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Episode 19 — The Wicker Man

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The Wicker Man has a measly 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. Does it deserve this terrible score? Jonah Ray is in the studio to deconstruct and celebrate the ridiculousness of this Neil Labute remake disaster. We also get a call from Liam O'Donnell, one of the writers of Skyline, who defends his movie and offers up an explanation of how it got made. In case that isn't enough, we've got a special tease into our next episode which you can expect earlier than normal. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a special ceremony to attend.

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Yay, looks like Jason M. is back in the studio. No more Skype!

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This is one of those episodes that actually makes me want to see the movie. Is it worth it to see the ridiculousness, or is it enough that I've already seen the YouTube clips of Nicolas Cage freaking out?

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As horrible as this movie was... that sideways dive he did off the dock? I give it Four Ridiculous Cages. Then he wakes up. Then he wake up AGAIN. "GodDAMMIT!!!"

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@Julia: It's really bad for the first hour or so, where nothing makes sense in plot, dialogue or acting choices, but Cage is somewhat subdued, then after that he takes off the brakes and goes full-on Cage. So you have to invest some time before you get the sweet, sweet pay-off. If you've seen the Youtube clips, you've seen the best beats, although I usually like my craziness in context. But if you are a bad movie buff, go watch it.

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So I have never seen this movie but from the description, all they want from Cage is to sacrifice him? Why don't they break his legs while he is sleeping as soon as he gets to the island?

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Always great when a Nick Cage movie is reviewed. Just a suggestion: Whenever you guys review a remake, you should make one person watch the original movie (or check out the wikipedia page) to compare and see where the new film lost the plot. Also, it was very cool that Liam O'Donnell came on the show to talk about Skyline. Its always interesting to hear what when wrong from someone on the inside.

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Just want to mention how much I love the Second Opinion segments - great addition.

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@Jimmy: Agreed, the first is as mental but in a good way and may even legitimately be called scary.

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Thanks for making me watch this...I saw a purloined version of the theatrical release also so had to seek out the leg-breaking scene online. I posted it in the minisode thread. I could watch this mashup forever:

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Great episode! I just wish you remarked about Fionna Apple's lines throughout the movie. Every sentence just kind of canceled the other out in terms of making sense or structure. She didn't help AT ALL. Then again, Cage's fault for always trusting her. Those crazy honey-making women.

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When you guys talked about the flashback 25 min. in...about the first 25 mins. worth of scenes, you guys reminded me - you NEED to watch an Uvve Boll movie! That part reminded me of House of the Dead, where there's a flashback, in the middle of the final big battle, of events that JUST happened. You don't have to understand any of the source material (he's made a lot of video game "adaptations") to get stuff out of it; they're just insane and only tangentially related to whatever IP he licensed. By far, House of the Dead is the most entertaining movie of his - with Halloween coming out, you guys should do it in October!

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I think some of the incomprehensible plot points can be explained by them taking ideas from the 1973 original that don't really work outside of the context of that film.

A good example would be the need to specifically lure cops to the community for sacrifice. In the original, set in the UK, the pagan islanders specifically want an adult virgin with "the power of the king/queen". They set out to lure a specific policeman from the mainland, who is a devoutly religious virgin, because he represents (in English parlance) The Queen's/King's Peace. The pagan/christian conflict that lies at the heart of the film makes much more sense in the UK, which still has small pagan communities. It actually culminates in the villagers singing a traditional Old English folk song while the policeman recites bible verses, directly referencing the conflict between ancient and modern faith.

I've only seen bits of the remake, but I'm curious if the film focuses at all on the protagonist's faith? The Christian values of the policeman in the original film are very heavily emphasised.

I'm not opposed to remakes and I'm sure you could make the premise work in an American setting but I think the creators of this film needed to create a uniquely American setting for it to work rather than just importing a very specifically British setting.

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Hello everyone on the How Did This Get Made team! I just wanted to tell you that I love the podcast and that I count the days to the release of every new episode. But I mostly wanted to say that I REALLY enjoyed hearing you interview the writer/director of Skyline in this most recent episode. I love what you do with the podcast, but have always hoped you'd dig a little deeper into the question "how DID this get made?" Where did things go wrong? Why did the studio spend millions of dollars on this turd? Weren't there ample opportunities for someone to stand up and announce that the proverbial emperor has no clothes??? I think the Skyline interview shed some light onto how that movie turned out the way it did - if only you could get Sandra Bullock in to explain/defend All About Steve or the writers of Old Dogs to appear on the podcast, that would be amazing! I look forward to hearing from the director of The Punisher.

