50 Years Ago on May Day

Word is starting to get out about The Wicker Man.  One of the most intelligent of horror movies, it turns fifty this year.  Aware of the coming anniversary, I pitched a volume in the series Devil’s Advocates on the movie a few years back.  I was delighted that my take on the film was unique enough to qualify and my volume has now appeared on Liverpool University Press’ website.  And, as an added bonus, a blog post I guest wrote on the book will also appear shortly.  And it’s May Day.  The Wicker Man is the third person of the unholy trinity of folk horror.  The other two films are Witchfinder General and The Blood on Satan’s Claw, both of which I’ve reviewed here.  But 1973 was also the year another person of another unholy trinity, The Exorcist, was released.  This other trinity began with Rosemary’s Baby and concluded with The Omen.  If you’re curious about it, I wrote quite a bit about it in Holy Horror.

Fiftieth-year anniversaries are significant, given how young the film industry is.  Depending on the publisher, it may be difficult to get advance notice out.  My colleague Joseph Laycock, along with Eric Harrelson, wrote The Exorcist Effect.  This is a book I’m very excited for, although it’s not yet on its publisher’s website.  Academic publishing can be slow that way.  Another fiftieth anniversary Wicker Man book is coming out in October—John Walsh’s The Wicker Man: The Official Story of the Film.  The publisher, Titan books, not hampered by university press processes, had the book well advertised a couple of months back.  I’m looking forward to reading that one as well.  These fiftieth anniversary books are a boon for those who watch intelligent horror.

Academic publishers, you see, classify books in different ways than trade publishers do.  If you’re not sure what a trade publisher is, it is essentially anyone whose books you see in actual bookstores.  Academic publishers tend to focus on library sales and sales to academics who are willing to shell out fifty, a hundred, or sometimes more, bucks for a book.  (In my teaching days, although we had no expense budgets at Nashotah House, I would occasionally (very rarely), after careful family consultation, shell out the academic press price for a book I needed for research and the library wouldn’t buy.)  My last three books have been written for wider readerships, but have been published by academic presses.  On this fiftieth anniversary year, I’m planning on reading a couple of good books.  And thinking about May Day fifty years ago.

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