Sleepy Hollow

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

By John Roisland

Sleepy Hollow poster

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a story that I hold very true to my heart. People always ask, "What movie was it that got you into horror so much?" It wasn't a movie at all; it was a story that was read to me as a very young child at a public library at a fall festival, and yes it was in New York state, where our legend just happened to have taken place. I can still remember the tone and descriptions given by the reader, the sound of the wind blowing outside on a late fall afternoon, the smell of cinnamon and burning leaves as I was enthralled in this (new to me) classic tale of horror.

From that day forward, I, like every child, looked forward to Halloween, but even more, I looked forward to listening or even watching a cartoon movie short in school of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

In 1999 filmmaker, Tim Burton brought to us on the big screen, his vision of this tale with Sleepy Hollow. Love him or hate him, Burton's work is always extremely imaginative , and dark to say the least. Burton's version is one that I do quite enjoy. Although parts of the tale have been changed. For example, our lead character "Ichabod Crane" in earlier versions, is portrayed as a school master who is trying to win the hand of a young lady, "Katrina Von Tassel", who is haunted and attacked on his way home from a town party. In Burton's adaptation of the classic tale, they are introduced as Crane's character first arrives in Von Tassels small town sent by New York City authorities to investigate a murder - a murder caused by an alleged headless horsemen who rides the stormy nights on his steed seeking revenge on those who killed him. One by one, the headless horsemen runs down his victims, beheading them, just as he is.

Burton's change of storyline slightly from the original American version of the folk lore and in my opinion works beautifully! The story flows and actually helps to make for interesting turn of events through the film. As mentioned, Burton's films always have a dark overtone to them, this time the cinematography is just as dark and is incredible! Set in the fall of the late 1700s, the scenes are dark, dismal, yet beautiful all at the same time! The settings, the props, the outfits, and especially the cloud covering for a northern fall season, are like none I've seen executed nearly as well.


The film's run time is 105 minutes and carries an R rating. The film stars:

Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd, Edward Scissorhands, Tusk) as our hero Ichabod Crane, yes, yet another Depp /Burton film!

Christina Ricci (Monster, Black Snake Moan, The Addams Family)

Miranda Richardson (Empire of the Sun, The Phantom of the Opera (2004), The Crying Game)

Sir Michael Gambon (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Gosford Park)

Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers)

Jeffrey Jones (The Hunt for Red October, Beetlejuice, Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, To the Devil a Daughter)

Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Suicide Kings, The Prophecy, King of New York)

And let me tell you, Walken, who plays our dark horseback riding killer, is brilliant. Even though you only see Walken as the horsemen in the beginning and the ending because the rest of the story he has no damn head (could be anyone), but it was Walken, brilliant as always!

Headless Horseman

No matter how many times the story is altered or put the through the Hollywood shredder, this will always be my all time favorite horror story!

Posted by John Roisland

Horror fan bringing my love for the genre to world in as many forms I can- website, podcast, vlogs, and coming soon, producer! Through this, I am living my nightmarish dreams. Join me.... if you can handle it!

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