[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ollowing a worldwide hunt, an elusive original print of cult horror film The Wicker Man has been discovered by StudioCanal, and will be restored and released in cinemas this September. The good news was announced by the film’s director Robin Hardy via Facebook:
“StudioCanal contacted me last year in their search for the original materials that have been missing,” Hardy revealed. “I’m very pleased to announce that StudioCanal have been able to find an actual print of The Wicker Man, which is based on my original cut working with Abraxas, the American distributors, all those years ago.
“They plan, and this is the exciting bit, to actually release it. This version has never been restored before, has never been shown in UK theatres before, has never been converted to Blu-ray before. This version will – optimistically – be known as the Final Cut.”
Obsessive Wicker Man fans, or Wickerheads as we they call themselves, are sure to be already donning their creepy animal masks and firing up their Zippo lighters in anticipation of clapping their peepers on Robin Hardy’s fully restored ‘final cut’ of the classic seventies horror.
The Wicker Man, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year, has a pretty chequered history when it comes to edits, re-edits, and downright mysterious goings-on. The film was cut by 14 minutes for its original release (although it is now possible to view it on DVD with the extra bits shoved back in), and the original negatives went missing from Shepperton Studios – rumour has it they were used as landfill during the building of the M4 motorway. The film was also quite poorly received upon its release, although it later attained cult status. All of which has made for a very strange and frustrating creative journey for everyone involved, including star Christopher Lee, who has been particularly vocal in the past concerning his displeasure at the treatment of the film.
After the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man (starring Nicholas ‘Not the Bees!’ Cage) was received with about the same amount of pleasure as a poke in the eye with a bent stick, the news that fans will actually have the opportunity to view a restored original cut of the first film in cinemas is a definite cause for joy.
So break out your robes, polish your apples and bone up on your basket weaving skills, because The Wicker Man: The Final Cut will be landing on a UK cinema screen near you on September 27, and DVD and Blu-ray on October 14.