Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man is the most celebrated British horror of all time – and for many fans, can never be equalled. So, when Hardy decided to film his 2006 novel Cowboys for Christ, which treads very much the same pagan path as the original cult classic, many fans and critics thought it sacrosanct to do so. Neither sequel nor remake, Hardy’s The Wicker Tree is very much its own little beastie and gets its UK Premiere on The Horror Channel tonight at 9pm.
Gospel singer Beth (Brittania Nichol) and her cowboy boyfriend Steve (Peaky Blinders‘ Henry Garrett) head out of Texas to spread the word of the Lord in ‘godless’ Scotland. But the chaste singer and her fiancé are unaware that their purity makes them the perfect candidates for an ancient rite. The local laird (The Hobbitt‘s Graham McTavish) has hatched a plan to offer them up as a sacrifice to a pagan god in a bid to make the local population fertile again (an accident at a nuclear power plant has left everyone barren). But, as the May Day celebrations get under way, will the couple finally twig that they’re not just singing for their supper, they’re going to be supper as well?
Blackly comic, with a host of fabulously eccentric characters, The Wicker Tree is a keenly observed satire that belongs to a different time – in many ways it strongly resembles Lindsay Anderson’s underrated Brittania Hospital. This companion piece to Hardy’s pagan original may not be to every fan/critics taste, but it’s so curiously quirky and deftly-written that it definitely deserves another go. Original star Christopher Lee pops up as an old gentleman.
The Wicker Tree is also available to stream on YouTube from Starzmediavod.