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“Written as a melodrama, shot as a musical by the director, and won the science fiction award of the year.” This is the confounding summary of The Wicker Man, the British cult classic that has inspired multiple generations of horror and mystery filmmakers and took the ‘outsider-enters-a-small-town-with-strange-goings-on’ to horrifying extremes in ways that reminded us “shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent.”
A Mark Kermode-hosted, behind-the-scenes documentary from 2001 has now surfaced that dives into the making of the beloved cult classic, with eerie footage of locations and a multitude of retrospective interviews from cast and crew, and pre-production photos and videos, including iconic imagery of the wicker man himself.
Titled Burnt Offering: The Cult of the Wicker Man, the special gives insight into how some of The Wicker Man’s chilling choices were made, including scraping the idea for a face on the titular, massive figure »
- Mike Mazzanti
Rob Leane Jul 15, 2016
British crowdfunded films that sound brilliant, including a Ghostbusters documentary and loads of horror...
It's not easy to get an indie film made these days. Especially not through studios and traditional financial methods. That's why, all around the globe, crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter are becoming more and more popular among first-time/early career filmmakers.
We perused crowdfunding websites, and found loads of in-development British films that sound really interesting. Aiming to shed some light on these films that don't have the might of a major studio's marketing team behind them, here's our list of 25 upcoming British movies that have been crowdfunded, and could turn out to be brilliant...
Harvey Eaton has been working in the advertising sector of filmmaking for years, and even directed legendary Spanish footballer Andrés Iniesta for a Powerade commercial once.
Black Wolf - a "short film about a woman terrorised by »
Director of the eerily unsettling horror film The Wicker Man
The director Robin Hardy, who has died aged 86, made only one film of note. But as this was The Wicker Man (1973), which terrified audiences without showing so much as a drop of blood being spilt, his place in British cinema history was always going to be assured. It tells the story of a puritanical Christian policeman (Edward Woodward) who visits an island off the coast of Scotland after reports that a young girl has gone missing. He is shocked to find his investigation impeded by the community, which is steeped in rituals and paganism. The chilling purpose of their secrecy is finally revealed in one of the great twist endings of all time.
Even before that pay-off, Hardy had sustained expertly an atmosphere of unsettling eeriness, in which the root of the unease could never quite be pinpointed. Count Dracula himself, »
- Ryan Gilbey
Robin Hardy, the filmmaker who brought us The Wicker Man has died at the age of 86. Hardy only directed three movies during his career, but The Wicker Man, his debut, is one of the most regarded and impactful of the last 50 years.
The Wicker Man starred Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee and revolved around a police sergeant who is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed.
Hardy followed up The Wicker Man with The Fantasist in 1986, thirteen years after the release of his groundbreaking masterpiece, and then made The Wicker Tree in 2011. He intended to follow-up that movie with a third film in the ‘Wicker’ series as a tribute to the late, great Christopher Lee.
Rest in piece Robin, and thank you for the movies. »
- Paul Heath
Simon Brew Jul 3, 2016
Film director Robin Hardy has died at the age of 86, it's been confirmed. Hardy may have only made three feature films across his career (he was a novelist too), but heck, one of them was really something incredibly special.
For Hardy made his directorial debut with 1973's The Wicker Man, the hugely influential horror that's regarded by many as one of the best in the genre of all time (Sir Christopher Lee called it his favourite of all the films he made). Hardy would, in 2011, direct The Wicker Tree, and had plans to make a third movie in the series, as a tribute to Sir Christopher Lee.
Hardy also helmed The Fantasist in 1986, that he also wrote.
“Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man”.
