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on 11 May 2017
I read some negative reviews about this film and glad I ignored these and bought it. An excellent film, a bit more lighthearted that the Wicker Man and with Honeysuckle Weeks in a sex scene which might disconcert those who are fans of Foyle's War! There are a few twists and turns and enough action to make this very gripping viewing.
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on 27 April 2017
Probably shouldn't have been made!
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on 18 May 2017
well pleased great condition
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on 4 June 2015
Two American Evangelists go to rural Scotland and ... well, you know the rest. A sequel to cult film The Wicker Man and directed by the same man (Robin Hardy), the stop/start production difficulties obviously didn't help the production, neither did the injury to acting legend Christopher Lee (who was reduced to a small cameo). There are obvious problems here - weak leads, one obviously not American, a lack of a-list talent (the original had Lee, Britt Ekland, Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt etc), a lack of tension, danger, menace, there is none of the creepy atmosphere (or creepy music) of the original and this one even has jokey parts seemingly not in keeping with the story. You have to wonder why anybody bothered to make it. Unfortunately, there's no getting away from the fact that its predecessor looms large over the proceedings like a, erm ... giant Wicker Man. It will always be compared to it and as such it will always be inferior. The main problem however, is that we know what the ending will be - the original was so shocking because we never saw it coming and that is why it continues to be such a cult film today. All horror films these days have endings like that but not in 1973 they didn't. I first watched it when I was a teenager, my dad said, "watch that film, it's a good un". To say it blew the mind of an adolescent teen would be an understatement. There is no comparison between this and the original. Better than the American remake of The Wicker Man but that isn't saying much. Worth watching for the Scottish locations and the gorgeous Honeysuckle Weeks in the buff, apart from that ...

This is doing the rounds on the Horror Channel so save yourself a few bob and catch it there.
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on 26 July 2013
A Christian church in Dallas sends two of its youths to Scotland to convert the heathens that live there, some of which "don't even believe in angels!" I just love corny dialouge like that. Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) looks and sings like an angel. She will be accompanied by her cowboy boyfriend Steve (Henry Garrett). They are chaste "silver ring" promise keepers somewhat to the dismay of Steve.

Not having much luck in the city, the Texas couple is recruited to heathen Tressock by Delia Morrison (Jacqueline Leonard) and Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish). Here they worship the ancient lunar goddess. On the island they are treated warmly. Lolly (Honeysuckle Weeks- not a porn name) plays up to Steve, she has taken over the seductress role of Brit Ekland.

I loved hearing Beth preach, "Jesus was greater than Rob Roy..." If you have seen any of the "Wicker Man" movies then you know how things evolve.

It was good to see Christopher Lee pass the baton, unfortunately this film wasn't as great as the original. The acting was fair, with some decent characters. Jack was my favorite.

If I had written this story I would have changed the ending to involve Jack and a "Don't mess with Texas" theme. That would have sold.

sex, nudity [Honeysuckle Weeks, Henry Garrett (rear), Brittania Nicol (rear) Misc. extras]
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on 1 May 2012
The other review here provides a helpful plot synopsis so I won't bother with any of that. Suffice to say, The Wicker Tree is more disappointing than I ever thought it could be. Terrible acting, clunky direction, naff music, unbelievable characters.

In the original, Howie's character was a believable, devout Christian - committed, horrified at Summerisle's pagan practices and living out a believable battle between his commitment to faith and all the temptations that Summerisle presents. In contrast, the Wicker Tree's Beth and Steve are shallow caricatures, lame stereotypes played for cheap laughs. Their mission to evangelise 'heathen Scotland' doesn't ring true. Relocating from a remote island to mainland UK removes any hint of genuine threat and isolation (you don't for one moment believe this place actually exists) and, given that Hardy is a Brit, that kind of lazy writing and directing is unforgivable. Clearly no research went in to trying to authentically present these places and characters - S+B's relationship is unconvincing from the first moment, their behaviour dubious, Beth's back-story is laughable and their methods of faith-sharing unconvincing guess work on Hardy's part. These things are also true of the characters' portrayal in Hardy's book (Cowboys for Christ) so it's no surprise that the film lazily regurgitates these errors. By the time their inevitable demise ensues, you've long ceased caring and you're just left hoping that the pay-off for these wretched cardboard cut-outs is worth it. It's not.

