If you’ve ever seen the 1973 film The Wicker Man, the one thing that stays with you longer than the images of beheadings, human sacrifice, and naked pagan princesses is the music. Part British folk extravaganza, part island minstrel show, it’s one of the few original scores where each song can exist on its own without any visual guide. It’s as creepy as it is enchanting.
The film is about a Christian policeman who travels to a small island to investigate the murder of a local girl. From there, it’s all sexy pagans and grown men in animal masks. The movie was so plagued by the censors that rumors have never really ceased about reported “lost” scenes. As a result, in the nearly thirty years since the movie’s release, a fan base of film geeks and forest Goths has clamored to see every last bit that might have hit the cutting-room floor.
For years, the only available soundtrack has been a mono import taken directly from the severely edited version of the film. Now the masters have been dug up and Paul Giovanni’s score can be heard in crystal-clear stereo domestically. What an amazing difference. Not only do you get previously unheard songs (like the beautiful “Gently Johnny”), but you get a slew of bonus tracks from the film, all rich with that same strange energy that the film captures. If the idea of people gathering at Stonehenge still creeps you out, then this post-hippie slice of concertina and Bulgarian-folk-song madness should be at full volume next All Hallows Eve.