Christopher Lee claimed The Wicker Man (1973) was the greatest film he was ever part of. For good reasons, as this is one of the most unusual and original cinematic masterpieces ever brought to screen and an absolute must-see for everybody interested in movies. The unique greatness of The Wicker Man combines elements from a variety of genres; Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, Drama, and even Musical, but it cannot really be limited to one particular genre. Scottish police sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is called by an anonymous letter to investigate the disappearance of a young girl on the remote Scottish island Summerisle. Upon his arrival, nobody seems to have ever heard of the girl. The deeply religious Sergeant Howie, however, is shocked to find out that the residents of the island, above all the sophisticated but mysterious Lord Summerisle »
- Tom Stockman
Robin Hardy, English author and film director best known for helming the classic 1973 suspense horror film The Wicker Man died on July 1, friends confirmed. He was 86. The BBC first reported the news. A native of Surrey, Hardy’s career as a director was kicked off in Canada and the United States in the 1960s with episodes of the cultural omnibus television show Esso World Theater. From there, he staked out a career making commercials and educational films. Hardy made his… »
British filmmaker passes away at 86. The BBC reported today that British filmmaker Robin Hardy has passed away at the age of 86. Hardy, of course, helmed one of the greatest films – not just horror films, films period – of all time, 1973’s unforgettable folk-terror morality tale The Wicker Man, a picture that has…
- Chris Alexander
Born in Surrey, England in 1929, Hardy began his career as a director with the National Film Board of Canada before making his feature debut with The Wicker Man, which starred Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward and has went on to become one of the most celebrated British films of all time.
Following The Wicker Man, Hardy made just two more features: the 1986 thriller The Fantasist, and 2011’s Wicker Man companion piece The Wicker Tree, and for the past couple of years he had also been trying to get another follow-up, Wrath of the Gods, off the ground. Sadly that will now never see the light of day.
- Gary Collinson
Hardy made his feature film directorial debut on the 1973 horror mystery about a sergeant named Howie (Edward Woodward) who goes to the fictional island Summerisle to search for a missing girl.
Source: Variety »
- Garth Franklin
He died on Friday, his wife, Victoria, confirmed in a Facebook post.
“The Wicker Man” was Hardy’s feature film directorial debut, and one of only three that he would direct during his lifetime. The 1973 horror mystery tells the story of a police sergeant named Howie (Edward Woodward) who goes to the fictional island Summerisle to search for a missing girl. Christopher Lee and Diane Cilento also star.
Hardy would go on to write and direct the follow-up, “The Wicker Tree” which was released in 2011. Before that, we also directed the 1986 thriller “The Fantasist” and wrote the screenplay for the 1989 mystery “Forbidden Sun.”
In Variety‘s review of the 1973 film, the critic wrote, “… for sheer imagination and near-terror, [“The Wicker Man”] has seldom been equalled. In 2015, Hardy said he planned to make a third “Wicker Man” film as a tribute to its star, »
- Seth Kelley
Robin Hardy, whose directed the 1973 British cult classic “The Wicker Man,” died on Friday at the age of 86, the BBC reports. “The Wicker Man” was Hardy’s directorial debut, and starred an already established Christopher Lee. Many years later, the legendary actor would recall it as the best of the more than 200 films in which he starred. A 2006 remake starring Nicolas Cage failed to garner the creative and visual praise as Hardy’s original. Also Read: Christopher Lee, 'Count Dracula' and 'Lord of the Rings' Star, Dead at 93 In 2011, Hardy made a sequel to “Man” called “The Wicker Tree »
- Lawrence Yee
Robin Hardy, director of one of the all time great horror films, The Wicker Man has passed on at the age of 86. Born in Surrey, England, Hardy started his career with the National Film Board of Canada, before going on to direct many TV commercials in the UK. At the request of Peter Snell's British Lion Productions, he came on board to direct the 1973 film which starred Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. Notably, before his own recent passing, Lee described The Wicker Man (known in much of Europe as The Wickerman) as the best film he was ever involved in - this from a man with nearly 300 film and TV credits including many entries in the Hammer Films oeuvre, The Lord of...
[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...] »
Some very upsetting news is coming out of the UK this morning, revealing that Robin Hardy, best known as the director of 1973's The Wicker Man, has passed away. This was originally reported by BBC, who received word from a friend of the family that Hardy had died on Friday.
