Sleepy Hollow
Dir: Tim Burton
Star: Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, Michael Gambon
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1999
Format: DVD R2

1799 and New York police constable Icabod Crane ((Johnny Depp) is assigned by the local magistrate (Christopher Lee) to direct his scientific an inquisitive mind to solving a series of bizarre murders in a small town called "Sleepy Hollow". Several key citizens of the town have been found dead with their heads cut clean off and the missing appendages have never been found. Crane travels to Sleepy Hollow where he discovers the small close knit community gripped by the fear of an old local legend of a demonic headless horseman. Initially believing this foolish superstition is merely a smokescreen for the real murderer to disguise themself, Crane pursues the case and makes some terrifying discoveries especially the fact that the headless horseman is not just a silly fairytale.....

Tim Burton's ghoulishly dark vision of the classic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving steeps itself into this dark fairy tale to produce a new view of this classic story. Fabulous direction by Burton in his typically skewed gothic style. Beautiful photography with some simply stunning visual fare that bears a distinct silent movie feel with heightened lighting and purposeful direction. All of which compliments the fantastic production design courtesy of Rick Heinrichs that is lavish in it's intricate detail and splendour.

A stunning cast all provide excellent performances as you would expect with a cast of such a high calibre. A veritable who's who including Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson and of course Christopher Walken as the dreaded "headless horseman". As most viewers will no doubt recognise much of the moves, I should point out though that most of the actual scenes requiring the horseman to actually be headless were played by Ray Park probably best known as Darth Maul from Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Johnny Depp provides a very good performance as Ichabod Crane and bears the brunt of much of the films dark humour. In another of his excellent quirky performances, at almost every oppurtunity he gets squirted with blood to great comedic effect and you just can't help having a little chuckle as this terribly squeamish character is subjected to all manner of gory experiences. A suitably bewitching performance by Christina Ricci despite not really suiting blonde hair she gives a fine performance. The brief performance at the beginning of the film by the one and only Christopher Lee can only be described as commanding and his voice just has that certain quality to makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It would have been nice to see a little more of him but the ample acting talent assembled for the film more than makes up for it. The main question is thogh, what was Jeffrey Jones wearing on his head?

Sleepy Hollow is well paced and a wonderfully 3 dimensional and superbly atmospheric film. The screen adaptation of the story by Kevin Yagher who also provides some fantastic make up effects and Andrew Kevin Walker (8MM) is an interesting spin but manages to remain true to the spirit of the original book. I was a little unconvinced by the inclusion of a "love story" within the film but it works quite well here. The film manages to encapsulate an air of ominous foreboding throughout and results in a fantastic and macabre presentation. As usual the grand musical score by Danny Elfman accompanies Burtons visual feast to great effect. On the whole I have to admit, this is a charming and enjoyably haunting piece of film making, one for any fans of ghost stories and folklore.


Heads Will Roll.


Ichabod Crane: We have murders in New York without benefit of ghouls and goblins.
Baltus Van Tassel: You are a long way from New York, constable.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Sharp crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Excellent
Features Cool animated menus
2 Theatrical trailers
Very cool commentary by Tim Burton even if he does have a few long pauses
Picture gallery
Cast & Crew Biographies
"Behind The Legend" - Behind the scenes featurette
"Reflections on Sleepy Hollow" - Cool Featurette with the cast and crew
Various Trailers
Verdict Very cool disc with some good extras. Tim Burton should have had at least one of the cast to help him with the commentary track but it is still an enjoyable release.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home