Oli Jeffery’s review:
We watched this again yesterday for the first time in many years, and it is still a very fine film indeed; probably Britain’s finest film, and certainly Britain’s best horror film. I happily watched it again today with the commentary on.
We watched the Director’s Cut and... now, I don’t want to degenerate the hard time that this film had in its recuts, and I know how fond Christopher Lee is of the full version, and I don’t want to say anything to anger Christopher Lee on the grounds that a) he’s awesome and b) he might come and kill me with the sheer POWER OF HIS VOICE, but...
The theatrical cut is a bit pacier, isn’t it? Not better, mind. The majority of the bits that are added back in The Director’s Cut add a lot - particularly the prologue with Howie on the mainland is near essential; the theatrical cut is essentially the same as starting Star Wars with Luke already on the Millennium Falcon. Also, the restructuring of the film into two days one night rather than three days is just weird and unnessaacry and robs it of a lot of tension.
However, the Theatrical Cut (and Robin Hardy is sniffy about even calling it that being that it got one showing as the B picture to Don’t Look Now) does have it in terms of pace. I mean, on a basic level, it was always going to, it’s shorter; but it does feel more movie like - the Director’s Cut seems more novelistic. I also prefer not meeting Lord Summerisle until we get to the castle; I do like the scene of him counting Whitman whilst watching snails fuck, but it could probably have been moved till later in the movie.
I suppose, ultimately, I think that there’s probably a better cut out there that combines the artistry of the Director’s Cut and the mercenary commercialism of the Theatrical Cut that includes everything, but also trims everything, just a little.
On a final note - Don’t Look Now and The Wicker Man as a double header? That is one brilliant but horrendously depressing night out.