Picks and Pans Review: The Wicker Man

updated 04/28/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/28/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

This is an eerie basket case of a British movie about a sex-obsessed religious cult on an island off Scotland. Produced in 1973, it's only now being released in the U.S., presumably to exploit the new notoriety of Britt Ekland. She is pleasant enough in a peripheral role, even if her brogue is less convincing than her nude seduction dance. More important, though, is the seducee, a straitlaced cop searching for a missing girl; he's played with wide-eyed zeal by British TV star Edward Woodward. And Christopher Lee, in one of his sardonic villains-will-be-villains performances, is the island's high priest and orchard owner. That business enables Woodward to say, "Killing me won't make your apples grow," an example of the strange wit that makes this perverse, sometimes perverted film intriguing. The script is by Anthony Shaffer, who, with previous credits like Sleuth and Hitchcock's Frenzy, obviously knows his apples. (R)

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