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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 19, 2015
Tim Burton breathes new life to the macabre tale of the tormented Ichabod Crane. I have not read the original story but I am a big fan of the classic Disney version and noticed that Burton changed several aspects of the story. The wimpy, laughable, big-nosed school teacher of the original is turned into a sophisticated, charming New York City constable who is called upon by the townspeople of Sleepy Hollow to investigate the mysterious, gruesome be-headings of it's residents. Besides countless severed heads, there is a lot Tim Burton throws at the audience and it's all done with the Burton style that his fans find irresistible. Very few can deny the fact that this film looks great from every angle. It's dark, dreamlike atmosphere inspires awe and dread. From the sinister, mutated trees to the lurking fog that envelopes the dreary landscapes. Visually - it is spellbinding. The cast is also first-rate. Johnny Depp is in sharp contrast physically to the quirky character depicted in the Disney version or the Jeff Goldblum 1980 film but he is very believable in the role and Christina Ricci's pale, angelic features shines even amidst all of the bloodshed. But one of the best characters in the film is the incomprehensible, vicious headless horseman portrayed by the always compelling Christopher Walken.

Parents should take note that despite the fantastic fantasy elements depicted in this film and the quirkiness of the main characters, "Sleepy Hollow" is definitely not for kids. The film leaves nothing to the imagination and the violence and imagery is graphic. But for those old enough and who are fans of the original story and/or of Burton, Depp and Ricci, need to check this out. It's an incredibly violent excursion into a Gothic world of witches, black magic and the walking dead. And thanks to the creative genius of Tim Burton, it's never dull.

**** 1/2
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on June 30, 2004
Tim Burton's films, often praised for the intensity of their mood, bring with them a glimpse of the darker side of the human psyche. His characters are often dis-jointed, dark, but at their core, always human. Often, his films are as centrally located around an individual, quite often the title role of the story....such examples include the title characters of films like "Edward Scissorhands, Jack Skellington of "A Nightmare Before Christmas", and Bruce Wayne in "Batman". It is his central character that the story seems to evolve around, and it is often seen from that perspective, providing the audience a narrative thread that they can relate to throughout the film. The same is true of "Sleepy Hollow".
Loosely based on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, Burton's "Hollow" is seen from the perspective of Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp (formerly seen in Burton's "Edward Scissorhands")), a New York detective/criminal investigator who is sent to the farming community of Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of several of the local townsfolk.
Burton weaves elements of the original "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" into his story, while creating backstory to further develop all the characters, from the families in Sleepy Hollow, to Ichabod Crane, even to the Horseman himself, centralizing the narrative of this story around Crane's investigation into the murders. While in Sleepy Hollow, Crane quickly learns of a conspiracy that seems to exist amongst the principals of the townfolk. With the aid of Young Masbeth (Marc Pickering), whose father was murdered by the Horseman, and Katrina Anne Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), Depp's love interest and daughter of the town's acting governor, Crane's investigation quickly leads him on a hunt that will take them to the very heart of evil, as they learn the fate of the Horseman, a Hessian Mercenary sent to fight in the American Revolution before falling to the sword when betrayed by two mysterious little girls many years before.
Filled with rich imagery, lavishly created special effects, and plenty of genuine frights, "Sleepy Hollow" promises to bring thrills, chills, and plenty of scares. Moreover, though, the story uses horror to aid the story, not replace it. Unlike so many horror movies released in the past ten years, Hollow does not rely on gore to create thrills, but instead, (as with most of Burton's work), it uses subtle mood, growing tension and human vulnerability to really bring the story home in a way that is both terrifying and immensely engaging.
Rated R for violence, gore and brief sexuality, this is not a film for the young. However, for anyone looking for a good scare with a great story, this is the film for you. (NOTE: This film is a departure from the original story by Irving.)
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There are only a handful of movies that I consider to be the true Halloween classsics... and "Sleepy Hollow" is one of them. Loosely adapted from Washington Irving's story, this Tim Burton classic is part romance, part detective story, and part gothic horror -- and Johnny Depp helps elevate it to a brilliant supernatural thriller.

Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to the tiny town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders. He soon learns that the locals believe that a monstrous undead Hessian known as the Headless Horseman is the one who's beheading people. As a rational man of science, Ichabod thinks this is ridiculous... until he has a close encounter with the Horseman after he committed some of his murders.

But Ichabod is still convinced that someone living is controlling the Horseman, and it's all wrapped up in a complex scheme involving a pregnancy, a marriage, a will, and a tangled family tree. But as deaths stack up and heads roll, Ichabod and his orphaned servant Masbeth (Marc Pickering) discover that they are up against evil that they couldn't have even imagined.

"Sleepy Hollow" is vintage Tim Burton, back when he was a little more restrained about said style -- everything is painted in blacks, whites and greys with brief splashes of color (BLOOD!), eerie gothic buildings, and skeletal trees. And there's that little edge of rickety weirdness, especially when Depp whips out his buggy-eyed binoculars.

Now, it's not perfect -- the witch's hentai-tongue/eyeballs always make me burst out laughing. But Burton really infuses this movie with a sense of creeping, bloody horror that gets more and more nightmarish, peppered with moments of bleak humor (Ichabod trying to throttle the Horseman) and some really disturbing beheadings. It's a pretty sharp contrast to the rather sweet, shy romance between Ichabod and his host's daughter, Katrina Van Tassel.

As for Depp, he's absolutely perfect -- he plays Ichabod Crane as a young man with a horrifying past (which is revealed via dreams) and an abiding love for logic, science and reason. He's also pretty nervy, fragile and neurotic; how often do you see movie heroes who faint more often than the heroines?

Christina Ricci is rather wooden at first, but she improves a lot as we discover some of the secrets she keeps hidden. Pickering is excellent as a young orphan who latches onto Ichabod as a surrogate father, and Miranda Richardson is all spidery creepiness as Lady Van Tassel. Also keep an eye out for Christopher Lee, Michael Gambon and Christopher Walken's hilariously over-the-top Horseman.

