A sarcastic quip that probably seemed absurd at the time
July 18, 2019 1:11 PM   Subscribe

One Lord substituted for another. Edward Millar and John Semley consider The Wicker Man (1973; previously) and folk horror (previously) in light of anti-Enlightenment culture and reactionary movements. (SLBaffler)
posted by doctornemo (12 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thank you thank you this is EXTREMELY my shit.
posted by capnsue at 1:45 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


This article is incredible.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:22 PM on July 18, 2019


Great reads! The Wicker Man is my favorite pagan horror folk musical.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:17 PM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


very good!

the article is totally right that in many cases there isnt as big a distinction as we'd hope between "modern" life and "pagans" because both can feature hierarchical structures based on power-- both systems can be used as mechanisms of social control. the scare of folk-horror implies that they are very different, but they're often not. as the author says, caesar was going to put the celts on pikes anyway.

and yet... if i had to choose what's scarier between, say, a sci-fi horror film where everyone's trying to be a hero to stop the external bad guy, or a folk-horror film where a community colludes to strip one person of their individuality and sacrifices them for the greater good, the latter inspires much more fear for me.

i'll take my science and individuality and go fight the Alien with laser blasters; you handle the creepy blue-eyed cults.
posted by wibari at 4:44 PM on July 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


oh yes yes yes oh fuck yeah, I love folk horror and find the English landscape terrifying. I can't wait to dive into this.
posted by kalimac at 5:32 PM on July 18, 2019


The key (or hinge) to the film is that amazing Paul Giovanni soundtrack, which gets some appreciation in Rob Young's 'Electric Eden'. As a work of faux-Celtic pastiche, it's stunning.
posted by ovvl at 7:28 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


The key (or hinge) to the film is that amazing Paul Giovanni soundtrack, which gets some appreciation in Rob Young's 'Electric Eden'. As a work of faux-Celtic pastiche, it's stunning.

You could make an awesome stage show out of those tunes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:11 PM on July 18, 2019


People who like this article would probably enjoy both Mark Fisher's The Weird and the Eerie and the alarming recordings of Ghostbox Records. Belbury Poly's Summer Round is obviously the soundtrack to Something Bad In The Countryside, clearly something which takes place on one of those sunny, still days when everything is wretchedly green.

~~

TBH I don't like The Wicker Man or folk horror or anything where anyone gets burned or otherwise tortured to death. To my mind, just as you can't make an anti-war movie, you can't make an anti-torturing-people-to-death movie - the power of the medium to invest torture and the power to kill with fascination and mystery is too strong.
posted by Frowner at 5:59 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's comedy rather than horror, but Sylvia Townsend Warner's novel Lolly Willowes sort of fits this bill: protagonist escapes to the country, gets involved with pagan shenanigans & in the end willingly substitutes one lord for another.

From the article: "...old-timey spellings painted on village signage (or movie posters, as in Midsommar)" - isn't midsommar just the correctly-spelled Swedish for midsummer?

While it's only tangentially related at best, I was reminded of this previous post.
posted by misteraitch at 6:59 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


a community colludes to strip one person of their individuality and sacrifices them for the greater good, the latter inspires much more fear for me.

Wicker Man always had a Those Who Walk Away from the Omelas* aspect to it for me, which is why I thought the imagery of song and dance and festival for the locals, set against Woodward's stiff religious abstinence and personal isolation, was so important. I don't think I'd like it if the locals weren't, on the surface, offering a more appealing sense of how to live.

So related to that I see some of the points about fascism intellectually but I don't really buy them taken as a whole. I remember the movie as offering a much less restricted vision for the locals than you might get from The Man. It's been a while though since I've seen it.

*If you are not familiar with it, it is a short LeGuin story. The synopsis is easy to find but I'd strongly encourage you to find the original, as IMHO the summary would absolutely spoils the story.
posted by mark k at 8:31 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


If you like this you may also like the writings and account of @TheLitCritGuy / Jon Greenaway (previously) who writes a lot of Gothic Marxism and has a great podcast discussing leftism and horror films, Horror Vanguard (Greenaway interviewed on Rev Left Radio)
posted by The Whelk at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2019


Aster talks about the subtle but present fascism thread woven through Midsommar: there’s a book of Nazi symbology prominently displayed in an early scene, the banner to the village says stop mass migration, the runes used are popular with neo-Nazis ...I thought the strength of the film is putting the audience in the same headspace as the characters, being dizzied and indoctrinated so even after all the horror there’s still a “yeah ...but” lurking in there.
posted by The Whelk at 10:27 AM on July 31, 2019


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