Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths and must survive the terrors of Leatherface and his family.
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
According to a column she wrote for the Den of Geek site in 2008, Ingrid Pitt said she got involved in the film when she heard about it and rang director Robin Hardy, whom she had met briefly a short time before, a few days before filming started to ask him if there was a part for her. "He admitted that the main casting was complete," she wrote, "but mentioned that the role of the Librarian was still up for grabs. I grabbed, and he directed me to Peter Snell who was just about to leave for Scotland. I didn't hang about. Jumped into a taxi and dived across London to Swiss Cottage, where Snell was living. He gave me the job and a couple of weeks later I was freezing my bodice off in the Highlands." 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 »
The 1978 Magnum Entertainment VHS version released in the USA is uncut. See more »
Oranges and Lemons
Traditional English nursery rhyme
[Played on bagpipes at the head-chopping ceremony] See more »
Poorly paced but worthy seeing for the ending
Drawn to a small Scottish Island by a letter pleading for help in finding a kidnapped girl, Sergeant Neil Howie realises that things are very different from life on the mainland. He begins to suspect that Rowan's disappearance may be part of a ritual to appease the nature gods worshipped on the island.
Well known now as one of the best British horror cult movies (one critic called it `the Citizen Kane of British horror') this film still stands today as new generations discover it's ending and fall in love with that. Sadly, most people know the ending before they have actually seen the film, which, in my mind, greatly takes away from the film's impact. For that reason I will make no mention of the ending's detail suffice to say that it works very well and actually raises the rest of the film.
The main body of the film sees Howie hunting for the missing girl and finding that things are not as simply as he originally thinks. The film comes across as a sort of spiritual musical for the most part and doesn't really bring out the tension or suspicions until near the end. The downside of this is that parts of the film appear slightly dull or meandering. I did get a little tired with the overuse of naturalist religious images but I accept that they were necessary for the story to be built.
The cast are very good. Lee was happy to do a film that brought him away from the camp Hammer horror mould into which he had been set. His Lord Summerisle is an image of cold, religious zealotry terrifying in his portrayal of evil as part of `the right thing'. Woodward is also cast against type as he was a harder man in much of his work rather than a pure upright type. Ekland is good but is dubbed the whole way through the film to give her a Scottish accent in place of her own distinctive Swedish one. Of the cast it is Lee and Woodard who carry the film their scenes together work well and they also carry the opposing moral weights of the story.
Overall this is a film that has had a reputation built on it's ending, and for that it is well deserved. However for the majority of the film the pacing is a little off and I felt that the songs slowed the film down too much. Overall the film works due to it's set-up and payoff, however it's delivery as a total film is not as good as it's reputation would have you believe.
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