Clearly the Wicker Man is fantastical, but the joy and horror of it stems from the possibility that it could.. just be.. a true story. Tree, on the other hand, is like a poorly thought out play written by 15 year olds for a GCSE drama production. Everything that was bold, funny, scary, shocking and beautiful about the first film is (I assume unintentionally) mocked or (intentionally) rehashed. In 90 minutes there was one moving moment and only one genuinely (and intentionally) funny scene. Thematically, any attempt to comment on faith and religion, hope and virtue, sacrifice and naivete, love and death, nature and fear all go out of the window - if they were ever welcomed in to the room in the first place. The whole thing stinks. The music is tagged on, unmemorable and cringe-worthy. The comedy characters are woefully misjudged and their story arcs embarrassing. It doesn't matter how many breasts are thrust at the screen, there is zero erotic tension - Steve's temptation and subsequent actions are so ludicrous that Woodward would turn in his grave if he could see his character's virtues and struggles being so lazily lambasted.

Did I also mention: it's not at all scary. The Christopher Lee scene should have gone straight to the cutting room floor. The dialogue is naff. The acting is - for the most part and excluding Clive Russell - amateur. The rituals and rites of May Day and the Riding of the Laddie fail to engage or intimidate.

Pluses? The scenery is nice. The poster art is excellent. Nic Cage isn't in it - although I'd watch that sacrilegious Wicker Man remake 10 times before I ever sat down to watch this again. Why? because for other people to demonstrate sheer stupidity in tearing apart and misunderstanding the Wicker Man legend is one thing - for Robin Hardy to do it in such a cheap, tacky, boring, patronising way is something else entirely and he should be duly ashamed.

If you love the Wicker Man, curiosity will drive to you see this anyway - I'd be really interested to hear if people found it more bearable or less disappointing than I did. Am I being too harsh? Whatever - I won't be watching it again to find out.
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on 4 May 2013
I tried to like this film, I really did and I found it hard to give it 3 stars. Unfortunately it will always be in the shadow of its far superior forerunner "The Wicker man" the original Robin Hardy undisputed classic. All the ingredients should have been put in place for this, the original director, based on his own novel "cowboys for Christ", the fact that there was a rebellion against the awful Nicholas cage remake of the wickerman and the return of Christopher lee. As it happens Christopher lee had to pull out and is relegated to a very poor scene which was just placed in there to get his name on the credits. The problem with this film is that there is no dramatic tension. The original built up tension by having a mystery unfold set in an isolated village, featuring creepy characters and very odd musical interludes. The oddness was purposeful as it created uneasiness, adding to the pagan culture of the locals, culminating in a very shocking and thought provoking ending, which to me still hasn't lost its power. The Wicker tree has none of this. The characters are sometimes odd but unfortunately annoying, the music doesn't really add to the film as the songs tend to be more country style than folk which are also annoying. There is no interesting mystery unfolding and the climax is very poor in comparison, and didn't have that shiver element that the Edward Woodward "Oh Christ!!!" moment had. It was years in the making and I think Hardy probably over though it. The idea of the film is interesting but it just wasn't carried out with any real passion and at times feels like its a parody of the original. Have I mentioned that there is intentional comedy, and at times very cringeworthy unintentional comedy. It tries to replicate the original but fails on almost every level. The blu ray does have a nice cover though!!!
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on 17 February 2012
Young Christians Beth and Steve, a gospel singer and her cowboy boyfriend, leave Texas to preach door-to-door in Scotland . When, after initial abuse, they are welcomed with joy and elation to Tressock, the border fiefdom of Sir Lachlan Morrison, they assume their hosts simply want to hear more about Jesus. How innocent and wrong they are.
This shares many similarities with the cult British horror classic that he found success with in the 1970's, but The Wicker Tree is different enough to stand-out on it's own and not be classified as more of the same, even if the basic plot-lines are almost identical. This time around it's about a born again duo of evangelical country & western singers who have come to Scotland as 'redeemers' to convert an isolated pagan village to the path of Christ. However, where The Wicker Man was at turns as equally dark as it was intriguing, The Wicker Tree is a far more satirical affair, with jibes aimed at the genre and the background and beliefs of the protagonists.

Christopher Lee makes a brief appearance as an old man in a flash back, who may or may not be intended as an elderly Lord Summerisle,Ilike to think it is, but while his ill-health prevented him from taking on the role of the main villain his shoes are well filled by Graham McTavish, who provides some much needed fire and brimstone in contrast to the rather stilted performances from the two lead characters, although there were some good performances from the supporting cast, most notably Clive Russel as the butler Beame and Honeysuckle Weeks as the promiscuous pagan Lolly.

