Monday, September 4

If you only see one movie this summer, make sure it's not 'Wicker Man'

The universe conspired Sunday to get us in the car and out to the drive-in for its 40th birthday weekend.

I will agree to see just about anything if it's in drive-in form and the weather is as perfect as it was yesterday. So Phil and I decided we'd suffer through The Wicker Man to see Talladega Nights again, and end the night on a comedy.

And, as predicted, TN was just as funny the second time.

But this post isn't about Talladega Nights. This post is about The Wicker Man. My apologies to Brandon, who has had to sit through this spiel already.

There will be spoilers ahead and I should note that I have absolutely no love for Nicolas Cage post-Raising Arizona. But this movie wasn't marred by Nicolas Cage. In fact, I hate everything about this movie more than I hate Nicolas Cage. Yeah. Whoa.

I've never seen the original, so I guess I can't say for sure whether this is a shitty movie or just a remake of a shitty movie. It doesn't matter to me; this movie blows chunks, as I might have said when I was 12.

The story starts out interestingly enough: A California cop (Cage) sees that a girl in a car on the highway has lost her doll. He tracks down the car and gives the doll back to the girl. The girl is a little brat and throws it back out onto the road, and the cop steps away from the car to get the doll once again. At that point, a giant supersonic 18-wheeler plows into the car, which erupts into flames. The cop tries to get the mom and the girl out, but the car asplodes into Hollywood flames and knocks him out.

He comes to and we are to infer that he's taken his immense failure in the face of blazing gasoline pretty hard, as he is still not back on patrol. One of his fellow offers — a female, curiously — brings him a letter from an unknown source. He opens it up and realizes that it's from his former fiancée, who apparently DedTMFA a few years ago and moved back to her hometown on an island near the Puget Sound in Washington. The ex-fiancée says that she has a daughter who's missing and she needs Nic Cage's copstastic help finding her.

Blah blah, useless exposition, cut to the part where Nic (I'm not using his stupid character's name because I'm too lazy to look it up) bribes a pilot carrying supplies to take him to this island, which is regarded in the community as mysterious and private and everyone is to leave the islanders alone. So Nic gets to the island and gets a cold reception from the people who see him wandering up from the shore, and he announces with rude pomposity that he's a Californian cop here looking for a missing girl.

Blah blah more useless stuff, let's cut to the chase, shall we?

Turns out the cop — who learns that the little girl he's hunting for is his daughter — has visited an island inhabited by a woman-controlled pagan cult of beekeepers who teach all about the evil phallus in gradeschool; emasculate their men and make them do menial tasks; send their young women out into the world to seduce men, make them get them pregnant, dump them, then lure them back to the island so they can sacrifice them to have a better honey crop the next year. The sacrificial ritual of choice? Death by fire at the top of a giant wooden man that also contains chickens and other sacrificial farm animals.

And as Nic Cage has his legs broken and is hoisted up to the top of the Wicker Man, he can only express his raging impotence by yelling, as a protest, "BITCHES! You BITCHES!"

So, yes, the movie you might have thought was a thriller about a little ghost girl on a creepy island is actually about the pagan death cults and face-painting that will evolve naturally when you put Ellen Burstyn in charge and let Leelee Sobieski perversely let bees crawl all over her.

The best part? The magnificent claim by the pagan leader that everything was intricately set up to get the cop to the island for the sacrifice. So that means that gnarly car wreck with the 18-wheeler was a set-up, the FEMALE (!!!) cop in the beginning was part of the cult, the little apparitions and hallucinations and dreams that the cop kept seeing and having were all ... uh ... his brain playing along because the cult said it should ... ???

Oh, and also, the movie was dedicated to Johnny Ramone. ... ??? !!!

I'm running out of ways to punctuate my disdain for this movie.

It was seriously, seriously horrible. And I don't even mean the womyn-run pagan death cult part; that was just the ludicrous icing on the ridonkulous cake. Jesus, if you need to watch a movie about bees, at least make it this one.

So happy birthday, Summer Drive-In. Here's to 40 more years of shitty Nicolas Cage movies.


Blogger Aunt B said...

I feel like I should at least stick up for the original Wicker Man which is, as you might guess, a terrible movie, but one that is so awesome in its badness that everyone should see it just once.

The pagan cult in the original is so awesome that, with the exception of the whole 'kill the priggish cop' thing, it's kind of a cool travel movie to a place I'd like to vacation.

Which, I have to say, is what makes it so awesome. It's only a horror movie if you identify with the cop. If you don't, it's a fun movie about how cool it'd be if we were all pagan.

Tue Sep 05, 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger phallicpen said...

I would only relocate to such an island if Shirley MacLaine were in charge. Sorry.

Tue Sep 05, 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger John H said...

I wasn't much tempted to see W. Man, but thanks to you, what little curiousity i had has now vanished.

Cage puts the giant MOTE in emoting most of the time, but I agree, you gotta love him in 'Raising Arizona', and for some reason I could more than tolerate him in Moonstruck..but THAT IS IT for me..

Tue Sep 05, 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger mike said...

That whole "18 wheeler suddenly creams the car" bit was stolen from a much better version in the Japanese horror movie "Premonition."

The original was pretty good. Very atmospheric and creepy until the horror of the ending. It worked because you thought the villagers were just a particularly quaint English village of strange local customs, not full-on weirdo cultists.

And the slap of the horror was in the realisation that the "pure virgin" wasn't some young woman but Ed Woodward's character! The clues were there, but you didn't add them up until it was too late. ;-)

Not a great movie, but a fun cult item.

Wed Sep 06, 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

So the moral of the story is I should rent the original?

All right, all right!! Sold!

Thu Sep 07, 03:50:00 AM  

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