“The Wicker Tree?” (Updated)

This one was an immediate WTF moment for me: Robin Hardy, the writer/director of the original version of the film The Wicker Man (1973), is “reimagining” his film as The Wicker Tree, slated for release sometime this year:

For those who aren’t familiar with the original film, it is undeniably a classic of the horror genre and in my opinion one of the greatest horror films of all time: subtle, atmospheric, darkly humorous, and genuinely horrifying*.

Details are sketchy as it stands; the official movie site is little more than an image right now.  IMDB has the following summary, which may or may not be accurate:

Young Christians Beth and Steve, a gospel singer and her cowboy boyfriend, leave Texas to preach door-to-door in Scotland . When, after initial abuse, they are welcomed with joy and elation to Tressock, the border fiefdom of Sir Lachlan Morrison, they assume their hosts simply want to hear more about Jesus. How innocent and wrong they are.

I’m definitely of mixed emotions about this news.  On the one hand, I’m horrified (and not in a good way); an abysmal remake of The Wicker Man was just recently released in 2006 and illustrates that there is no lower limit on the quality of such projects.  On the other hand, The Wicker Tree is by the original writer/director, and he has seen fit to bring back Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, one of the most inspiring castings of all time.

I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see…

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* Seriously — this film has one of the most cringe-inducing moments of any horror movie I’ve ever seen, and shames a lot of the “extreme” modern horror films.

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Update: As long as I’m talking about unusual movie projects, I see IMDB has a trailer up for the Solomon Kane movie, “based” on the character by Robert E. Howard.  I’m not sure what to think, as yet: it might end up being an enjoyable movie, but it doesn’t look, or sound, much like Howard’s Solomon.  The IMDB summary says a lot:

A mercenary who owes his soul to the devil redeems himself by fighting evil.
Howard’s Solomon is a fanatical Puritan who fights the devil’s works overly wherever he goes!  It is pretty much impossible to imagine that character having made a deal with the devil, as the summary and trailer implies.
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2 Responses to “The Wicker Tree?” (Updated)

  1. I find it really interesting that re-making films strikes such a nerve with people. (And mind you, it strikes my nerves too.) The notion of art as a static phenomenon is such a recent occurrence in human history. Before movies and books and records, you have plays and stories and folk songs, where the performances vary from night to night and from player to player. Now, thanks to print and film and tape and disk, the original creators’ visions becomes a sort of religious canon. Reinterpretations rarely go over well.

    Oh, and on the subject of Solomon Kane, when the Van Helsing movie came out, Brad and I both thought that Hugh Jackman’s character had a whole lot more in common with Robert E. Howard’s puritan warrior than Bram Stoker’s occult scholar.

    • As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided it’s not the principle of remakes that bothers me, but rather the almost exploitative nature of many remakes. So many of them have been so godawful that I suspect that they are really the result of an inferior writer/director trying to cash in on name recognition rather than on the quality of the production. See, for instance, the remake of The Haunting (and every videogame interpretation by Uwe Boll).

      “Reinterpretations rarely go over well.”

      I’m not against reinterpretations, even drastic ones — I enjoyed the recent Sherlock Holmes film, even though I mocked its trailer as generic action movie fare. The problem is that most remakes aren’t really “reinterpretations” at all, but just cheap, shallow copies, usually stripped of any depth and packed with action and special effects as filler. I’m willing to give Robin Hardy the benefit of the doubt, as the original author of The Wicker Man, but even the creators can lose sight of what made their originals great. See, for instance, the director’s cut of “The Warriors”, and George Lucas.

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