Movie: The Wicker Man (1973)
Writer: Anthony Shaffer
For this entry's purpose, do yourself a favor and forget that Nicolas Cage's remake of The Wicker Man exists. It's out of your minds? Cool, now we can acknowledge director Robin Hardy's original 1973 horror classic without any distortion.
On its way to one of the best gut-punch endings of all time, The Wicker Man follows the never-been-laid, morally astute Scottish police officer Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) as he searches for a missing girl on the remote island known as Summerisle, where the inhabitants are always perky and the dread is palpable to everyone but poor Howie.
The lawman thinks that the missing schoolgirl is about to be offered up as a virginal sacrifice on May Day, when the residents of Summerisle participate in a pagan ritual that appeases “the gods” and brings on a fresh harvest. Little does he know, unfortunately, that he's the virgin sacrifice—the girl was just the bait to make him visit Summerisle.
By the time Howie wakes up and smells the burning wicker, it's far too late—the island's creepy citizens encircle the massive Wicker Man in which Howie is trapped as it burns him alive, with his killers holding his hands and chanting happy-go-lucky folks songs. And, no, Woodward doesn't yell out, “The bees! Aaaah!” That dishonor went to Cage, 33 years later.