine.  The first time I saw this I was a young teenager watching it with my young teenage friends.  It's lucky we all had long shirts on, because between an entire song being sung (sang?) by a naked lady who writhes seductively, a group of naked chicks jumping over a fire and people fucking outside of a tavern, I'm pretty sure erections were popping up like a mole's head in "Whack-A-Mole."  If the movie didn't have me so creeped out by the end, it would have more than likely been masturbation material for a month.  Instead I was stuck with the 6 hours of Playboy TV a friend taped for me off of his dad's satellite dish, along with random pages ripped from a stash of Hustler's a few of us found hidden out in the woods (the adolescent fight for pornography nearly turned the whole "stash of Hustlers" surprise into a "Lord of the Flies" moment). 

When Should it Crash the Halloween Party?

Whenever you want your Halloween party to turn into an orgy.  Pop this in with a few dozen consenting adults who've swallowed a combined seventeen or eighteen dozen beers, and things are going to happen.  Dirty things.  Involving penises.  And vaginas.  Possibly even penetration.  Just make sure the sex starts before the movie ends, or the chilling finale may wreck the mood.  Sort of like your wife walking in when you're with your girlfriend, or your grandma walking in when you're with your wife. 

Will You Hate Yourself in the Morning?

Waking up from a night of partying can be downright depressing.  Waking up with a cheap horror movie in your DVD player can feel like "Sex With a Hotty," "Sex With Someone in Your League," "Sex With Your Sister" or "Sex With a Sheep."  The Wicker Man is like having "Sex With a Hotty."  This is a powerful film.  At its start it appears to be a generic mystery.  It quickly turns into a battle between Christian and Pagan values.  It's one of those rare films that you can't put a label on.  Nothing that came before was anything like it, and there's been nothing like it released since.  Sadly, there's a remake in the works produced by and starring Nicolas Cage.  I'm sorry to report it to Mr. Cage, but this movie cannot properly be remade (and no matter what he names him, his son isn't Superman).  It's a complete original and the 2006 remake is certain to pale in comparison.  You couldn't put this out and receive an "R" rating in today's straight-laced "Born Again" America.  Director Robin Hardy and Screenwriter Anthony Shaffer captured lightning in a bottle and created something magic.  You can't do that twice.  The Wicker Man is unforgettable.  It's the most unique horror film ever made.  The movie mixes genres with ease, from detective story to musical to softcore porn to a truly terrifying horror experience.  It stays with you for years after you've seen it.  It haunts you and calls you back to watch it again.  In many ways it becomes your DVD collection's siren song.  It's the kind of movie you want to show all of your friends, your family, your co-workers.  It's that rare cinematic find that makes you feel like you've stumbled onto something special, rather than just another movie.   

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Fellow horror hound?  Have any comments on this film?  Recommendations for the list?  Email Alex!

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