Generally regarded as one of the best British horror films, The Wicker Man very nearly sank into obscurity shortly after being made.
The film's distributors EMI disliked it so much that they wrote it off as a tax loss. Then Rod Stewart, who was married to Britt Ekland at the time, allegedly tried to buy the negative so that he could have it destroyed - thereby preventing the public from seeing his wife in the nude. Fortunately, the film survived (though not in the way its director originally intended).
The story focuses on a virginal police officer (Woodward) who is sent to a remote Scottish island to investigate the case of a missing child. What he discovers, though, is a community that has renounced Christianity in favour of pagan fertility rites.
It's a movie about religion, God, and the crisis of faith, with an ending that's either devoutly Christian (Woodward's Sergeant Howie continues praying right to the very end), or a nihilistic comment on God's absence from the universe.
With such a colourful production history, "The Wicker Man" was always destined for fame. Yet its cult status actually has more to do with the film's content - there's a paedophile subplot, lots of occult rituals, sexual perversion, Christopher Lee in drag, and a resolutely downbeat finale that's as far removed from a happy ending as it's possible to get. And on top of all that, it's bloody scary.
"The Wicker Man" is a movie that'll burn its way into your unconscious and give you nightmares for many years to come.
"The Wicker Man" is also available in a 99-minute uncut version