The Wicker Man (1973, 15, Studio Canal-Warner, DVD/ Retail) Thirty years ago this cult fantasy-horror classic was butchered by the new bosses at British Lion and released in a double bill without a press show. What was a labour of love for director Robin Hardy, screenwriter Anthony Shaffer and stars Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward is now available on a two-disc DVD that includes the restored director's cut, the1973 release version, afascinating documentary on its chequered history and a running commentary by Lee, Woodward and Hardy. Woodward, who plays a virginal cop lured to a remote Scottish island for its May Day festivities, and Lee, the laird of a community of cheerful pagans, regard this flawed masterwork as the peak of their movie careers, and Lee never got a penny for it. The final sequence is among the most unforgettable in European cinema.
One morning in 1973, Christopher Lee requested a pre-release showing of his latest film. 'What do you think of it?' asked Michael Deeley, British Lion's managing director. 'It's an extraordinary movie,' Lee enthused. He never forgot Deeley's reply. 'He just looked at me and said, 'I think it's one of the 10 worst films I've ever seen'.' Lee was gobsmacked.