Crazy Leader: Lord Summerisle
Not too many people are lukewarm about the original Wicker Man. Most of those who have seen the 1973 cult classic either revere it as a truly creepy exploration of faith and violence, or dismiss it as 83 minutes of boredom with five minutes of predictable “horror” slapped on at the end. (No such schism exists over the 2006 remake starring Nicolas Cage — everybody hates that one. ) But even the original movie’s detractors can agree that Christopher Lee’s portrayal of the Medusa-haired leader of the pagan island community is among his very best — and that’s saying something, considering Sir Christopher has appeared in nearly 300 movies. At the end of the film, as Lord Summerisle leads his pale, windswept flock of loons in the most terrifying rendition of the medieval song, “Sumer Is Icumen In,” that any of us will ever hear (god willing), Lee seems not so much to be acting the part as inhabiting the body and soul of a true believer caught in the throes of pantheistic ecstasy. That’s entertainment!