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A Superb Version of Washington Irving's Classic Horror Story
bonnie916 May 2006
The movie, Sleepy Hollow, embodies Tim Burton's unique take on one of the most well-known horror tales of all time, with a few new plot twists and greater character development, including a dark past for Ichabod Crane and a "story behind the story" of what's going on in the haunted town, which is beautifully rendered, dark and foggy for an eerie atmosphere.

The dream cast puts in great performances, but obviously it's Johnny Depp who steals the show with his intuitive and sometimes over-the-top portrayal of the anti-hero, Ichabod Crane, who displays admirable bravery while at the same time often succumbing to fear.

The lavish production, masterful acting, background music, beautiful periodic sets and costumes and the careful attention to detail, most notable in the special effects used to bring the headless horseman "to life", if you will, all come together to tell the tale of Sleepy Hollow's plight and deliverance as it's never been told before. It's unlikely that this cinematic version will ever be surpassed. Superb!
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Strangely comical, yet still an excellent film.
thegin25 January 2000
Any reservations that I had about the film being be a turkey, were almost immediately quelled upon seeing the movie. From the offset Mr. Depp throws himself into the role of Icabod Crane with enthusiasm and gusto; portraying excellently a man of "science" suddenly out of his depth in legend. Christina Ricci also plays the role of Katrina van Tassel superbly; a sure sign of good things to come from this talented young actress.

I would be reluctant to call this film an outright horror film - the special effects are used primarily to enhance the plot and visual appearence, and the gore level is low. The visual detail is a masterpiece - the sets are fantastic and lighting brilliant. Tim Burton has superbly used music and suspense to build the thrill in the film. However, the comical interjections provide the required break-up of the suspense.

All in all a very well put together film, with solidly good acting, and most of all a superb plot. Well worth seeing!
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A truly stunning film
asgeir19 November 1999
Tim Burton has done it again. It seems he can't really go wrong; especially when he's paired with Johnny Depp. Sleepy Hollow is the most visually stunning movie I have seen this year. The production is gorgeous in every way; the cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, the set design is incredible and the way Burton uses the color red to accentuate the lack of color and dreariness otherwise experienced in Sleepy Hollow is a visual treat. This movie is just absolutely beautiful to watch. The performances are flawless, I have to commend Burton for using such a great array of underappreciated character actors, such as Jeffrey Jones and Michael Gough.. and even poor little Casper Van Dien; the man just can't seem to get any respect (and he doesn't here either). Ricci is wonderful in a role totally against type, and Depp is refreshing as ever. Christopher Walken is just the coolest guy ever, and as the Headless Horseman he's even scarier than normal. The best thing, though, is Danny Elfman's music. Why on earth doesn't the man have an Oscar yet? What is going on?? He should at least get a nomination for this one.
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A great interpretation of a great classic
Neo-10720 November 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed this collaboration between Tim Burton, Andrew Kevin Walker and Washington Irving. Combining such incredible talents as Mr. Burton and Mr. Walker proved quite the appropriate recipe for recreating the Irving classic. I have read may other comments about this movie and I find it very disturbing that most people either compare it to Star Wars: Phantom Menace or complain that it is too far removed from the original story.

For these people I have a few comments. First, the only connections and comparisons to Star Wars are the actor Ian McDiarmid and the actor/stuntman Ray Park. Beyond that there is nothing within this movie that comes remotely close to a comparison to Star Wars. In my opinion this movie was better than that box office behemoth. If *****had spent as much time on his script for ***, perhaps it would have been as intriguing as Sleepy Hollow. Next, for those who were not satisfied with the movie's departure from the Irving classic I have but one piece of advice: read the story again. Washington Irving was masterful at creating scenes and setting atmosphere but The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was a 20 page examination of the little village and the loves of Ichabod Crane (women, food, writings et al) The Horseman, though mentioned a handful of times, did not appear until the last couple pages and then it alluded to the idea that Brom Bones was the culprit, in disguise, to frighten the poor hero Ichabod.

There have been other writings and interpretations of the Sleepy Hollow story that focus more on the spectral form of the Headless Horseman. I believe this movie was done in the spirit of those other works and is among the best. It brings to life the setting of this little valley and attempts to recreate the feeling that Washington Irving described best in his story. It was indicated that Sleepy Hollow was a magical and dream like place, thus the name "Sleepy Hollow." In this little upstate valley the strangest things occur and such ghosts and goblins roam freely if only in the mind of the inhabitants. Tim Burton manages to capture that sensation and allows the audience to feel as if they stepped not into a theater, but another world.

