By Dr. Zaius
Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 at 11:00 am
1973 was a banner year for the horror genre. The Exorcist shocked audiences the world over receiving ten Academy Award nominations and winning two Oscars. But what if I told you that The Exorcist wasn’t the best horror movie of 1973? That honor, in this critic’s opinion belongs to The Wicker Man. Starring Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward and Britt Ekland, The Wicker Man is regarded as one of the greatest horror films in history. Its director Robin Hardy passed away Friday, July 1st at the age of 86.
Born in Surrey, England on October 2nd, 1929, Robin Hardy would go on to direct only three films in his career. After The Wicker Man, he wrote and directed The Fantasist in 1986 and a sequel to Wicker Man, The Wicker Tree in 2011. In memory of the late great Christopher Lee, Hardy had planned a third Wicker Man film. Despite the small filmography, Hardy left an everlasting legacy. British newspaper, The Guardian ranked The Wicker Man the 4th best horror film of all-time in 2010. It’s widely known that Christopher Lee, the actor with 278 (!) IMDB credits, said that Hardy’s The Wicker Man was his greatest role. In the film Lee portrayed Lord Summerisle, the head of a mysterious Pagan island off England, who hosts Edward Woodward’s Detective Howie, there looking for a missing girl. Howie is a devout Christian and much of the horror and tension built throughout comes from the conflict in ideologies between the leads.
The cause of death is unknown for now, though a family friend reported the director’s death on Friday. Hardy’s work lives on in those he inspired. Director Edgar Wright tweeted that The Wicker Man was heavily influential in his 2007 film Hot Fuzz, which featured Edward Woodward. The Wicker Man is available on Amazon. And on a personal note, without knowledge of his passing, I wore my Wicker Man t-shirt to Heroes & Villains Fan Fest yesterday, perhaps an unconscious tribute.
RIP Robin Hardy: October 2, 1929 – July 1, 2016.
The Wicker Man (1973) Official Trailer – Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento