Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a classic ghost story that goes hand-in-hand with Halloween, and there have been hundreds of different adaptations over the years. I’ve already included Disney’s animated version from 1949 on this countdown, and today I’m going to show you this vastly different take on the story from director Tim Burton, simply titled Sleep Hollow.
It seems hard to believe this was released thirteen years ago; I can remember clearly when this movie was new and going to see it in theaters. Back in 1999, Tim Burton was still in the good graces of the movie-going public. This was only his third time putting Johnny Depp in the lead role of his film, as opposed to his current total of eight. Eight! Still, I do feel this movie is a bit underrated, and I suspect it suffers from a little retroactive Tim Burton hate. When the guy keeps making the same movie over and over again, it tends to cast a negative light on his total body of work, and gems like Sleepy Hollow get passed over.
Sleepy Hollow stars Johnny Depp (no shit) as protagonist Ichabod Crane and Christina Ricci AND her giant forehead as his love interest, Katrina Van Tassel. I’m assuming everyone is familiar with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, so I won’t bother delving too much into this movie’s plot. But there are a lot of differences that make this version unique, for example, Ichabod Crane is a police constable investigating a series of grisly murders in in Sleep Hollow as opposed to a superstitious schoolmaster. There’s no Brom Bones, romantic rivalry, or merry Halloween parties. Overall it’s a much darker, sinister take on The Headless Horseman’s tale, and just in case you can’t already tell, yes, it is a horror film. I don’t want to say anything more about its difference because we’d quickly tread into spoiler territory, and this film does have a pretty big twist I don’t want to ruin for you.
I love this movie for a lot of reasons, but atmosphere is the main one. I was reading on Wikipedia about how much trouble the production crew went through to find the perfect filming location for the town of Sleepy Hollow, having scouted locations all over New England before deciding to move the production to England, and then ending up having to build the entire town from scratch anyway to achieve the perfect look and feel. I find filmmaking insights like that fascinating because it shows how much thought and effort goes into something we consume with our eyes in a matter of seconds. This film is gorgeous to look at and you can tell it was lovingly handled by all who had a hand in its visuals.
Personally, I would love it if Tim Burton would get back to making horror films like Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd instead of continuing to “Burton-ify” family-friendly classics like Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Dark Shadows doesn’t count.) And as much as I love Johnny Depp, enough already with the putting him in every single one of your goddamn films, Tim. Please?
Spoiler: The Headless Horseman Loses His Head
Here’s Christopher Walken getting his head chopped off. God this movie is awesome.
What is 31 DVDs of Halloween?
As a special feature for the Halloween Countdown, I’m showcasing 31 Halloween DVDs from my personal collection. I have a lot of Halloween-related and horror DVDs in general, but for this year’s countdown I’m only going to focus on my absolute favorites–the ones I consider 100% essential for my enjoyment of the holiday.