Impact Magazine review of The Wicker Man: Conversations:
The Wicker Man remains one of British cinema's seminal horror outings. Not for this legendary British Lion production, the camper vampiric nature of the more stereotypical output from more familiar counterpoint Hammer, though there's certainly a dark and surreal undercurrent to the tale of mystery, suspense and fundamental clash of religions. It may be a film of its time (especially taking into consideration the ill-advised, much-mocked remake starring Nic Cage several decades later) but with the drama behind the camera being almost equal to that in front of it and much controversy that followed its post-production, there's no denying it still holds an intriguing place in the hearts of many film critics and horror enthusiasts.
Stephen Applebaum's examination of the film doesn't so much set out to unravel the many contradictions, controversies and legends that surround the film, as simply go to some of the key movers and shakers and ask them for their version and opinions. He collects together past interviews he has done and brings them together in one place, printed in full for the first time then leaves the reader to decide on the individual and collected opinions themselves. Though a fuller, longer and more nuanced book might ultimately be more satisfying for the die-hard Wicker enthusiast, the author's work allows key insights into what the key participants were thinking and reasoning during production and such recollections are always interesting. Director Robin Hardy, writer Anthony Shaffer and star Edward Woodward come at the discussions and material from different directions with a more contemporary industry name Eli Roth talking about how the film influenced his work.
With writer Anthony Shaffer and star Edward Woodward now having passed on, their particular memories of how they became involved and experienced the shoot are both poignant and revealing. Shaffer does nothing to prevent his reputation of a delightfully indiscrete raconteur from expanding, making claims as to why certain people were cast in certain roles for political reasons and how some performances worked better than others. There are candid opinions on what worked and what did not and how various personalities shaped proceedings. The eclectic mixture of actors and the egos involved are not air-brushed for the sake of blushes and one does get a real feel for a project that impacted all involved.
This is Stephen's first e-book version of some of his collected interviews and one hopes for more material and longer tomes in the future
Think you've read all you need to read about the 'Citizen Kane of horror movies'? Then think again. Stephen Applebaum's essential e-book features interviews with director Robin Hardy, writer Anthony Shaffer and the late great Edward Woodward. A book so good, it'll send you back to the movie with fresh enthusiasm.
One of the best film interviewers around pulls together years of conversations with Hardy, Shaffer and Woodward to create a fascinating insight behind the making and thinking behind The Wicker Man - as well as the distributor's reaction when they finally saw it.