"Sleepy Hollow" is all creepy atmosphere and weirdness, but it also has a solid story at its center. Blood, magic and a deranged undead horseman, all done with Tim Burton's gothic style.
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on July 1, 2004
In the trend of other Tim Burton films, the complextion of the film is creamy, and satisfying. It tells the common veiwer about Sleepy Hollow, yet puts new tantalizing details in the middle of well known scenes. It finally answers the reader of Washington Irving's book where this terror came from, and why it hunts and why it is indeed "headless". The cast is believable, yet the only weak point is Christina Ricci, who seems to be trying to hard to pull off her role. The cinematography is brilliant, something only Tim could do. It becomes dark at the right moments, and is bright and sugar-sweet when it tells the back story of Johnny Depp's mother, and once again is dark as it learns her fate. This film is not only wonderfully thrilling, but comedic in points where you would think it couldn't. Shall I say, they involve blood squirting, staining, spraying and squirting some more. Johnny Depp is a wonderful pick for this movie, as he gives us exactly what we want from anyone playing Ichabod Crane, plus a little bit more. Have fun, yet do not laugh for too long, or it will surprise with it's random and scary turns.
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on June 29, 2004
Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent from NYC to Sleepy Hollow to investigate 3 grizzly, decapitation murders. Upon arrival, he finds out that the entire town is gripped by superstitious terror. It seems that these were no ordinary killings, and the killer is far from ordinary himself! A headless horeseman roams this place, seeking heads for his collection. The logical Ichabod soon realizes that he's dealing with the supernatural when he comes face to... um, well, shoulders with the dreaded horseman. He figures out that these are not random murders at all, but part of some diabolical conspiracy! Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci) is a young, beautiful witch, who is either out to help or hurt Mr. Crane. Weird happenings, ultra-creepy atmosphere, and perfect casting, make SH a horror classic! Tim Burton has brewed a comic / gothic stew of darkness and dreamlike imagery. Check out Christopher Walken as the hessian! Christopher Lee even makes a cameo as the Burgomaster! There are familar faces from Harry Potter, Star Wars, and, of course, some past Tim Burton epics. Highly recommended...
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on May 28, 2004
I once went to a school called Washington Irving, home of the Headless Horseman. Naturally, I was intrigued to see this movie because I love Tim Burton, Christina Ricci, and of course, who could miss out on Johnny Depp? He was perfectly cast as Ichabod Crane, giving him a comically quirky persona, but those are the type of roles Johnny Depp is known for and pulls it off well.
Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the mysterious beheadings in the town. Armed with his scientific know-how, he marches directly and tactlessly into the investigation, raising the eyebrows of the skeptical villagers. At first he scoffs at the villager's superstitions of a headless horseman, but as more people turn up dead, he begins to doubt his rational explanations. But Crane is detemined to get to the bottom of the mystery. The closer he gets to the truth, the more his life comes close to peril.
With Tim Burton's stunning yet haunting visuals and a wonderful screenplay, you'll be gripping your seat as this foreboding, more athletic version of the headless horseman comes to take the head of his next victim. Who in the town is trustworthy? Who will be next? You don't know until everything is unravelled in the end. Burton and Depp, rejoined for the first time since Edward Scissorhands are both known for their artistic eccentricity. Together they made a smashingly good film. This is the one to watch on Halloween if you want a scary good treat.
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on May 14, 2004
Though very different from its roots, this Sleepy Hollow is the ultimate telling of Irving's tale.This is definatly one of the best directed horror films of all time. The backdrop pays justice to such gothic movies as THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and NOSFERATU.
The uptight yet dashing Ichabod Crane is sent to a small town on the eastern side of the Hudson called Sleepy Hollow. Once you see the town, you are disturbed by the quietness. There is not a sound except for two sheep and one shutting window.Johnny Depp(who plays Crane superbly)looks scared.
He stays at the Van Tassel estate where he meets the richest family in Sleepy Hollow.Katrina Van Tassel(played exceptionally by Christina Ricci)becomes interested in Ichabod as does he to her. Baltus Van Tassel tells the tale of the Headless Horseman to Ichabod, a Hessian soldier who fought for carnage with his piercing eyes and teeth(when I say piercing, I mean piercing.)Of course Ichabod doesn't believe but eventually he does.Keep a sharp eye out for his atopsy instuments.It turns out, though, that Lady Van Tassel's(played deviously by Miranda Richardson)white clothes have a splash of jet black in them.
The scenery with its blue filter is amazing.The woods is presented in a quiet and suspenceful fashion.Watch out for the scene in the Crone's cave.It is the scariest scene in the whole film.The music's performance is hauntingly beautiful. Danny Elfman has made the perfect horror score(I've got the CD.)
Besides the high rate of gore, this certainly a wonderful film. To any who complain that it strays too far away from the original text, I have two things to say. One, it is a new kind of Sleepy Hollow that holds true to everything except the plot. Two, ignore the different storyline and look at how wonderfully this film was put together by Tim Burton.
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on April 24, 2004
Tim Burton is not a master of horror, or at least, those who think he is are probably far too easily horrorified. His movies are about quirky outsiders who don't fit in with an equaly strange world that they are better off without. I would imagine this is pretty much how Tim Burton himself feels.
My take on this movie is that it is infact a comedy. A hauntingly beautifull and surreal comedy, for sure, a morbid and twisted comedy, without question, but in the end, a comedy.
I always feel the edge of a wry wit in Burton's movies, as if he is mocking all those other grandiose, baroque, self-important producers who think of their films as the end-all be-all of both film and art. Clearly Burton doesn't take himself to serriously, but just serriously enough. Why I find this movie so intruigingly funny is that all of the deadpan characters seem to have a detached and ironic appreciation of how ludicrious they themselves are, an appreciation that is external to the movie itself. It's like they are winking at us through out, saying "now remember, it is just a movie." Unlike some directors, Burton keeps his perspective on Hollywood and the real world, not getting too wrapped up in a fantasy that confuses one with the other. That is probably why the movie isn't very scarry, but is, in a very subtle way, quite funny.
One of my favorate roumors was that the script was ghost written by Tom Stoppard. Given it's subdued but cheeky banter, I can see where these rumors come from. It may or may not be true, but either way, it certainly is in the vein of subtle self mockery and delicate sarcasm that has worked so well for both Burton and Stoppard. They are two artists who you can never be sure if they are producing a parody, or the real thing.
Perhaps that I see parody in it, at least partly, says more about me than it does about the movie. I can't say for sure that it was meant to be a comedy, but it is a different way of thinking about the film, and by all means, if you are of the frame of mind, I suggest trying it out.
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on March 24, 2004
This is my all-time favorite movie. Tim Burton's masterful artwork is shown to the maxium in this beautiful film. Based on the famous, yet humorous tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," by Washington Irving, this movie takes that folk tale to a whole new level of suspence and mystery.
Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, a forensic scientist, who is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate several horrific murders, all found with their heads 'removed.' Ichobod, a man of sense and reason, does not believe in the Headless Horesman, who the townspeople say is behind these murders, not until he sees him for himslef. Crane makes several discoveries that leads him to believe that the horesman is being controled by a person of flesh and blood. Ichabod falls head over heels for the mysterious Katrina van Tassel, played wonderfully by the beautiful Christina Ricci, who has secrets of her own.
After much investigating, the person behind these murders is revealed, too much of the audiences suprise.
This movie is fantasic and I whole-heartedly reccomend this book to anyone who is a fan on Tim Burton.
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on February 25, 2004
That and other cheery senitments are waiting to be found in director Tim Burtons' "Sleepy Hollow," an errie, stylish and smart slice modern horror. Though "Hollow" may not be grab-your-seat-for-dear-life terrifying, the suspense is palpable and if you give the movie a chance, the tension and creepiness slowly seeps into your skin, and stays there.
Bouyed by Burton's unmistakeable visual storytelling style, the plot methodically plays out, leading Constable Ichabod Crane (Burton regular Johnny Depp), from his comfort zone of logical reasoning to far more uneasy territory: A Headless Horseman loose in the small rural town of Sleepy Hollow cutting off heads almost at random...or is he? Crane if baffled as to the reasons why, but he still finds time to develop a relationship between himself and a local noblewoman (Christina Ricci) while he investigates old grudges and conspiracies that lead to an unexpected, but senisble conclusion.
The cast here is outstanding, led by Depp, whom I am enjoying more with every new role I find him in. His cautious Crane is a far cry from his turn as the flamboyant Jack Sparrow, but Depp is so achingly convincing you forget he ever donned eye-liner and a dingy three-cornered hat. Ricci is effective, but next to Depp she is unfortunately dwarfed. Chistopher Lee and Christoper Walken make brief appearances in the film, as a judege and the horsemen respectively. Lee presides over his court with stately arrogance and Walken is devilishly deranged as the mad Horseman (When the horseman appears with his head of course).
Visually the film is wondrous. The cinematography is breathtaking, giving a surreal gothic look to the film. Sets are gorgeously designed from the dank town to some very creepy woods. The film is also superbly edited, and the visual effects are just about seamless. The horseman sequences are well-executed pieces of CGI (despite the occasional gore, one sees every head sliced off), and Crane's flashbacks to a troubled childhood are a feast for the eyes as well (albeit a bloody one). But the gore cannot bring down a brilliantly crafted horror story, with a refreshing intelligence that puts most other horror films today to shame.
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