I found the setting and direction to be excellent and again Hardy has created an intriguing pagan culture that I would loved to have seen more focus upon, but while we all know what the outcome of the story is going to be at the outset of the film it often seems to concern itself more with poking fun than with captivating and intriguing, or even scaring the audience. It got a good share of laughs throughout and even a round of applause at one point, and I enjoyed it in that respects, but as a horror film, as a film doomed to stand in the shadow of The Wicker Man, I found it to be lacking.
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With 2010's The Wicker Tree, the long discussed but not exactly awaited not-quite-sequel to The Wicker Man - Special Edition Director's Cut (2 disc set) [DVD] [1973], only the third film in his 39-year career as director, Robin Hardy shows some technical improvement over his more rough-and-ready work on The Wicker Man and the silly and dreary The Fantasist [1986] [DVD] but is hobbled by the fact that as a screenwriter he's no Anthony Shaffer even if he is still relentlessly ploughing the same furrow four decades on. Where Shaffer's Wicker Man screenplay had black wit to compliment its twists and unsettling setting, Hardy's a more obvious scribe telling a less interesting story that would struggle to fit a half hour episode of Tales of the Very Much As We Expected. This time instead of a Christian copper it's a pair of American evangelists, aw shucks cowboy for Christ Henry Garrett and born again Britney Spears-type Brittania Nicol, who are lured to a Scottish village as part of their mission to convert the godless heathen people of Scotland, and naturally the villagers have their own reasons for welcoming them. This time it's not just their crops that have failed: since an accident at the local Nuada nuclear power plant the population has been rendered infertile and some much-needed new blood is the solution...

Pitched as a `filme fantastique' rather than a horror film, it plays out more like an episode of Tales of the Bleeding Obvious en route to its now overfamiliar ending. Even if there had never been a Wicker Man this wouldn't have made much impact because, unfortunately, this time round there's surprisingly little weirdness, mystery or threat as it just ambles flatly along, rarely descending into awfulness but just as rarely threatening to rise above mediocrity. Despite the best efforts of Graham MacTavish in Ben Kingsley-lite mode, it sorely lacks a figure as commanding as Christopher Lee's Lord Sommerisle to lift its spirits (an ailing Lee was long scheduled to play the part until an injury ruled him out). Even Lee himself can't do much with his brief compensatory cameo as an `elderly gentleman' in a flashback scene, exchanging the blasphemous bon mots of the earlier film that wittily picked away at its examination of the nature of faith and sacrifice with bland dialogue that you've heard a million times before, half of them probably in a class room while you were staring out the window. Honeysuckle Weeks fills in the Britt Ekland-ish role this time, but her sex scene is played more for laughs than eroticism, complete with comedy mugging that wouldn't be out of place in a Robin Askwith film. Unsurprisingly laughs, intentional or otherwise, are in as short supply as surprises or chills.

On the plus side the film does a decent job of integrating Keith Easdale's folk songs into the film (with John Scott filling in the gaps in the underscore) and there's a hint of a good scene when the local laird dismisses environmentalists concerns about his power plant by pointing out how much deadlier the sun is or his admission that religious conviction is often driven by which faith best fits your current needs, but the film is pretty much a one-time-only viewing for hardcore fans of the original. Where The Wicker Man haunted many who saw it for decades, this one is probably best forgotten. Still, at least it doesn't have Nic Cage in a bear suit punching women and screaming about bees...

Unlike most Anchor Bay DVDs there are at least some extras - a 12-minute making of featurette made up of very rough and jerky footage that looks like it's been downloaded off the internet, 9 deleted scenes and a surprisingly effective trailer - as well as a decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer
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on 12 April 2016
While no classic, this is a million times better than the Wicker Man remake.
The makes of the Wicker Man have succeeded in making an enjoyable film, but not really one that is a worthy sequel to their masterpiece.
I guess there is too much comedy for some, and some of that comedy will raise the "is that intentionally funny" question to some viewers.
Personally, I think on the whole, it is played tongue in cheek most of the time.
And it works best as a satire on religion and religious beliefs. But there are elements of folk horror later in the film which work equally as well.
The sex and nudity are tastefully handled and it's used to further the narrative and the scenery and some of the performances are excellent.
The extras contain a "making of" which is pretty throw away but worth a watch once and a number of deleted scenes - only one of which is worth a watch. Plus there's the usual, and completely unnecessary trailer.
I don't think this is to everyone's taste, so it's definitely a case of rent before you buy - unless it's dirt cheap.
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