British film director Robin Hardy, best known for his 1973 directorial debut, horror movie The Wicker Man, has died, according to the BBC . He was 86.
Written by Anthony Shaffer, The Wicker Man starred Edward Woodward as a devoutly Christian policeman named Neil Howie who investigates the disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish island populated by pagans and ruled by Christopher Lee’s Lord Summerisle.
Although not a box office hit, The Wicker Man has become a beloved, and influential, cult classic. Director Edgar Wright paid homage to Hardy’s film with his own 2007 movie Hot Fuzz, which, like The Wicker Man, concerned a conspiracy in a rural setting and featured Woodward in its cast. On Saturday, Wright acknowledged his debt to the late director’s film, writing on Twitter, “There would be no Hot Fuzz without it.”
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A critically-reviled remake of The Wicker Man was released in 2006, directed by Neil LaBute and starring Nicolas Cage. “I’ve been to some of LaBute’s theater stuff, very good indeed, and I admire Nicolas Cage too,” Hardy told EW in 2013. “So how they could have possibly thought what they were getting into was good, I cannot imagine. Absolute disaster.” In the same interview, Hardy gleefully recalled the controversy provoked when his Wicker Man was re-released in 1979 and played San Francisco’s Castro Theatre. “We had protesters outside, which one should always have,” he said. “[They were] pagans, with piercings through every orifice, complaining that we were giving paganism a bad name.”
Hardy also directed 1986’s The Fantasist and 2011’s The Wicker Tree, a companion piece to The Wicker Man.
You can see a trailer for The Wicker Man, below.