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It’s Not Always Good to be King:
The Folk Horror of Philip Loraine’s Day of the Arrow

DayoftheArrow [1]3,654 words

Day of the Arrow [2] (1964)
By “Philip Loraine” [Robin Estridge]
UK: Collins, 1964; US: Morrow, 1964
US reissue: Valancourt, 2015

Eye of the Devil [3] (1966); aka 13
Directed by J. Lee Thompson and others
Screenplay by Robin Estridge
Starring David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Donald Pleasance, David Hemmings, Edward Mulhare, and “introducing” Sharon Tate. 

“He isn’t living at Bellac, he is Bellac.”

Christopher Pankhurst’s excellent review [4] of the apparently quite worthwhile Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies,[1] or rather, some comments thereon, has reminded me that I have been slothful in getting ‘round to reviewing Day of the Arrow, an extremely interesting novel published by “Philip Loraine” — a pseudonym of novelist and screenwriter Robin Estridge — which served as the basis for the Brit-horror cult film Eye of the Devil — and perhaps another, more well known, movie popular among neo-pagans.

Out of print for decades, it now reappears as one of the “20th Century Classics” being reprinted by the estimable independent publisher Valancourt.[2]

Here’s Valancourt’s description:

James Lindsay has been summoned to the ancient estate of Bellac by his old flame, Françoise, to help her husband, Philippe de Montfaucon, who has inexplicably become convinced that he is about to die. His fears may not be unfounded: in old tomes in the castle’s library, Lindsay learns that almost every male Montfaucon has met with a mysterious and untimely end. Now with the ancient festival of Les Treize Jours approaching and the castle filling up with strange and sinister visitors, Lindsay must unravel an intricate and horrifying web of legend and superstition to save Philippe from a terrible fate . . .

And the critics weigh in:

“The sophisticated and the primitive, the seen and the half-seen . . . homosexuals and witches, in an intriguing mixture of old and new.” — Chicago Tribune

“Brooding, atmospheric . . . an ancestral castle and its village are the setting for a highly civilized and aristocratic nightmare . . . full of tantalizing and terror-filled symbols.” — Anthony Boucher, New York Times

You can’t blame Valancourt for making the book sound much more like the conventional Dennis Wheatley or William Peter Blatty type of “satanic thriller.” Marketing aside, it’s probably best to let the reader discover for himself that this is no ordinary “occult horror” tale.

In fact, the most impressive thing about this short novel is how comfortable it is with ambiguity and uncertainty. Unlike the usual heroic priest/investigator takes on the evil/Satanic cult/conspiracy dreck, both of our protagonists are thoroughly conflicted.

Both, when we first meet them (Philippe, at least, in Lindsay’s memories) are modern, secular hedonists. Phillipe, it turns out, was only attempting to escape his fate — contrary to Mel Brooks, it’s not always good to be the king — and having been drawn back to it, ineluctably, comes to even accept his role as the dying savior of the vineyards. Lindsay, who initially sees himself in the conventional, bourgeois role[3] of saving Phillipe, finds himself more and more responsive to the ancient call of the blood; as Chris Rock said about OJ, he doesn’t approve, but he understands.[4]

I must admit that my interest was piqued by that “homosexuals and witches” line, thinking there might be something here along the lines of the Aryan Männerbund on display, but both are not so much red herrings — though Lindsay is relieved to think his old pal has abandoned his family and hangs out at the old chateau with a lovely young man (one “Christian”!) simply as a typically French mid-life crisis[5] — as they are symptoms, clues, or symbols, of deeper concerns.

Philippe’s gay romp has less to do with what Judeo-Cons would call dissolute European morals than with the survival of the more ancient and authentic European traditions:

“The Romans had brought the god Mithra into France: the god who was a god of soldiers, a god of men — of men without women; and he spoke also of the ancients, to whom the love of man for man was pure love, while the love of man for woman was not.”

