The Wicker Man: 50th Anniversary – Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Like many a Studio Canal title on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, Lionsgate has released their version of the folk horror legend, The Wicker Man, in the United States. Hitting shelves at Best Buy on October 17th, it comes in collectible steelbook packaging. In addition to the new restoration, the release features a nice slew of new featurettes/interviews and presents the film with an LPCM track instead of DTS-HD MA which had been on the standard Blu-ray. This isn’t an identical port from the UK version as its missing some bonus features and only contains The Final Cut version of the movie.


Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives on the small Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the report of a missing child. A conservative Christian, the policeman observes the residents’ frivolous sexual displays and strange pagan rituals, particularly the temptations of Willow (Britt Ekland), daughter of the island magistrate, Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child.

While not the first folk horror film ever made, the gold standard and one people point to as the most influential and staple of the sub genre is 1973’s The Wicker Man. Its a film that has had a legacy of relevancy and influence for 50 years now. Featuring such genre vets as Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt, its an easy movie to discover for someone entering the genre. And its one that will unsettle, even if you’re not altogether sure about the film you watched for the first time.

One of the joys of The Wicker Man is that it plays as a mystery movie, following a detective searching for a girl in a little island town that has kooky inhabitants. Clues and suspicions come about, as well as red herrings and many interesting friends and foes. It all leads to a result like we haven’t see before. And one that just sort of doesn’t have you feeling right in the end. An effective ending such as this one will leave it in your head and intrigue you to go back and probably find even more appreciation to the journey that led to it. There’s a lot going on for the film and ways to enjoy and new things to find when seeing it.

The Wicker Man is a film that definitely is a vibe. There’s a feeling to it all, coming in the form of the style of the island, from the architecture to the costumes and the clothes. But, the film also doubles as a musical with countless song and dance numbers that only further bring forth an eeriness to the movie where their would normally be comfort. A weird balance is drawn between the film showcasing sexy but making it feel unnerving at the same time.

Its fascinating that there have been a lot of movies that get accused of just having a good ending and nothing more, but The Wicker Man has not had that distinction despite a being a candidate for the impatient or film illiterate. The testament is that it remains quite an effective mystery film with darkly comedic, devious and unnerving themes, performances and sequences that leave it lingering in your brain forever after taking it in. 50 years later, it remains just as effect as it ever was.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: The Wicker Man’s 4K restoration and debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray is one that features a myriad of different looks and quality. For the majority of this movie, it looks absolutely gorgeous. There are moments, primarily in the darkened pub and similar where it gets a bit rough in the details and almost look like its 16mm. There are also many instances of very soft photography in the film, but I feel like it handles it well. There are a lot of fine details here in the film with much of the cobblestone, bricks, wall texture, fabrics and the like looking really impressive to the touch.

Depth:  Depth of field is very strong as this film looks quite big and showcases a lot of pushback and scale in this image. Movement is smooth and natural with no issues arising from motion distortions like blur or jitter coming from quick camera movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural. Much of this movie has some good shadow and tints. However, as mentioned, some of the darkened scenes do lose information and aren’t the transfer at its strongest. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong and lifelike. Many of the colors on the clothing are what brings out a little more pop. Most of this movie is filled with browns, grays, dark blues and greens, but they look very rustic and bold.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial textures and details from the cracks in ones face like wrinkles and scars to lip texture, freckles, stubble and more appearing clear as day from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono LPCM

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Wicker Man switches from DTS-HD MA to LPCM for this release, likely following suit from a port rather than making a big choice in a format bump. Nonetheless, this sounds pretty good, aside from some source related issues. Its a clean, clear track that has some minimal hiss for the most part. A lot of that comes in with the musical numbers. Most scenes feel like a room has been well built with ambiance and has good space and a looseness to it with good layering and depth with the effects. Tho a mono track, it remains plenty loud and engaging.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are crisp and clear with the diction sounding quite rich and impressive.


The Wicker Man: 50th Anniversary Edition comes with the previously standard Blu-ray edition from Lionsgate and a redeemable digital code. There is 1 featurette that appears on the standard Blu-ray only. This particular version comes in a limited edition steelbook packaging, only available at Best Buy. For a look at the packaging, click the video below.


Revisiting The Locations Of The Wicker Man (HD, 12:18) – We take a look at the grounds the film was shot on, what it looks like today. There’s anecdotes on its unique weather situation as well as the tourism making the pilgrimage to see the legendary locations. A horticulturist, gift shop owners and more are interviewed.

The Wicker Man At 50 (HD, 11:12) – Critics look back at what has made The Wicker Man endeavor such a legacy of appreciation and fandom. “We looked at each other (mouth open)…how are they ever going to release that?”

Robin Hardy’s Script: The Lost Ending (HD, 11:18) – This takes a look at the original script (you get to see it), found in 2023 with Justin Hardy and Tom Plester discussing it.

Britt Ekland Interview (HD, 10:27) – The Bond actress discusses landing the role on the film, working with Robin Hardy and her friends and experience on the set as well as taking her son to see the film.

Stills Gallery (4K, 1:04)

Worshipping The Wicker Man (HD, 23:40)

The Music Of The Wicker Man (HD, 16:06)

Interview With Robin Hardy (2013) (HD, 17:02)

Interview With Robin Hardy & Christopher Lee (1979) (HD, 25:57) – Sourced from a VHS tape.

Trailers (HD, 3:42)


Restoration Comparison (HD, 1:55)


The Wicker Man still chills to the bone and provides a mood unto itself. Its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut in the United States is a pretty impressive one, though there is the knowledge that there’s a much better edition of it across the pond sorta make its bittersweet. Nonetheless, this is likely a more than wonderful edition for most people. I’m not sure if this is still available, but its a rather nifty pick up if you can.


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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