In 1973, The Wicker Man, a quirky British horror film directed by Robin Hardy, and starring Hammer Studios mainstays Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt, along with Edward Woodward, Britt Eklund, and Diane Cilento, had an all-too-brief theatrical run in the UK and US too.  Mishandled by its own production company, British Lion Films, both in terms of the film’s formal censorship and its botched distribution, The Wicker Man largely disappeared into oblivion.

Public Domain.

An 18th century illustration of a wicker man. (Public domain image courtesy Wikipedia.

Anthony Shaffer‘s ingenious screenplay depicts the cat-and-mouse games that pit a devout Christian police officer against a village of Celtic pagans along the remote west coast of Scotland. Searching for a reportedly missing girl, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodard, the future star of TV’s The Equalizer) is mortified to learn of the “heathen” practices of Summerisle’s residents, which includes public nudity and fornication, tree worship, and other strange rituals.

Timed to coincide with the recent Summer Solstice celebration, today’s broadcast of “The Freak Power Ticket” will honor this singular “cult” film, which reemerged from obscurity in the late 1970s largely due to a special commemorative edition of the horror, fantasy, and science-fiction magazine Cinefantastique, which called The Wicker Man “the Citizen Kane of horror movies.”

Today’s program will mix a recorded conversation with cinema scholar Bruce Hallenbeck (an expert on mid-20th century British horror) into a playlist that also features trailers and dialogue samples, Paul Giovanni‘s boldly original musical score, source material, contemporary covers, tribute songs, and more. A key focus will be the influence of this special film, which also includes a remake, a spiritual sequel, and links to the popular Burning Man festival.


“The Freak Power Ticket” will air on Mondays in the summer from 11am-1pm.