Robin Hardy released a spiritual successor to The Wicker Man back in 2011 and he had been in development on a third "Wicker" film that he teased would focus on "the gods getting their comeuppance." The Wicker Man, which Christopher Lee previously said is one of his favorite movies he performed in, is a personal favorite of mine and its importance in horror history and influence on the genre cannot be understated. Just to name a few, it's easy to see the film's influence on Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz, Ben Wheatley's Kill List, True Detective, and Radiohead's recent Burn The Witch video. »
- Jonathan James
Robin Hardy, the British director of cult film The Wicker Man, has died, the BBC reports. A family friend confirmed to the news outlet on Saturday that Hardy had died Friday. He was 86 years old. The Wicker Man, the 1973 horror-fantasy-comedy film that marked Hardy's directorial debut, has amassed a significant cult following since its release, inspiring a Nicolas Cage-led 2006 remake and a 2011 sequel of sorts, The Wicker Tree, written and directed by Hardy. Christopher Lee, who starred in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars films, wrote in his autobiography that The Wicker Man was "the best-scripted film I ever took part in. »
- Andrea Park, @scandreapark
Robin Hardy, the director who helmed the cult British film The Wicker Man, has died, BBC reports. He was 86. Hardy died Friday, a family friend told the BBC. The University of Malta also announced the news in a Facebook post. Starring Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward and Diane Cilento, mystery film The Wicker Man told the story of a police sergeant who is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl that the townspeople claim never existed. The English director went on to make a follow-up film, The Wicker Tree, in 2011, that was based
- Natalie Stone, Mike Barnes
Robin Hardy at The Garrison Theatre, Lerwick, Shetland Photo: Shetland Arts
Robin Hardy, director of celebrated classic The Wicker Man, has died at the age of 86, it was announced today by the University of Malta, where he contributed to a film studies course. Hardy had completed a sequel to his opus, The Wicker Tree, in 2012, and had been trying to raise funds to film a third part of the trilogy, The Wrath Of The Gods, set in Iceland which, as he told us, is "where we all know the gods live."
The Wicker Man was recently restored and introduced to a new generation in an expansive DVD box set which included material long thought to have been lost. The late Christopher Lee credited Hardy and the film with giving him his greatest ever role.
An author as well as a filmmaker, Hardy produced relatively few works but put his heart and soul into each of. »
- Jennie Kermode
Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, ABC Family and the “executive producers” of Once Upon A Time decided to launch a summer camp-themed horror TV series this year, called Dead of Summer. The series premiered last night and the first episode is available on Hulu or you can watch it at their official site, which you’ll notice that they’ve got next week’s episode already available? But regardless, instead of watching those episodes, you can read my Angry Recap, because ABC Family has absolutely no place making this show.
Intro: Tony Todd playing a creepy melody the piano. I mean, if you’ve got Tony Todd to be in your family-oriented horror TV show, why use any restraint? Also, props to his character for dragging a piano all the way out to his secluded cabin in the woods.
Angry dudes with torches and Winchester rifles! They’re after Tony Todd but, »
- Chris Melkus
They’ve made some of the best thrillers of the past six years. We list some of the best modern thriller directors currently working...
Director Guillermo del Toro once described suspense as being about the withholding of information: either a character knows something the audience doesn’t know, or the audience knows something the character doesn’t. That’s a deliciously simple way of describing something that some filmmakers often find difficult to achieve: keeping viewers on the edges of their seats.
The best thrillers leave us scanning the screen with anticipation. They invite us to guess what happens next, but then delight in thwarting expectations. We can all name the great thriller filmmakers of the past - Alfred Hitchcock, Carol Reed, Brian De Palma - but what about the current crop of directors? Here’s our pick of the filmmakers who’ve made some great modern thrillers over the past six years - that is, between the year 2010 and the present.
To think there was once a time when Jeremy Saulnier was seriously quitting the film business.
“To be honest," Saulner told us back in 2014, “Macon and I had really given up on our quest to break into the industry and become legitimate filmmakers. So what we were trying to do with Blue Ruin was archive our 20 year arc and bring it to a close. Really just revisit our stomping grounds and use locations that were near and dear to us and build a narrative out of that.”