Andrew Kevin Walker's workup and translation of the story also makes for a compelling movie. Allowing the changes for the movie adaptation were a sign of genius. Displacing the hero and introducing him to the Sleepy Hollow atmosphere along with the audience, enhanced the experience. Giving a clear background for the Horseman, which is only briefly provided in the original story, was also an improvement to the movie's story. Let's face it, if they had made a 105 minute movie that tried to replicate the original short story there would have been whole theaters full of "sleepy" patrons.

The acting was also superb giving a hand to Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci for fabulous performances. As for the rest of the cast? Fantastic. To see all of these wonderful actors in secondary roles was a treat. Starting with Christopher Lee as the chief magistrate in New York; Jeffrey Jones, Michael Gough, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson and even Casper Van Dien all did magnificent work.

Though the story lagged at moments, they were few and far between. The editing in the beginning was a bit choppy but ran more fluently after the 20-30 minute point. An excellent adaptation of a great story. This was definitely a movie that Burton was born to make.
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A visual masterpiece, pure Tim Burton. ***1/2 out of ****
Movie-1216 December 1999
SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) ***1/2

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, and Christopher Walken Director: Tim Burton Running Time: 102 minutes Rated R (for graphic horror violence and gore, and brief sexuality)

By Blake French:

Tim Burton is just about as good as they get in the movie business when it comes to creating an atmospheric world to inhabit specific characters. "Sleepy Hollow" is the perfect kind of movie for his directional Midas touch; it resembles the best of Burton in every way. In the film, an adaptation based on a story by Washington Irving called The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, he captures the slumbering, creepy village of Sleepy Hollow with vivid details and imaginative description. The way everything is presented, the trees look like something out of a fairy tale and the scenery represents deception in a mysterious wonderland, is what makes this production one of the years most captivating and magical film experiences.

Some of the visual credit should also be given to the film's Cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, and the credited production designer, Rick Heinrichs. These elements contribute a great deal of success to Burton's masterpiece. Both the design and Cinematography are some of the best seen all year, and deserve a hard earned Oscar Nomination. They make the film intriguing and visually stimulating.

The film takes place in the late 1700's, in New York. Constable Ichabod Crane, a timid and but smart man played by Johnny Depp, is assigned to investigate a series of grizzly murders in a nearby town called Sleepy Hollow. He's rather concerned about his latest task, however, due to the content of the killings. The victim's heads have been sliced, in one clean sweep, straight from their bodies. He accepts his duties, and travels by horse and carriage to the isolated village.

Once Ichabod arrives, the locals, including Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson), Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon), Brom Van Brunt (Casper Van Dien), and Reverend Steenwyck (Jeffrey Jones), greet him with eagerness. They explain the legend of the headless horseman, who is supposedly causing the murders in their town. At first he is skeptical. Then, after witnessing a victim losing their head personally, he arrives at the conclusion that a headless horseman is responsible for the tragic catastrophes accruing. Ichabod soon meets Katrina Van Tassel, an innocent looking, self spoken young woman who may have some advice, as well as several secrets of her own.

The Headless horseman is a perfect portrayed villain for "Sleepy Hollow." He is brute, oversized, and roughly textured with outwear. The actor who brings him to life when his head is on is perfect for the role; Christopher Walken. For some odd reason, however, popular film critic Roger Ebert reluctantly refused to tell his readers the name of the actor, thinking it would give something away. Well, I am sorry, Mr. Ebert, but it isn't that hard to find this information elsewhere. The filmmakers are not trying to hold Walken as a secret. Stating he stars as the headed horseman gives nothing away. One must see his performance and make up for themselves to even imagine what material the film's bad guy brings forth.

Tim Burton's direction is focused and wonderfully observant here. The murder sequences are gory and violent, but never way over the top. Burton never losses sight of his main characters, has a good idea about what he wants to place in film, and the special effects do not distract his ability to do so. He has a knack for allowing an audience to become involved with his pictures. We must think for ourselves, figuring out nuggets of the plot on our own, without the projectors help. He has demonstrated these techniques before in such films as "Edward Scissorhands," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and even the best Batman film yet, "Batman Returns."

Johnny Depp offers an Oscar worthy performance as Ichabod Crane. He brings the squeamish role to life effortlessly with striking details and perfect form. He is flawlessly cast, as well as Christina Ricci, who also acts with style and poignancy. Compliments also go out to splendid costuming the actors are permitted to wear.

Although "Sleepy Hollow" offers lots of creepy impressions, the film is far from being very scary. Some moments do generate some minor thrills, but for the most part, the production is not as terrifying as it could have been. Much of it lacks momentum and build-up for the dozen or so graphic beheadings that take place. Burton could have easily loaded his picture with bombarding amounts of shock value, suspense, and tension filled fright, but instead goes for all out violence, plot, and mystery. Not that this effects the overall production. This is more of an atmospheric movie than a scream feast. The atmosphere is certainly above the average.

