Why Christopher Lee Wasn’t Paid For 1973’s The Wicker Man

In a making-of documentary included in the home video release of The Wicker Man, Christopher Lee says that being in the film was a labor of love. He notes that The Wicker Man was his favorite film that he had starred in because it was more intelligent than most horror; it was actually about something substantial. The Wicker Man focuses on the idea of sacrifice, as well as the conflict between the practices of paganism and the modern practices of Christianity. These themes are much more philosophical than those of most monster movies of the time. There are no otherworldly spirits or supernatural forces present in The Wicker Man; all the horror is derived from the cultish community led by the charming Lord Summerisle, who seeks only to serve his people, no matter what the cost.

Despite The Wicker Man‘s subversive folklore, it was not an immediate success. Due to a changeover in British Lion Films management, the movie had a disastrous editing and distribution process. Much of its original footage, as well as the original cut of The Wicker Man, has been lost, and Lee says its continuity is not as effective as a result. Still, Lee’s interest paid off, as The Wicker Man has since become one of the most celebrated films in the horror genre. A number of modern horror films, including Kill List, Apostle, and Midsommar (not to mention the 2006 Wicker Man remake with Nicolas Cage), are heavily influenced by The Wicker Man’s folk horror aesthetic as well as its focus on cult sacrifice. None of these fantastic horror films would exist without Christopher Lee’s love for The Wicker Man inspiring him to work for free.


More information about Why Christopher Lee Wasn’t Paid For 1973’s The Wicker Man

In a making-of documentary included in the home video release of The Wicker Man, Christopher Lee says that being in the film was a labor of love. He notes that The Wicker Man was his favorite film that he had starred in because it was more intelligent than most horror; it was actually about something substantial. The Wicker Man focuses on the idea of sacrifice, as well as the conflict between the practices of paganism and the modern practices of Christianity. These themes are much more philosophical than those of most monster movies of the time. There are no otherworldly spirits or supernatural forces present in The Wicker Man; all the horror is derived from the cultish community led by the charming Lord Summerisle, who seeks only to serve his people, no matter what the cost.

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Despite The Wicker Man‘s subversive folklore, it was not an immediate success. Due to a changeover in British Lion Films management, the movie had a disastrous editing and distribution process. Much of its original footage, as well as the original cut of The Wicker Man, has been lost, and Lee says its continuity is not as effective as a result. Still, Lee’s interest paid off, as The Wicker Man has since become one of the most celebrated films in the horror genre. A number of modern horror films, including Kill List, Apostle, and Midsommar (not to mention the 2006 Wicker Man remake with Nicolas Cage), are heavily influenced by The Wicker Man’s folk horror aesthetic as well as its focus on cult sacrifice. None of these fantastic horror films would exist without Christopher Lee’s love for The Wicker Man inspiring him to work for free.

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