Maybe this personal touch explains at least partly why Blue Ruin wound up getting so much attention in Cannes in 2013, signalling not the end of Saulnier and his star Macon Blair’s career, but a brand new chapter. But then again, there’s more than just hand-crafted intimacy in Saulnier’s revenge tale; there’s also its lean, minimal storytelling and the brilliance of its characterisation. Blue Ruin is such an effective thriller because its protagonist is so atypical: sad-eyed, inexperienced with guns, somewhat soft around the edges, Macon Blair’s central character is far from your typical righteous avenger.
Green Room, which emerged in the UK this year, explores a similar clash between very ordinary people and extraordinary violence. A young punk band shout about anarchy and aggression on stage, but they quickly find themselves out of their depth when they’re cornered by a group of bloodthirsty neo-Nazis. In Saulnier’s films, grubby, unseemly locations are matched by often beautiful locked-off shots. Familiar thriller trappings are contrasted by twists of fortune that are often shocking.
Here’s one of those directors who can pack an overwhelming sense of dread in a single image: in Sicario, his searing drug-war thriller from last year, it was the sight of tiny specks of dust falling in the light scything through a window. That single shot proved to be the calm before the storm, as Villeneuve unleashed a salvo of blood-curdling events: an attempted FBI raid on a building gone horribly awry. And this, I think, is the brilliance of Villeneuve’s direction, and why he’s so good at directing thrillers like Sicario or 2013’s superb Prisoners - he understands the rhythm of storytelling, and how scenes of quiet can generate almost unbearable tension.
Another case in point: the highway sequence in Sicario, where Emily Blunt’s FBI agent is stuck in a traffic jam outside one of the most violent cities in the world. Villeneueve makes us feel the stifling heat and the claustrophobia; something nasty’s going to happen, we know that - but it’s the sense of anticipation which makes for such an unforgettable scene.
Prisoners hews closely to the template of a modern mystery thriller, but it’s once again enriched by Villeneuve’s expert pacing and the performances he gets out of his actors. Hugh Jackman’s seldom been better as a father on the hunt for his missing child, while Jake Gyllenhaal mesmerises as a cop scarred by his own private traumas.
Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin may be the most effective psychological thriller of recent years. About the difficult relationship between a mother (Tilda Swinton) and her distant, possibly sociopathic son (Ezra Miller), Ramsay’s film is masterfully told from beginning to end - which is impressive, given that the source novel by Lionel Shriver is told via a series of letters. Ramsay takes the raw material from the book and crafts something cinematic and highly disturbing: a study of guilt, sorrow and recrimination. Tension bubbles even in casual conversations around the dinner table. Miller is an eerie, cold-eyed blank. Swinton is peerless. One scene, in which Swinton’s mother comes home in the dead of night, is unforgettable. Here’s hoping Ramsay returns with another feature film very soon.
Morten Tyldum - Headhunters
All kinds of thrillers have emerged from Scandinavia over the past few years, whether on the large or small screen or in book form. Morten Tyldum’s Headhunters is among the very best of them. The fast-paced and deliriously funny story of an art thief who steals a painting from the wrong guy, Headhunters launched Tyldum on an international stage - Alan Turing drama The Imitation Game followed, and the Sony sci-fi film Passengers is up next. It isn’t hard to see why, either: Headhunters shows off Tyldum’s mastery of pace and tone, as his pulp tale hurtles from intense chase scenes to laugh-out-loud black comedy.
Granted, Joel Edgerton’s better known as an actor, having turned in some superb performances in the likes of Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty and Warror. But with a single film - The Gift, which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in - Edgerton established himself as a thriller filmmaker of real promise. About a successful, happily married couple whose lives are greatly affected by an old face from the husband’s past, The Gift is an engrossing, unsettling movie with superb performances from Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as well as Edgerton.
