A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
On Sunday, April 29, 1973, Sergeant Neil Howie with the West Highland Constabulary flies solo to Summerisle off the coast of Scotland. He is there to follow up on a letter addressed specifically to him from an anonymous source on Summerisle reporting that a twelve year old girl who lives on the island, Rowan Morrison, the daughter of May Morrison, has long been missing. The correspondence includes a photograph of Rowan. Upon his arrival on Summerisle, Howie finds that the locals are a seemingly simple minded lot who provide little information beyond the fact that they know of no Rowan Morrison and do not know the girl in the photo. Mrs. Morrison admits to having a daughter, seven year old Myrtle, but no Rowan. As Howie speaks to more and more people, he begins to believe that Rowan does or did live on the island, but that the locals are hiding their knowledge of her. He also begins to see that the locals all have pagan beliefs, their "religion" which centers on procreation as the ...Written by
Robin Hardy explained the meaning of the scene with the woman in the graveyard nursing a baby while sitting on a grave with an egg in her hand to Alan Cumming in Scotland on Screen (2009). According to Hardy, it's a fertility ritual and she was hoping for another baby. See more »
While Sgt Howie (dressed as Punch) is being chased by the women, you can see autumn leaves on the grass, though the story is set on the first of May. See more »
[Short Version only] A message from the producers thanks "The Lord Summerisle and the people of his island" for co-operating in the making of the film. This is despite both the lord and the island being totally fictitious. See more »
A police sergeant (Edward Woodward) goes to a remote island near Scotland hearing that a young girl is missing. When he gets there it seems no one has ever heard of her...and most say she never existed. He continues to search and the mystery gets deeper and deeper leading up to a very disturbing conclusion.
I saw this during it's theatrical reissue in 1980--it was the cut 88 minute version. I was disappointed. It was advertised as a horror film and the edited version leaves gaping plot holes. I just saw the extended version on the DVD and loved it!
For one thing, as I said, it is NOT a horror film. I went in expecting that and didn't get it. It's actually a thriller with strong religious and sexual overtures. There's WAY too much to get into about the religious views in this film, and the sexual element is STRONG! There's a whole circle of nude young women dancing around a fire, and an exceptional sequence in which a very erotic song is sung by a nude Britt Ekland. The mystery itself is fascinating but I really got caught up in the religious and social aspects presented in this film. Credit writer Anthony Shaffer for his script.
Also the acting is great on all counts. Woodward deserves credit for playing such an unlikable character--and STILL getting you to sympathize with him! Also Hammer stars Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt (whose part is brutally reduced in the short version) are just great! For one thing it's interesting to see them playing fairly "normal" people (instead of vampires) and they give out excellent performances. Lee especially is enjoying himself--he did the film for free! To this day he said it's his best movie--he's right.
An excellent, haunting thriller but it might be too much for some people. There's next to no blood or violence, but I do know some people who just found the ending a bit too much to handle. Still, it's a definite must-see.
A deserved cult classic.
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