The Wicker Man
Cast: Nicholas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Leelee Sobieski
Director: Neil LaBute
Running time: 102 minutes
Hanuman rating: hhh
Few moviegoers would know that there was a movie called "Wicker Man" in 1973. Unlike "The Omen" and "The Exorcist", it wasn't a box-office success, but it remains a classic among older horror fans and the British film industry.
So the question is, why make it again?
The answer will remain one of the year's great mysteries, because few viewers have been impressed with the remake.
Director Neil LaBute has transported the setting, originally a remote British island, to America.
The sexually liberal islanders are now a matriarchal society, the better to suit Hollywood's political correctness. Gone are all the references to human sacrifice and ancient fertility rites.
This is despite the fact that LaBute shares the screenplay credits with Anthony Schaffer, who wrote the original script from his novel.
Schaffer is, of course, recognised in the British film world as an outstanding talent. His better-known works include "Sleuth" and "Murder on the Orient Express".
LaBute lacks his credentials, but nevertheless feels no compunction in drastically altering the script in ways that fans of the original will find awkward at best.
In many ways it's merciful almost that Schaffer died in 2001 and can't see the changes made to one of his best works.
All the names of the characters are changed in order for the film to work at all.
The only reason why people will buy tickets is it has a great cast, headed by Nicolas Cage and Ellen Burstyn.
But the original cast of "Wicker Man" was equally sterling - Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt.
The film came out several years before "Omen" and "Exorcist", so it was all the spookier for its time.
Today, with an avalanche of horror fare, most of it pure garbage, the genre has sadly lost much of the seriousness that accompanied earlier efforts.
Oddly, however, both the old and new "Wicker Man" suffered terribly at the hands of silly censors. The original was cut from 99 to 84 minutes, a massive trim by movie standards.
The 102-minute remake has also been shortened to 97 minutes in he US.
Viewers who hate butchered films should try and see both the 102-minute version and the restored version of the British original.