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Sleepy Hollow- Horror Movie Review- (Day 17 of 31)- October Massacre

Sleepy Hollow- Horror Movie Review- (Day 17 of 31)- October Massacre
10.17.2014by: Eric Walkuski
8 10

PLOT: Timid investigator Ichabod Crane is banished to a small village in upstate New York to look into a series of bizarre, gruesome decapitations. What he finds is that certain members of the community have been targeted by a frightful creature known as "The Headless Horseman," and it won't stop until all of them have been on the chopping block.

Sleepy Hollow Johnny Depp Tim Burton Christina Ricci Headless Horseman

READ ALL OF OUR OCTOBER MASSACRE REVIEWS HERE!

REVIEW: I'll be perfectly honest: the first time I saw SLEEPY HOLLOW, I didn't lose my head. Perhaps it was the sheer level of anticipation I felt going in; it was opening day, November 19, 1999. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were both still really cool, and here they were doing an R-rated version of one of my favorite spooky stories. (I was a big fan of "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad"; still am!) When it was over, I had an unshakable feeling of being underwhelmed. Can't quite describe why; perhaps its tone leaned a little too far in the direction of comedy, maybe Depp was a bit too silly, maybe it simply wasn't as flat-out scary as I had hoped it would be. Whatever the reason, I left SLEEPY HOLLOW knowing it didn't live up to my expectations.

Now, I see things differently. It may still not be very scary, but it's a bloody good time, and bloody should be underlined. How many Hollywood movies come along that are this insanely gory? Heads chopped off by the bushel, impalings, bodies being split in two, iron maidens, viscera lashed across the screen with wanton glee: SLEEPY HOLLOW actually doesn't hold back for a minute. And yet, it's all done with a devilish smile on its face; Burton has invited the hopeful fans of BEETLEJUICE and BATMAN to enjoy his latest fantasy world, and is now smacking them upside their heads with unrelenting sights of over-the-top body horror. Hell, he even kills a small child in it! (It's off-screen, but still!)

All of the mayhem comes courtesy, of course, of The Headless Horseman, who comes to life wonderfully thanks to Ray Park and a little bit of movie magic. The legendary apparition is rendered expertly as an ominous figure of destruction, and his every appearance is thoroughly gripping, not to mention nightmarish. We get the added treat of knowing, via flashbacks, that the Headless Horseman once had the head of a razor-toothed Christopher Walken, and if that's not perfection, I don't know what is. If I were a young, burgeoning horror fiend watching this movie - and perhaps that's the intended audience? - then I'd be scared out of my wits by this monster.

What really distinguishes the film, aside from its admirable bloodlust and its cast of distinguished screen vets, is the atmosphere provided by Burton's technical team. The art direction (which rightfully won an Oscar), cinematography and costume design are all stunning, combining to bring us a vivid, gloomy world where skeletal trees loom large, creepy roads are illuminated solely by moonlight and the abodes of the residents seem to have been lifted out of a classic Hammer Horror flick. Aesthetically, the movie is a combination of old-school gothic horror and fantastical storybook. (Or maybe an installment of "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," remember those?) It's just such a pleasure to behold that you forgive it for not being perfect; when a movie has so much ingeniously spooky window dressing, it's best to just appreciate it the view.

Sleepy Hollow Johnny Depp Tim Burton Christina Ricci Headless Horseman

BEST TNA: Christina Ricci's bountiful cleavage is on display quite a bit, as is Miranda Richardson's (if you're into something a little classier).

BEST GORE BIT: Where the hell to start? This is a delightfully gory affair, and even if most of the blood-n-guts are over-the-top and cartoonish, it's still quite macabre for a major studio release. Decapitations everywhere, heads spill out of trees, one fellow gets a fence post through the chest. But the best moment just may be watching poor old Casper Van Dien get sliced in two like a loaf of freshly baked bread by the Horseman.

HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME: Empty a stein of hearty ale into your mouth hole anytime…

  • Johnny Depp's Ichabod acts like a frightened little girl
  • The Horseman gruesomely offs a villager
  • Rick Heinrechs' gorgeous production design makes you pop a horror boner

BUY SLEEPY HOLLOW ON DVD HERE

READ ALL OF OUR OCTOBER MASSACRE REVIEWS HERE!

Extra Tidbit: Production designer Rick Heinrichs and Tim Burton go way back: they met at Disney, and Heinrichs ultimately worked on Burton's short films "Vincent" and "Frankenweenie"!

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+1
5:04PM on 10/17/2014

Always loved it

One of my personal favorites, especially in terms of atmosphere. This is full Burton/Elfman mood setting magic with a gorgeously ominous score and a great, gritty colonial vibe. The story is quirky, creepy and funny with some excellent performances by Burton's regular rogues gallery.. I'd like to think Washington Irving would be proud. HELL, he even managed to throw some black and white stripes on Christina Ricci at the very end. Bravo
One of my personal favorites, especially in terms of atmosphere. This is full Burton/Elfman mood setting magic with a gorgeously ominous score and a great, gritty colonial vibe. The story is quirky, creepy and funny with some excellent performances by Burton's regular rogues gallery.. I'd like to think Washington Irving would be proud. HELL, he even managed to throw some black and white stripes on Christina Ricci at the very end. Bravo
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4:40PM on 10/17/2014

Lisa

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just as Vincent responded I didn't even know that a student able to earn $6975 in a few weeks on the internet . straight from the source- ..... www.Work4Hour.Com
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3:41PM on 10/17/2014

In my book: the death of Burton's visual style

I unfortunately have to disagree with this review. I considered Tim Burton to be my favorite director at the time, before this came out. Sleepy Hollow, in my book, marks his immediate transition from being a director who created unique and visually-stunning films, to one who let the Hollywood machine morph him into a shadow of his former creative self. I LOVED the disney version of Sleepy Hollow as a kid, and it heavily influenced my desire to see this. When I heard Tim Burton directed it, I
I unfortunately have to disagree with this review. I considered Tim Burton to be my favorite director at the time, before this came out. Sleepy Hollow, in my book, marks his immediate transition from being a director who created unique and visually-stunning films, to one who let the Hollywood machine morph him into a shadow of his former creative self. I LOVED the disney version of Sleepy Hollow as a kid, and it heavily influenced my desire to see this. When I heard Tim Burton directed it, I lost my mind in anticipation. I thought: if there was anyone who could make the hollow visually interesting and creepy, as it should be, it was Burton. Then, the film was released, and all of the style and visual appeal you saw in Burton's previous films was no longer there. It was as if a different director had made it. I was devastated, and then when his next film was released (Planet of the Apes), it was clear that the auteur Burton was gone, and replaced by a more "studio-appropriate" version.

Now, in terms of the film's story...I actually got enraged at the end of the film. I am one who absolutely can not stand when films think they have to have a reason for the killer or whatever is happening, when it doesn't warrant one. When they made the Headless Horseman into a **Spoiler alert!** puppet being controlled by some woman because she wanted land, I about lost my s---! It was probably the dumbest motivation and reason I have ever seen in a film. In my opinion, there didn't need to be anything other than the fact that he was a demon that rose to kill! We got his backstory...that was enough! This whole scenario had studio tinkering written all over it, and it completely ruined the film for me. I haven't watched it since....I can't bare to.

So, long lost was the Burton I grew to love...until we saw a glimmer of him with Sweeney Todd. But it wasn't until Frankenweenie came out that I felt he had finally returned to the artist he once was. And it took him going back to his roots to re-discover what he had lost. I now look forward to seeing what he will do next!

End of absurdly-long post!!
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12:12PM on 10/17/2014
I think this is Tim Burton's last great movie (with the exception of Frankenweenie and Corpse Bride). Everything in this movie reminds me of old Hammer films. Tim Burton at his best.
I think this is Tim Burton's last great movie (with the exception of Frankenweenie and Corpse Bride). Everything in this movie reminds me of old Hammer films. Tim Burton at his best.
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