A riff on the ‘killer in our midst’ thrillers of the 80s and 90s - The Stepfather, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and so on - The Gift is all the more effective because of its restraint. We’re never quite sure who the villain of the piece is, at least at first - and Edgerton’s use of the camera leaves us wrong-footed at every turn. The world arguably needs more thrillers from Joel Edgerton.
If you haven’t seen The Gift yet, we’d urge you to track it down.
David Michod - Animal Kingdom
The criminals at play in this true-life crime thriller are all the more chilling because they’re so mundane - a bunch of low-level thieves, murderers and gangsters who prowl around the rougher parts of Melbourne, Australia. Writer-director David Michod spent years developing Animal Kingdom, and it was worth the effort: it’s an intense, engrossing film, for sure, but it’s also a believable glimpse of the worst of human nature. Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver play villains of different kinds; the latter a manipulative grandmother who looks over her brood of criminals, the former a spiteful thief. Crafting moments of incredible tension from simple exchanges, Michod launched himself as a formidable talent with this feature debut.
Affleck’s period drama-thriller Argo won all kinds of awards, but we’d argue his earlier thrillers were equally well made. Gone Baby Gone was a confident debut and an economical adaptation of Dennis LeHane’s novel. The Town, released in 2010, was a heist thriller that made the most of its Boston setting. One of its key scenes - a bank robbery in which the thieves wear a range of bizarre outfits, including a nun’s habit - is masterfully staged. With Affleck capable of teasing out great performances from his actors and staging effective set-pieces, it’s hardly surprising he’s so heavily involved in making at least one Batman movie for Warner - as well as playing the hero behind the mask.
The quiet, almost meditative tone of Anton Corbijn’s movies mean they aren’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, but they’re visually arresting and almost seductive in their rhythm and attention to detail. Already a celebrated photographer, Corbijn successfully crossed over into filmmaking with Control, an exquisitely-made drama about Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis. Corbijn took a markedly different direction with The American, a thriller about an ageing contract killer (George Clooney) who hides out in a small Italian town west of Rome. Inevitably, trouble eventually comes calling.
Corbijn’s direction remains gripping because he doesn’t give us huge action scenes to puncture the tension. We can sense the capacity for violence coiled up beneath the hitman’s calm exterior, and Corbijn makes sure we only see rare flashes of that toughness - right up until the superbly-staged climax.
A Most Wanted Man, based on the novel by John le Carre, is a similarly astute study of an isolated yet fascinating character - in this instance, the world-weary German intelligence agent Gunther Bachmann, brilliantly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Tragically, the film proved to be one of the last before Hoffman’s death in 2014.
Mention Greengrass’ name, and the director’s frequent use of handheld cameras might immediately spring to mind. But time and again, Greengrass has proved a master of his own personal approach - you only have to look at the muddled, migraine-inducing films of his imitators to see how good a director Greengrass is. Part of the filmmakers’ visual language rather than a gimmick, Greengrass’ camera placement puts the viewer in the middle of the story, whether it’s an amnesiac agent on the run (his Bourne films) or on a hijacked aircraft (the harrowing United 93). While not a huge hit, Green Zone was an intense and intelligent thriller set in occupied Iraq. The acclaimed Captain Phillips, meanwhile, was a perfect showcase for Greengrass’ ability to fuse realism and suspense; the true story of a merchant vessel hijacked by Somali pirates, it is, to quote Greengrass himself, “a contemporary crime story.”
We can’t help thinking that, with a better marketing push behind it, Triple 9 could have been a much bigger hit when it appeared in cinemas earlier this year. It has a great cast - Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Anthony Mackie and Aaron Paul as a group of seasoned thieves, Kate Winslet cast against type as a gangland boss - and its heist plot rattles along like an express train.
Hillcoat seems to have the western genre pulsing through his veins, and he excels at creating worlds that are desolate and all-enveloping, whether his subjects are period pieces (The Proposition, Lawless) or post-apocalyptic dramas (The Road). Triple 9 sees Hillcoat make an urban western that is both classic noir and entirely contemporary; his use of real cops and residents around the film’s Atlanta location give his heightened story a grounding that is believable in the moment. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the scene in which Casey Affleck’s cop breaches a building while hunkered down behind a bullet-proof shield. Hillcoat places us right there in the scene with Affleck and the cops sneaking into the building behind him; we sense the claustrophobia and vulnerability.
