STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $28.98
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
Alternate ending
Audio commentary including Neil LaBute and Leelee Sobieski
Theatrical trailer

The Pitch

Man who is allergic to bees visits colony of bee worshippers. Hijinks ensue.

The Humans

Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Molly Parker and Leelee Sobieski

The Nutshell

Policeman Edward Malus receives a mysterious letter from his ex-fiancé, pleading with him to come and help her find her missing daughter in the mysterious town of Summersisle.

Once Malus arrives there, he finds a bizarre colony in which the women rule and the men are reduced to mute breeding slaves. He desperately searches for any evidence of the missing girl as he slowly uncovers the bizarre truths behind Summersisle’s society.

Bet you didn’t know Nic Cage was related to Johnny Cage. Back, forward, low kick, bitch!

The Lowdown

Get any expectations of the original film’s commentary on religion and paganism out of your head immediately. This version of The Wicker Man shares more in common with Children of the Corn than the film that shares its name. It’s a cult movie in the truest and wackiest sense of the word, as a colony of matronly bee lovers off the coast of Washington exert estrogenic control over their own secluded island.

Neil LaBute both writes and directs the film, which fails to terrify but certainly remains interesting, if only because the audience can’t wait to see what insanity the plot will devolve into next. Any real scares the film tries to pull off are merely copout visions and hallucinations. There might as well be a character that jumps out from bushes and yells “Boo!” from time to time. The real fun of the film comes in sticking around to see just how ridiculous it will become.

Although LaBute’s screenplay is hard to defend, his directing has a few bright spots. The location scout for the film is the only one from this production that deserves any real praise, as the concept of a lunatic fringe of bee fetishists is made relatively plausible simply by the creepy interiors and exteriors in which the film takes place.

Scene from the direct-to-video sequel to Honey.

Thanks to the locations, it’s not really difficult for LaBute to create some sinister looking shots and instill a sense of dread from time to time. It’s too bad that these brief scenes of the macabre are so fleeting and often quickly ruined by more absurd plot points and scenery chewing performances.

By the end of the film, it’s unclear if The Wicker Man is supposed to be a thriller or a self-parody. It’s almost asking too much of an audience not to break into laughter as characters begin loudly narrating exactly what’s happening to them as if the movie were designed for the visually impaired. The triumphant raising of the sacrifice straight up through the Wicker Man’s taint and the hilariously awful “Six months later,” Friday the 13th style ending only serve as the cherry on top of the laughably bad ending.

The much advertised “shocking” alternate ending included on the DVD release is slightly better, although completely lacking in any shocking qualities. The alternate ending does chop off the “Six months later” epilogue, which is the equivalent of a man suffering third degree burns over 99 percent of his body as opposed to 100.

Someone tell me how to get the hell out of this Men Without Hats video right now.

The Wicker Man won’t end up on anyone’s “best of” lists when it comes to horror films, but this literal cult film may one day find itself amassing a cult following in the same manner as Battlefield Earth. Audiences may one day be yelling along with Nicolas Cage at the screen as he delivers such great lines as “Not the bees!” and “Killing me won’t bring back your goddamn honey!” There might even be an entire island colony dedicated to watching the film. It’s unlikely, but it helps to think that something positive might one day come out of this film.

The Package

The Wicker Man comes on a fancy flipper disc, a rare sight in this day and age. One side includes the unrated edition while the other features the PG-13 cut. The unrated edition also features the alternate ending. There’s very little difference between the two versions besides the ending, as the PG-13 version seems to have just as much blood and violence as the unrated.

It’s the Titus treatment for you, Old Man Weatherbee.

A feature length commentary by Neil LaBute, Leelee Sobieski, Kate Beahan, editor Joel Plotch and costume designer Lynette Meyer is available for your listening pleasure. Sobieski’s inclusion in the commentary is odd given how little she’s in the film, but she adds just as much to the conversation as the rest of the participants, which is mostly devoid of substance. The commentary may have been more interesting with LaBute by himself, but as it stands now, this track is only worth a listen if you enjoy hearing about how great every single member of the production was on The Wicker Man or you want to know what it feels like to be kicked in the head by Nicolas Cage.

Overall: 4.0 out of 10