“The Troubadours, as you may know, came from Languedoc, and the songs they sang—as you probably don’t know—were nothing to do with the love of knights for fair ladies; they were hymns of the old religion, and any physical love they extolled had nothing to do with women, for you see, the love of man for woman was of the flesh, evil; to bring more souls into a world ruled by evil was, in itself a sin.”

We’ll get back to this remarkable little history lesson in a bit, but as for witches, this element is also a mere symbol of a deeper theme: paganism, that is, the rural belief system that preceded and survived Christianity, and for which here even the country doctors have a grudging respect:

“Your husband’s just like the rest of them; they’ve always had this trust in their wise old women.[6] You always get that sort of thing in real country places—harmless, and useful kinds of witchcraft. Such a stupid name for it!’”

“‘Oh yes,” said the abbé, “she’s a witch, all right. Never underestimate the knowledge of a witch; mankind has forgotten more things, and more important things, than he will ever learn.”

“If you asked anyone in this valley about the girl [Christian’s sister, Odile] they would tell you at once that she was a witch.”

So things are a little more complicated here than in either your typical Evangelical screed against “the Awk-ult” or the gee-whiz enthusiasm of a “History” Channel “Mysteries of the Grail” doco.

“To men like Père Dominique and Luchard and my son, Bellac’s festival of the Thirteen is . . . how shall I put it? Is debased. The people have always leaned towards the old witch cult. What you saw yesterday in the village is no longer pure, yet it goes hand in hand with the deeper secrets. And . . .’ The old voice faltered. ‘And . . . at certain times, it is the people who demand . . .”

Gnosticism — specifically, it seems, Mithraism — survives in this French valley under the cover of Christianity,[7] while rural paganism lurks at an even deeper level, trumping both. The latter requires the sacrifice of the Marquis to return fertility to the vineyards, while the former provides the local nobs with an ethic of virility, courage, and service that makes their self-sacrifice possible.[8]

“One comes at last,” he said finally, “to an acknowledgment of one’s responsibilities.”

These underlying historic layers are, of course, also present psychologically,[9] accounting for the conflicts between the main protagonists’ modern, secular consciousness — which is relatively thin and brittle — and the underlying call of the blood.

There was inside him some buried forest sense that warned him of danger.

He would dearly have liked to rip off the dressing [applied by the old wise woman], yet, almost in spite of himself, he had an absolute trust in her methods; it was as if the sureness of those old fingers had stirred in him an ancient, long-lost belief.

Perhaps, indeed, there was an instinctive knowledge in him deeper than the knowledge of mere intelligence.[10]

I suppose paganism survives among “the ignorant” but how is it possible for Gnosticism to survive? By exploiting the central weakness of the orthodox: reliance on scripture alone (sola scriptura). As Alan Watts would say, the Church has replaced the religion of Jesus — verified by personal experience — with the religion about Jesus — blind “faith” in supposedly “historically true” scriptures.[11] But as Protestantism discovered, mere words can be “interpreted” any way one wants

The theme of words is introduced early, as Lindsay mediates on how to broach the subject of Philippe’s withdrawal:

Lindsay fell to thinking of the explosive possibilities of words. Supposing he were to turn now and say to Philippe, ‘Why haven’t you slept with your beautiful wife for three years?’ or ‘You know, I suppose, that Françoise has a lover,’ or even ‘Philippe, please tell me: what was that girl doing in your tower with a dead dove?’

As Lindsay attends curiously disturbing Mass in the village, the theme reemerges in a theological or theurgic — context: “the words—or rather the meaning they had for this poised, utterly silent crowd.” In particular, the once familiar doxology: in the Beginning was . . . the Word.

“They have never been true Christians in the valley of Bellac; when Père Dominique celebrates Mass, the words that the people hear are not the same words that you hear . . . But at Bellac ‘the Word’ means the old knowledge, the old pagan religion.”

Besides this main theme, Loraine also sounds some of my favorite themes, such as the equivocal nature of “beauty” and “ugliness” when questions of spirituality are involved;[12] thus the lovely Christian is, like Christianity in the valley, an epiphenomenon of a more primitive substratum.