Hillcoat explained to us in February that this sequence wasn’t initially written this way in the original script; it changed when the director and his team discovered how real-world cops protect themselves in real-world situations. In Triple 9, research and great filmmaking combine to make an unforgettably intense thriller.
Jim Mickel - Cold In July
Seemingly inspired by such neo-Noir thrillers as Red Rock West and Blood Simple, 2014‘s Cold In July is a genre gem from director Jim Mickle (Stake Land, We Are What We Are). Michael C Hall plays an ordinary guy in 80s America who shoots an intruder who breaks into his home, and becomes drawn into a moody conspiracy that takes in crooked cops, porn and a private eye (who's also keen pig-rearer) played by Don Johnson. Constantly shifting between tones, Mickel’s thriller refuses to stick to genre expectations. In one scene, after Hall shoots the burglar dead, Mickel’s camera lingers over the protagonist as he cleans up the blood and glass. It’s touches like these that make Cold In July far more than a typical thriller.
Mickel’s teaming up with Sylvester Stallone next; we’re intrigued to see what that partnership produces.
As a filmmaker, Scorsese needs no introduction. As a director of thrillers, he’s in a class of his own: from Taxi Driver via the febrile remake of Cape Fear to the sorely underrated Bringing Out The Dead, his films are full of suspense and the threat of violence. Shutter Island, based on the Dennis LeHane novel of the same name, saw Scorsese plunge eagerly into neo-noir territory. A murder mystery set in a mental institution on the titular Shutter Island, its atmosphere is thick with menace. Like a combination of Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man and Adrian Lyne’s cult classic Jacob’s Ladder, Shutter Island’s one of those stories where we never know who we can trust - even the protagonist, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
After the trial by fire that was Alien 3, David Fincher found his footing in the 90s with such hits as Seven and The Game. In an era where thrillers were in much greater abundance, from the middling to the very good, Seven in particular stood out as a genre classic: smartly written, disturbing, repulsive and yet captivating to look at all at once. Fincher’s affinity for weaving atmospheric thrillers continued into the 2010s, first with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a superb retelling of Stieg Larsson’s book which didn’t quite find the appreciative audience deserved, and Gone Girl, an even better movie which - thankfully - became a hit.
Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel (and adapted by the author herself), Gone Girl is both a gripping thriller and a thoroughly twisted relationship drama. Fincher’s mastery of the genre is all here: his millimetre-perfect composition, seamless touches of CGI and subtle yet effective uses of colour and shadow. While not a straight-up masterpiece like the period thriller Zodiac, Gone Girl is still a glossy, smart and blackly funny yarn in the Hitchcock tradition. If there’s one master of the modern thriller currently working, it has to be Fincher.
See related John Hillcoat interview: Triple 9, crime, fear of comic geniuses Jim Mickle interview: Cold In July, thrillers, Argento Jeremy Saulnier interview: Green Room, John Carpenter Jeremy Saulnier interview: making Blue Ruin & good thrillers Denis Villeneuve interview: Sicario, Kurosawa, sci-fi, ugly poetry Morten Tyldum interview: The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch, Headhunters Paul Greengrass interview: Captain Phillips & crime stories Movies Feature Ryan Lambie thrillers 15 Jun 2016 - 06:11 Cold In July Triple 9 Shutter Island Gone Girl David Fincher Martin Scorsese John Hillcoat Directors thrillers movies »
Game of Thrones’s seventh episode, “The Broken Man,” is full of tits but not dragons and begins with a rare cold open. Immediately, we’re planted smack in the middle of The Shire from Lord of the Rings, where a bunch of free-lovin’ hippies are building a to-scale model of The Wicker Man and theatrically making... Game Of Thrones Recap: It’s A Shame About Brother Ray">Read more » »
- Rachel Handler
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