In Review: The Wicker Man: The Official Story of the Film

The definitive guide to the making of the landmark horror movie The Wicker Man

Description: The definitive guide to the making of the landmark horror movie The Wicker Man, lavishly illustrated and packed with insights into this classic chiller.



Award-winning filmmaker John Walsh returns to the Studio Canal Archives for another book that dives into the making of a popular and iconic film. This time out John takes on the classic folk horror movie ‘The Wicker Man.’ Made in 1973 when I was a three-year-old terror.  The Wicker Man was a film that saw a particularly bumpy developmental journey and it wasn’t a main feature in its day. But a backup feature for ‘Don’t Look Now’. However despite its humble beginnings ‘The Wicker Man’ would go on to not only launch a new subgenre in horror but would also become a cult favorite.

The film’s story focuses on Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) who arrives on the small Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the report of a missing child. A conservative Christian, the policeman observes the residents’ frivolous sexual displays and strange pagan rituals, particularly the temptations of Willow (Britt Ekland), daughter of the island magistrate, Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child.

Like with his previous books. ‘The Wicker Man: The Official Story of The Film’ features exclusive artworks, photos, and other materials from the developmental phase of the film. Once again John Structures the book in such a way that it mirrors the various production phases of the film. He starts it off with some great interviews with all the surviving cast and crew members of the film, who all offer brilliant insights about the development of the movie.


The Artwork



As always John has raided the Studio Canal archives and put together a fantastic collection of photos and promotional artworks from the film. The book’s cover art is fantastic and very much a tribute to the movie’s poster. It features an image of The Wicker Man, which we don’t see until the end of the movie. We also get photos of various documents from the film’s development as well as posters from other movies that got released through British Lion Films Ltd, which was a company that was very active in the world of British film from the 1960s through to the mid-70s. The book features photos of movie posters from The Wicker Man and Warlords from Atlantis to name just a couple of the movie posters featured in the chapter on British Lion.

Of course, we also have concept art from The Wicker Man as well as pictures of various other behind-the-scenes materials. John has access to over 900 photos and documents from the movie.


The Book & Its Contents

Among the highlights of this book is an interview with the film’s director Robin Hardy who talks about the struggle of getting the film made in a world where the odds were stacked very much against it. We also get a fascinating interview with David Pinner who talks about the ritual sacrifice featured in the film as well as various real-life Pagan practices that the film borrowed from and somewhat exaggerated for entertainment purposes.


“I don’t think that I could ever have hoped at the time we made it, in my wildest dreams, that we’d be sitting here now, discussing it in these terms.” Robin Hardy – Director of The Wicker Man


We also get great interviews with surviving cast members, which include Britt Ekland, who talks extensively about her role in the movie and the mixed feelings she had about it. Additionally, we get archive interviews with Edward Woodward who played the lead role, and Sir Christopher Lee.

Added to all of this is also a little bit of a guide that talks about the three different edits of the film and what the best one is to watch if you are watching the film for the first time.


Overall and Value For Money

The Wicker Man: The Official Story of the film is excellent value for money for all film aficionados out there, and is particularly good value if you are a fan of the horror genre in its various subgenres.

The book offers a fascinating insight into the journey that the filmmaker goes on when developing a project for the big screen. It also gives some historical context about the British Film Industry and how it was financed and the chapter about British Lion, which produced a varied mix of genre films ranging from drama to science fiction is a wonderful read. The interviews are fascinating and fun to read as they give an interesting view of what the film industry was like back in the 1970s and how things have changed.


If you are a fan of this film or are looking for a gift for the horror fan in your life. Then you can’t go far wrong by purchasing this book. As it will get picked up and put down often.

You can order your copy of The Wicker Man: The Official Story of The Film via Titan Books.

The Wicker Man: The Official Story of the Film
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Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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