[Christian’s] features were absolutely regular, and should have added up to good looks; however, they did not—not even to languid, vapid good looks.

Lindsay knew that even the most faultless features, even the blankest type of young-girl beauty, revealed something strange during its transposition to a piece of paper. And this face was far from blank.

Lindsay had discovered something odd about this face; it emerged from his first sketch of it, which was like and yet utterly unlike; was, in fact, the face of a half-wit, a mongol. Fascinated by the discovery and its implications, he did not speak for some time. Yes, it was true; the eyes were too widely spaced, yet in the flesh this was barely apparent. The surprising lift to the cheekbones was, in the flesh, in some way canceled out or, now that he came to look again, balanced by the boy’s high color; yet in the drawing, robbed of coloring, the face that looked back at him was primitive, and the youthful yet mocking glance emerged as mere slyness. He was, Lindsay realized without surprise, the kind of person who cannot stand near to anyone without touching him; he put an arm round Lindsay’s shoulder. Yes, Lindsay thought, an animal. Most interesting, and far from unlikable.

Then there’s the archeofuturism; not just the presence of the past in the present, but the liberating — and very Gnostic — idea that our present imagination enables us to literally change the future:

“You don’t know, you see; you don’t know what is, so how can you know what will be?”

It was as if her passionate conviction could, in some way, stamp itself upon the future—bend the future to conform with what she so desperately believed.

“No one,” [Odile the witch] replied, “can have too much imagination. . . . There is no such thing as either reality or imagination; they are the same thing.”

Lindsay’s lengthy interrogation of Philippe’s father reverses — and therefore emphatically recalls — the Tooth Fairy’s Revelation of the Method to the wheelchair bound (literally) reporter in Manhunter.[13] In both cases, disjointed images of the past are invoked, accompanies by the repeated interrogative — but really, injunctive — “Do you see?”[14]

Lindsay began to comprehend the ineluctable, deeply atavistic force—where the tonsured priest and the witch walked hand in hand—that was driving Philippe de Montfaucon to an accepted death.

At the ideological climax, as Philippe defends his choice of dying to save the vineyards, and Lindsay, the rejected Savior, begins to see, Loraine even recalls Ananda Coomaraswamy’s defiant Tu quoque response to the hypocrites of British imperialism who affected a horrified reaction to the “barbaric” practice of sati, while smugly sending tens of thousands of young men to “die for their country” on pain of imprisonment and social stigma:

“But don’t you see—you’re dying for nothing. I shall die for my faith, and for my people—is that nothing? Did the millions who died in the last war, will the millions who are going to die in the next, die for more?” He shook his head. “When your turn comes, James, ask yourself, ‘Am I dying for what I passionately believe?’ The answer will be ‘No.’”

It was not true—it could not be true—that Philippe de Montfaucon, a more than ordinarily civilized man, intended to die on the cloudy August day that was soon to dawn. And yet thousands of men had died for their religion. It was no longer very fashionable, but it was certainly less stupid than dying for what was euphemistically called ‘one’s country,’ which usually meant an egotistical and probably bone-headed group of third-rate politicians.

Of course, this is a novel, after all, and it needs to be said that Loraine is a fine writer, capable of many sharp and memorable lines.

[Philippe had] that catlike self-assurance which he envied so much in Frenchmen; it came, he always imagined, from a youth spent in a world where the family was still the pivotal point, the center of the universe, a fortress of love, all protecting—instead of the kind of incompetently run youth hostel it had become in America and England.

“Never envy those people, James. Living the way we did: a month here, three months there—Rome, New York, Lisbon, London, Rio—it’s like . . . like a chain of caves; one progresses ever deeper into absolute nothingness, absolute darkness, a kind of living extinction. You can see it in their faces.”

Her eyes really did look quite crazy, but then, as he knew only too well, most people’s eyes looked crazy in absolute proximity.