Again, I love the show, and please keep being awesome at what you do.

Thanks for the fun times.

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I'm surprised no one had seen the original Wicker Man. It's a classic of British cinema, although the ingenious plot will be ruined after seeing this remake.
 
I too enjoyed the Skyline interview. :)

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Love your show, this was a really funny episode. I found the DVD of this and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans at my local grocery store (!!) so have had my own "Nicholas Cage is out of his fucking mind" movie festival. If you watch Wicker Man with the commentary, the filmmakers actually explain some of the weird shit that is going on (they also seem oblivious to the fact that the movie is pretty ridiculous).

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@ Bobby, Mark and D C - Agreed with all of you. I think it's borderline comedy malpractice for "How Did This Get Made?" to make fun of a remake when they haven't seen (and didn't even MENTION) the original.

Here's the simple answer to the question "How did this get made?" - Someone with money in Hollywood LIKED the original and wanted to see it remade. Next question .....

A friend of a friend here in Chicago used to be in a band called "Wicker Man," which was, of course, named after the movie. Good times ...

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I am buying the unrated DVD of Wickerman on Amazon (by clicking through the Earwolf link of couse) because I bought the Rifftrax when I first watched this through Netfilx. I was surprised to see that this was a remake and I have to respectfully disagree with DC; the original's plot is not ruined by this horrible nick cage mess because the original actually makes sense!

 

To answer Mark Steward's question:

"I've only seen bits of the remake, but I'm curious if the film focuses at all on the protagonist's faith? The Christian values of the policeman in the original film are very heavily emphasized."

 

No, the faith of Cage's character is of no consequence and not brought up, only the incomprehensible was-engaged-to-the-Fiona-Apple-girl-and-maybe-is-the-father-of-Rowan plot which sucks and is a real crime to the original because the greatest aspect of the first film is the debate of Christianity's validity over Paganism. Also the original's thesis is what if the ancient practice of human sacrifice to appease the gods were to be done in the modern world, which is lost in the remake with all the nonsense going on regarding Cage's sanity and what not.

 

To all film lovers I highly reccommend the original Wicker Man, its almost 40 year old classic that asks some really intreasting theological and moral questions and even though you know the ending from the remake and/or this podcast its still great to watch; its very well acted (featuring Christopher Lee as the pagan leader, awesome), like I said it makes way more sense then the Cage remake and you really feel for the charracters, especially the detective in the end, its very moving. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

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What i found amazing about the film is, as bonkers as it was, it is now where near as bonkers fun as the original. Edward Woodward on an island of people who randomly burst into folk singing. Fully naked landlords daughters sexy dancing and singing in an empty room as she writhes and eyefucks the camera. The schoolroom scene is surprisingly similar but far more effective and creepy than the stupid jump scare in the new one. I much prefer the intensity too; Woodward's frustration doesn't boil over into crazy anger he is more professional and you can see him battling it as walls are thrown up and he is lied to. Animal sacrifice takes place too.. and a diverse community of people saving a fruit harvest on a barren island makes far more sense. The heavy religious overtones as the Christian policeman is concerned over their godlessness and is a point used in the finale to emphasize the whole madness.

 

Its amazing really that a modern remake is so tame and safe in compassion to what is now a rather old horror movie.

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Great episode. That's the first episode I've listened to right after I watched the movie, and that's definitely a much better experience. There are two things from the movie that bug me the most. Why didn't Cage ask Sister Rose how his daughter burned? She didn't have to tell him why, but he didn't even think of asking her. Maybe she would have lied, but why not even ask? Also, the ending killed me, not because cage dies, but because the first ten minutes were never explained. Am I missing something? Were the car crash and the little blond girl in the beginning and his daughter being a little blond girl just a coincidence? After I typed that, I had an epiphany: He was driven to save Rowan, a little blond girl, because he couldn't let another little blond girl die. The whole movie was leading to his eventual craziness. His punching women, screaming, and stealing bikes were because he had finally lost it. The timing of Willow's letter was never explained, but sometimes you can't explain fate or storytelling laziness. Please visit my site if you are 18 and into that.

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Even if the car scene at the beginning was real, why did the girl act like Nicholas Cage was an asshole for trying to save her from a burning car?

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