Monday, October 21, 2013

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow (USA, 1999) - Color, Director(s): Tim Burton
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 15]
Approx. 105 min.

Z-rating: 4 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 2 stars out of 5

Since we're on the subject of urban legends, here is a story that is extremely popular in America folklore. Written by Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was first published in 1820 and told of a Hessian Horseman who had his head shot off by a cannon during a battle in the American Revolutionary War. His ghost rides around at night lopping off heads to replace the one that he lost. A schoolmaster named Ichabod Crane, biding for the affections of a wealthy farmer's daughter, encounters the Headless Horseman in the woods one night. Crane desperately races towards a bridge, where the Horseman is said to vanish in a "flash of fire and brimstone" if he crosses it. Much to Ichabod's horror, the Horseman crosses it with no trouble and hurls a severed head into his face. The next morning, Ichabod has disappeared from the town leaving behind a few items including his wandering horse and a shattered pumpkin.

This story is so popular that it has spawned countless adaptations in films and TV shows, even Scooby Doo had an episode adapted from this story! There are also many books and re-tellings of this story for children of all ages. This movie is just one of many but with all the stars involved, this is one of the better versions. Christopher Walken is one of the scariest men to ever walk the Earth and to have him appear as a piranha-toothed lunatic in a head chopping frenzy was pure genius. Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, a forensic detective in this version, who is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate decapitation murders. Only after he arrives, is he informed of the supernatural Horseman that haunts Sleepy Hollow. Still believing the Horseman to be a flesh and blood killer, Crane attempts to use his deductive reasoning to find the truth behind the murders. That is until he has an up close and personal run in with the Headless Horseman himself.

Nudity: None that I can remember.

Gore: Many heads are decapitated although we don't see any gushing blood, the open neck wounds can be pretty gruesome. The wounds caused by the Horseman are cauterized by his blade, heated by the fires of Hell. There is a Tree of the Dead that bleeds as it's being chopped by Johnny Depp.

Awesome: Very. This is a great adaptation of the story with a unique Tim Burton twist to it. Burton's influence for this movie came from his love of Hammer films, as seen in casting of Hammer veteran Michael Gough. Even Christopher Lee makes an appearance at the beginning of the film! Overall, the tone of the film is pretty "serious" but the scene with the witch and her googly Roger Rabbit eyes seemed out of place. I think this is a great film to play at a Halloween party if you're looking for a little action with some supernatural flavor.