“Nothing,” she added, “would surprise me about him—he has such ugly hands. And then his father’s a saint. That must be extremely difficult.”

The Countess and the Prince were dressed for riding; Natasha was dressed for luncheon at the Ritz.

She finished by calling her son her little cuckoo, which, even in French, sounded idiotic.

Yes, we have the meal together every day; their conversation is better suited to mine—we are all surrealists.

“Live and let live,” said Lindsay vacuously, wondering who else would take time off to offer him oblique warnings.

Lindsay could see, in his mind, the little cold body of the goldfish secreted in her brown hand; each golden scale was clear to him, and the magical sheen of the belly, as if it had been painted with a rainbow. And the wonderful golden eye, ringed with a circle of black. And in the golden eye of the golden fish could be seen reflected the Chateau of Bellac and the lake, and the round, surprised faces of the children—children watching a miracle in the golden eye of a goldfish. . . . Suddenly he felt violently sick.

“Loraine” writes a very effective “chased by hounds and irate peasants” scene around midpoint,[15] and near the end a “desperately driving to summon authorities while summarizing the plot” scene, showing why he found a parallel career in film writing. A combination of evocative writing and a rather subtle and sophisticated approach to paganism and Gnosticism makes this book highly recommended to alt-Right readers, especially those interested in the themes of archeofuturism and hauntology.

“Is our century so robust—is our way of life so secure—are we so contented, James, that we have no need of . . . reassurance—reassurance about the things of the spirit?”

“It’s not what it seems,” she added. “The silence, I mean. There’s always a great deal going on. Perhaps these extremely thick walls have something to do with it.”

Who could argue that places, that inanimate stones and wood did not dictate methods of behavior?

Speaking of films, Estridge turned to the other string on his bow and wrote (at least part of) the script for a movie adaptation, Eye of the Devil,[16] which for various reasons seems to have not attracted as much attention as one might have expected. Since it differs a bit, here‘s the IMDB summary:

The family of the Marquis, Philippe de Montfaucon, has long been the major landowner in Bellenac, a wine growing region in France. Philippe heads back to the family vineyard from his home in Paris when he learns that there are problems in the fields threatening the crops. Against Philippe’s wishes, his wife, the Marquise, Catherine de Montfaucon, with their two adolescent children, Jacques and Antoinette, decides to follow Philippe back to Bellenac. There, Catherine sees what she believes is disturbing behavior. Young adult siblings, Christian and Odile de Caray, whose family has also lived in the region for generations, have been hanging around the estate. While Catherine witnesses Christian killing a dove with a bow and arrow, which he seems always to be brandishing, Odile seems to have this hypnotic power over anyone in her sights. What’s worse is that Philippe seems to be in a transfixed state while in Bellenac. Although Catherine and the children’s lives are threatened while in Bellenac by the actions of Christian and Odile, she decides to stay just to figure out what is happening and to save Philippe, who too seems like he is under some threat. When Catherine eventually learns what is going on and why Philippe didn’t want her to come to Bellenac, it may be too late to save Philippe and perhaps Jacques from their evil destiny, as was the fate of seemingly many of the men of the de Montfaucon family in Bellenac over the generations.

The production, like most “British folk horror” films, seems to have been a bit cursed from the start.[17] Roman Polanski, just off Repulsion, was supposed to direct, but found the screenplay antipatico. They tried others, including Michael Anderson (Logan’s Run). Ultimately, W. Lee Thompson, who had worked with Estridge before, was brought in; he’s a director with a solid track record (the original Cape Fear) but no history with horror or the occult.

And I don’t know what to make of the idea of asking Dr. Strangelove’s Terry Southern to “tighten and brighten” the script,[18] along with numerous “consultants” such as Wiccan High Priest Alex Sanders (also known as the “King of the Witches”), who was brought in so that Thompson could “experience the atmosphere of ritual magic in order to convey it on film.”[19]

As for the leads, IMDB says:

Originally Kim Novak was cast in the role of Catherine de Montfaucon. Filming began in the fall of 1965 in France. Near every scene had been filmed when Kim Novak fell from a horse and wasn’t able to complete her scenes. Deborah Kerr was hired to take over and every scene that featured Miss Novak had to be re-shot with her replacement.

