Ritual is a horror novel by British actor and author David Pinner, first published in 1967. The protagonist of Ritual is an English police officer named David Hanlin. A puritanical Christian, Hanlin is requested to investigate what appears to be the ritualistic murder of a local child in an enclosed rural Cornish village. During his short stay, Hanlin deals with psychological trickery, sexual seduction, ancient religious practices and nightmarish sacrificial rituals.
Shrouded in the same brand of mystery and contradiction that forms its tangled plot, Ritual, the 1967 debut by RADA-trained playwright David Pinner is commonly recognised by cult cinema fanatics as the original seed that grew into the towering movie enigma The Wicker Man.
In 1973, Ritual was used as the basis for The Wicker Man, a British horror film directed by Robin Hardy and written for the screen by Anthony Shaffer. Edward Woodward stars as the policeman, renamed Sergeant Neil Howie. Pinner discussed the book in a 2011 interview. “I then sold the film rights of the book to Christopher Lee in 1971 – the basic idea and the structure of it was used for The Wicker Man.”
As a result of the film’s popularity, Ritual became a much sought-after collector’s item, and was being sold for £400 to £500 on eBay. It was not until the 2011 reprint that the novel became widely available.
Watch below the documentary “Burnt Offering — The Cult of the Wicker Man” where the cast and main players in the crew come together to discuss the making of cult British horror film The Wicker Man. They discuss the adaptation of the source material, the casting process and the difficult shoot which dealt with everything from a summer film being shot in late autumn and the troubles of the actual wicker man itself.