Crazy pagan dancing, a smattering of nudity, a great folky soundtrack and Christopher Lee in drag combine to make this 1973 chiller a cult classic. It’s essential Halloween viewing and makes the abysmal 2006 remake look about as scary as a salad.
When Sergeant Howie, a devoutly Christian policeman (Edward Woodward), travels to a small Scottish island to trace a missing schoolgirl, he uncovers ungodly rituals, loony locals and a beach-side barbecue that he’d rather not attend. The sizzling finale remains one of the most disturbing sequences on film.
You can follow in Howie’s timorous footsteps on a tour of these top Wicker Man locations:
Plockton, Wester Ross, Scotland
Sergeant Howie’s seaplane is shown touching down in the harbour at Plockton, a picturesque village in the North West Highlands of Scotland. It’s a beautiful spot with sea lochs, wild scenery and a colony of seals.
Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Pronounced kirr-koo-bree, this artists’ enclave in Dumfries and Galloway provided several exterior locations for the Wicker Man which you can easily recognise today. The High Street Gallery, High Street, became May Morrison’s (Irene Sunter) post office and sweetshop, where Sergeant Howie begins his search for the elusive Rowan (Geraldine Cowper). The bakery is the Harbour Cottage Gallery, Castlebank, off Harbour Square.
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland
Culzean Castle, a fairy-tale Robert Adam mansion, southwest of Ayr, is the exterior of Lord Summerisle’s (Christopher Lee) mansion. It’s open to the public from the end of March to the end of October.
St Ninian’s Cave, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Howie discovers Rowan alive and well at St Ninian’s Cave just before the film’s grisly climax. Christians believe St Ninian, the cleric who first converted the Scots to Christianity, landed here in the eighth century. Ancient crosses carved into the rock bear witness to the site’s holy pedigree.
Burrowhead, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
The eponymous Wicker Man was built on the cliffs at Burrowhead. Over the years souvenir hunters dismembered the remains of the prop (one of two made for the shoot) leaving only its legs. Sadly, even these were removed by vandals in 2006. Now all you’ll see are two sad looking stumps.