All for the better, as David Niven had taken a dislike to Novak (“that horrid woman” he called her in letters from the shoot). Although Niven was delighted to work with Kerr again, as were fans of classic film, they’re really, alas, both too old for the roles.[20]

The movie, and the viewer, is better served by the supporting cast, which is a Who’s Who of cult cinema. There’s Donald Pleasance, providing another baldheaded baddie, leading one to imagine the French abbé will be revealed as Blofeld in disguise;[21] Edward Mulhare (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir!); ambisexually beautiful London icon David Hemmings; and “introducing” (though she’d already been “introduced” in a couple previous films) . . . Miss Sharon Tate herself!

The presence of Miss Kerr and the b&w photography heighten the parallels to The Innocents, Jack Clayton’s 1961 take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. It’s rather as if the master of the house had returned, heard the governess’ story, and believed it, with Odile and Christian as the evil servants and Philippe’s children endangered.[22]

But what really come out are the parallels with — or perhaps the plagiarizing that would be made by — Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer’s The Wicker Man (1975; cue ominous yet hippie folk music).[23]

They are, indeed, remarkably similar films. Sgt. Howie combines the roles of nosey outsider trying to “save” the victim and the victim himself;[24] while he dies a good Christian,[25] unlike the conflicted Lindsay, he also makes it clear that if (when?) the crops fail again, Lord Summerisle will indeed be the next sacrifice.

As for Eye itself, as you can imagine, the delicious uncertainties of the book have been scrubbed clean, although, in yet another parallel to The Innocents, these have been replaced by the central ambiguity of whether Deborah Kerr’s Françoise/Catharine[26] is “in danger” or just nuts.[27]

The young Pleasance has a very Putinesque stare.[28] The roles of Catharine, Christian, and Odile are expanded enormously, at the expense of Lindsay and the other wise women, which is a very good thing for fans of Sharon Tate. Christian is just pretty rather than disturbing, and the whole “more spiritual love” angle dropped, except for a moment when he’s caressed by Philippe — an early clue in the book, just an odd moment in the film.

Modern audiences are apt to find the denouement to be intolerably drawn out, since we’ve seen the King/Kill motif many times by now,[29] while, on the other hand, only such a modern viewer could accept the idea of the ret-conned Deborah Kerr character as an action hero who might just save the day.[30]

The real problem is that film is not really suitable for exploring the complex issues we’ve highlighted in the novel; or at least these film makers haven’t managed to do it, and likely didn’t try. Mithraism and heathenism are collapsed into each other, and then subsumed under the usual “black mass” and “satanic sadists” motifs. Only Philippe shows any inner conflict, and Catharine dismisses it all as “your heathen nonsense” and “insanity.” For cinematic purposes, on assumes, the twelve dancers of the village festival become faceless, black robed monks who hold secret meetings and stalk people in the forest, looking rather like a cross between the Peter Jackson’s Nazgul and Monty Python’s Knights who say “Ni.”

It does add a very good line, though: speaking of his father, Philippe sneers:

“He’s not one of the men of the family.”

Spoilers aside, it might be a good way to get someone thinking about their heathen heritage, and asking questions the novel could then expand upon. On its own terms, it’s an pretty effective thriller, and its location shooting, moody, deep focus b&w photograph,y and very busy editing [31] make it an excellent film to watch on a cloudy Winter afternoon; perhaps, as I did, on Christmas — Joyeux Noël!


[1] Katherine Beem and Andy Paciorek, eds., Wyrd Harvest Press, 2015.

