Robin Hardy’s bizarre 1973 cult classic is the oddest of the ‘Summer of British Film’ weekly reissues. Set on the Western Isles of Scotland, it poses a burning question for investigating mainland Sergeant Edward Woodward: could a missing 12-year-old girl have been sacrificed in some creepy, ancient fertility rite by the libidinous, pre-feudal inhabitants? Anthony Shaffer’s script – written at the end of an annus mirabilis in which he also wrote ‘Sleuth’ and ‘Frenzy’ – brews together a heady concoction of police procedural and post-Hammer horror with a pagan pastiche of counter-cultural faddishness, with scenes of dancing naked pregnant women in stone circles or a ranting, windswept Christopher Lee in drag beautifully filmed by Harry Waxman and accompanied by Paul Giovanni’s risible ’60s-style folk revival soundtrack. Essentially, it’s an insane guilty pleasure, still enjoyable for its delightfully eccentric casting – Britt Ekland’s fine Scottish accent and Hammer star Ingrid Pitt’s dour librarian – and for the funniest, creepiest pub scene in British movies outside of next week’s reissue, ‘Withnail & I’.
Friday August 24 2007
Cast and crew
Edward Woodward Britt Ekland Diane Cilento Ingrid Pitt Christopher Lee Lesley Mackie Walter Carr Lindsay Kemp