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Sleepy Hollow (1999) Movie Review

Article by FisterRoboto of lefthandhorror.com

Directed by Tim Burton

Based on the original story by Washington Irving

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Lee, and Casper Van Dien

Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitation of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.

This film hooked me from the poster all the way down to the closing credits. Depp and Burton continue their prolific and iconic presentation in 1999’s incredible retelling of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, first published in 1820. Burton’s version spins the origins into a new light. Crane (Depp) is the big city forensic detective dispatched to the small burg of Sleepy Hollow after a series of grisly murders. Quick to disprove the existence of something so frightening as a headless horseman, Crane utilizes modern-day procedures and devices to solve the murders. Well, so he thinks. Medically advanced or not, the existence of this horseman becomes obvious, and Crane rushes to find who’s pulling his undead strings.

If you own this on Blu Ray, it should be an October tradition in your house. Burton’s artistic style is so well-defined in this film that it’s ridiculous. Brimming with creepy Jack O’ Lanterns, languidly drifting gray skies, atmospheric fog, and era set design – Sleepy Hollow is a contemporary classic. Crane’s easily frightened demeanor provides an effective contrast to the horrors that come. Even for such a hard-core horror film, the comedy is within the correct parameters needed to punctuate the film without taking away from the decidedly insidious nature.

Portraying the human version of the horseman is Christopher Walken as the bloodthirsty Hessian Horseman, a warrior so barbaric that he’s personally picked as the villain’s undead assailant. If he doesn’t bother you in this role, then your horror balls are bigger than mine. He was perfectly cast imho. On the opposite end of Walken is Ray Parks (Darth Maul) as the Headless Horsemen. The first shot of him atop his galloping steed is epic for the film and fans of horror. Not retired to merely direct his horse upon his victims and let them off with a quick flash of the sword, he leaves his ominous steed to fight in close combat. Parks silent (and literally headless) delivery is a deal sealer for me. Some of his kills generated cheers from the theater and I still get goosebumps with every viewing.

Christina Ricci glows as Katrina Van Tassel, a witchy young girl who has her own unique talents to protect Crane. Throw in some Christopher Lee and a supporting cast of seasoned actors, and Burton achieves an atmospheric chiller that remains a favorite to this day. Even if you hate the story, you have to love the visual feel of the movie. I know it’s cool to hate on Depp and Burton now, (and an argument could be made for this based on Dark Shadows) but this movie is amazing from every angle. Light a Jack O’ Lantern, sip on a thick stout and let the film work it’s very real magic. Fister Approved and then some.

About Fister Roboto (2239 Articles)
Just ring it up with the dong tea...

4 Comments on Sleepy Hollow (1999) Movie Review

  1. This is an excellent adaptation. 🙂

  2. This is my fave Burton/Depp pairing, and Christopher Walken as the Hessian is outstanding. The film is more violent than Burton’s usual faire making it more on the horror side than the usual dark fantasy films he does. From a child I loved the story and the Disney cartoon adaptation, so this was fantastic for me when it came out.

    • 100% agree, Even the violence was required; it wasn’t thrown in just to be shocking. The blood splattering across the pumpkin made me cheer at the theater. It’s great to the core.

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