[2] I’ve reviews several of their weird fiction and modern classics here on Counter-Currents (see here [5]); my review of Michael Nelson’s A Room in Chelsea Square appears in my new collection, Green Nazis in Space! (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015). Readers here will also appreciate Valancourt for their republications of the fiction of Colin Wilson.

[3] “Coming of a purely bourgeois family myself, I have to confess that the aristocracy fascinates me — the continuity of it!” No one seems able to take Lindsay as a “artist,” from his and Philippe’s schooldays — “Youth being the most conservative of institutions, it was impossible for this chunky, pink-faced, fair-haired refugee from a football field to be a creative artist” — to the rural French coroner’s jury who doubt his Dan Brown-like story — “This odd character, it was pointed out, was not only an Englishman but also an artist. (Everybody thought this a highly amusing conjunction.)”

[4] “‘I hate him for this,’ she said. ‘I’m horrified to find how much I hate him.’ Lindsay nodded. ‘I understand that; and yet somehow I feel that he . . . he doesn’t deserve hatred.’”

[5] Lindsay: “When I asked you in Paris whether he was in love with another woman, you said ‘No, I’m sure he isn’t.’ You could have added that you were just as sure that he was in love with a young man. Good God, there’s nothing unusual about that.” And Françoise: ‘I sometimes think that violent physical love—and that’s what ours was, violent—comes at one moment to a point where it . . . it has to change into something else. Our love, Philippe’s and mine, had just reached that point—it needed the booster; it needed the new dimension. And instead . . . there was this. Nothing.”

[6] See Valancourt’s reprint of Lord Dunsany’s Curse of the Wise Woman, and my review here [6].

[7] “It’s curious,” said Lindsay, looking closer. “The figure of Christ isn’t actually nailed to the Cross at all.” “He rules from the Cross,” said the priest, his blue, quick eyes on the young man’s face. “Is the Cross itself so important?”

[8] I’m a bit foggy on the theology, or rather, theurgy, here. Philippe’s death clearly involves dripping his blood through the fields; now, his father (spoiler alert!) evaded his fate by faking his death by drowning, leaving no corpse, yet no one suspects anything went amiss with the ritual or that he’s alive and hiding out in the nabe. Symbolically, of course, he’s as good as dead, so that part works, but what about the blood? It also allows him to be found and debriefed by Lindsay in the penultimate chapter, so as to get all the Gnostic/pagan background out.

[9] “There was nothing simple about Philippe de Montfaucon, or about Bellac.”

[10] Even secular Françoise is a wise woman: “She shook her head wisely over the idiocies of science.”

[11] See my reviews of Robert M. Price’s The Human Bible: New Testament (here [7]) and Kenneth Humphreys’ Jesus Never Existed: An Introduction to the Ultimate Heresy (here [8]).

[12] See my essays on “Odd John” in in Green Nazis in Space!

[13] See my meditations on the film in “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [9]“ and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [10].”

[14] Cf. the elderly socialite/alien in John Carpenter’s They Live! – “I’ve got one that can see!” See my essay “He Writes! You Read! They Live!” here [11] and reprinted in my collection The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

[15] “The impossible fact was true (eruptions of physical violence into everyday life always struck him as faintly impossible): he was being hunted—hunted across country that was absolutely strange to him, by men who very probably knew every inch of it.”

[16] Now, you may note the change in title. Day of the Arrow does, perhaps, sound a bit more appropriate for some 1950s Hollywood frontier epic, and while Eye of the Devil is perhaps a bit too Hammer-ish, it is more suggestive of the goings on. The connection between arrow and eye is driven home by the movie poster, and watching the film I felt a bit like the Seinfeld gang when they couldn’t get in to see a Claude-Damme-ish movie called Deathblow and spent the next few days speculating whose deathblow was best, and who would get the next deathblow and when. In my case I kept waiting for arrow to be forcibly inserted into eye, and was not disappointed.

[17] See Wikipedia, here [12]. For a fine appreciation of the film along with its production and subsequent reputation, see “Looking into the Eye of the Devil” by Kimberly Lindbergs, posted on Movie Morlocks October 28, 2010, here. [13]

[18] See “From Odd John to Strange Love” in Green Nazis in Space!

[19] Quoted in Lindbergs, loc. cit.

[20] Niven had been Ian Fleming’s model for James Bond; again, he was too old for the role when the movies began to be made, as proven when he essayed the role of the retired Sir James in the abominable Casino Royale spoof the very next year (1967).

[21] On the metaphorphoses of Blofeld, see Jef Costello’s “The Cat is Back! The Spectre Behind S.P.E.C.T.R.E.,” here [14].

[22] There are some traces of this in the novel; Françoise calls Lindsay “an innocent.” As for Philippe’s son, “Oh yes, he knows, the wicked child.” Does Gilles (renamed Jacques in the movie) escape his father’s fate? Lindsay and Françoise attempt a kind of anti-hauntological approach: “They can think of nothing further removed from the baleful influence of Bellac than the money factories of Basel.”

[23] This is not the first such accusation. David Pinner has long claimed that his 1967 novel Ritual was the original basis for the screen play of Anthony Schaffer, who admits to “considering” the novel before concluding it wasn’t “adaptable.” See “Inside The Wicker Man: An Interview with Allan Brown” in Headpresss #20 (ed. David Kerekes, May 2000) and Brown’s book Inside the Wicker Man: The Morbid Ingenuities (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000). Come to think of it, doesn’t that just mean that Ritual is based on Day of the Arrow anyway? The “curse of The Wicker Man” seems to be that of involvement with the Semitic plagues of unending litigation and corporate film distribution outrages; see Phil Tonge’s really quite hilarious account of his quest to find a “complete” cut of the film (extant copies range from a 102 minute sort-of director’s cut to an 87 minute, Roger Corman-inspired cut for Midwest TV station distribution) in his “Cak-Watch Presents: The Wicker Bastard” (Headpress 20).

[24] As Tonge, or the illustrator says, “Hey, look, it’s that twat from The Equalizer. Let’s burn ‘em!”

[25] According to Tonge, op. cit., the longest, 102 minute version includes footage where “Mr. Woodward has more dialogue preaching to the islanders from the confines of the wicker man, to the effect that God is going to do ‘em.”

[26] Is the name changed to suggest the Cathars?

[27] Catharine seems uneasy if not terrified from her very first frame, but, in a Mad Men moment, seems quite carefree about tooling around in a Mercedes convertible, her two children bouncing around unrestrained in the front seat.

[28] Compare: “Is Vladimir Putin immortal? Pictures from almost 100 years ago seem to show him looking fighting fit; Conspiracy theorists have decided that the Russian leader is immortal due to pictures from 100 years ago which show his lookalike.” The Guardian, Dec. 15, 2015, here. [15] Is it witchcraft?

[29] Michael Hoffman II, author of Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare, has been pursuing this aspect of the Kennedy assassination since the ’70s. His essay ‘King-Kill/33’ appeared in the first edition of Adam Parfrey’s conspiracy anthology, Apocalypse Culture. Subsequent editions (including the current Feral House edition), apparently do not carry it. Read an excerpt online here [16].

[30] By contrast, Lois (Miss Moneypenny) was quite convincing in her cameo in the Italian Bond rip-off Operation Double 007 (aka Operation Kid Brother, aka OK Connery) even when firing a machine gun. And I swear that’s “Q” hmself, Desmond Llewellyn, right at the end, but I can’t find him only any cast list, nor the film on his credits.

[31] Both display more originality than the direction or script as such. At one point shadows bring out the “demon” in the “de Montfaucon” carved on a tomb; a nice touch. And a long sequence of some Brit git playing the harp at a some swank gathering at Philippe’s Paris pad gets a Checkovian payoff near the end when a quick shot has the boy looking through a harp’s strings (?) as he gazes at his father for the last time; surely meant to evoke the Traditional symbol of the warp and woof of both Fate and the material universe.