The conclusion of "Sleepy Hollow" works in a bizarre, but unpredictable fashion. The climax occurs unexpectedly and excitingly, with much surprise and special effects. The film's foreshadowing is effective, but regardless of how experienced of a filmgoer you are, this is one ending that is not meant to be figured out before it takes place. It is one of the preferred closings I've seen in a while. Despite a few personal objections, "Sleepy Hollow" is a brilliantly crafted work of art--one of the years better films.

Brought to you by Paramount Pictures.
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Thoroughly enjoyable
Lucky Strike13 January 2000
Tim Burton has again proved his worth with a masterpiece of gothic horror. The whole way the film is made is excellent, from the way the special effects are used to enhance the story, rather than sell the movie, to the superb acting of the entire cast. I must confess I was a little reluctant at first to see Johnny Depp in the lead role, but from the outset my mind was changed as he threw himself enthusiastically into the part with exactly the right mix of assumed self confidence tempered by a realistic portrayal of a man hopelessly out of his depth in the situation in which he finds himself.

The story, the sets, the special effects and most of all the cast and director make this a film well worth seeing, definately the best thing out of Hollywood in a very long time. Other directors take's not how big the budget, it's what you do with it. A turkey stuffed with gold is still a turkey, but this film is pure gold, without a hint of poultry.

Why are you still here? Go and see this film immediately.
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Intense Mystery, Magic, and Horror
pixie46819 November 1999
Tim Burton has brought this timeless classic to life! "Sleepy Hollow" is a very fine film, with horrific delights, a touch of romance, and witty humor. I was very impressed with the cinematography and the elaborate costumes in this film. Also, the music and sound effects complimented this frightening and legendary story of the murderous Headless Horseman. Overall, I believe this is an excellent film and will definitely be remembered as a landmark in the thriller/horror genre of film.
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Gothic masterpiece
tasha10695 January 2000
Drawing from his Gothic roots (Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas) Burton has created a truly chilling horrific fantasy that keeps you guessing at every turn. The use of special effects is seemless and yet again, as in his other films, Burton excels at creating a whole look and feeling for the piece. He has managed to re-work the classic horror genre staying true to his own highly personal style and catering to post- Wes Craven cinema audiences' cynicism without taking itself too seriously a la Blair Witch. It is so refreshing to see the work of an art-house genius who hasn't let a big hollywood budget get to his head. Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci give charming performances as ever, as do rest of the assembled anglo-Brit. star-studded cast. They all look like they had a ball, as will you!
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Dark, Comic, Evil, Tense, Tim Burton...
Lord_Fug4 January 2000
I just saw Sleepy Hollow in an advanced Preview show in the UK. I went with a couple of mates, all of whom had seen some Tim Burton before but only I was a big fan. I simply love Tim Burton's surreal style of directing and of all the films I've seen of his (Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissor Hands, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, etc.) I thought only Mars Attacks! Was less than superb. ESH for example has a superbly innocent atmosphere to it but it extremely dark at times. So now, with the release of a new Tim Burton film (of a story I remember fondly from the old Disney Cartoon of the 50's) I was rather excited to see it! And so, I sat in the darkened cinema at my local Multiplex and was amazed. From the dark and mysterious opening to the more humour-spiked yet no less horrific end this is one of my favourite films ever! I'm a big horror film fan and was so looking forward to seeing what take Tim Burton would have a true horror film. My god, he did well. The look of the piece is both extremely dark and evil (the Horseman kills men, women and children with equal relish) but it retains scenes of beautiful, dreamlike states once again making good use of Mr. Burton's own thoughts and visions. It's a very funny film too. Depp is great as an Englishman (only slipping into American twang in one syllable early on in the movie) who will battle the horseman and inspect headless, beetle filled corpses with gusto but then leap onto a chair, screaming when he sees a spider! Christina Ricci was also very good. Usually, her parts are beautiful yet rather evil characters that look innocent and pure until you look into her eyes…not this time though. She just looks, well, sweet! She's softly spoken, and very caring and that's it, no daggers in the pupils, no sly frowns to the camera. Christopher Walken made the small role he had in the headless horseman (he played him on the few occasions he actually had a head) his own with his usual evil visage and a load of screaming! Plus nastily shaved down teeth. The real masterstroke of this film though, or at least its main bad guy is the use of Ray Park. For those of you who saw Episode One and enjoyed the lightsabre battle at the end, Ray Park was Darth Maul! He brings a very modern look to the fighting, most scenes are fought with a sword in one hand and an axe in the other! Its like a medieval John Woo! But almost every time that he gets hold of a weapon he does some kind of stylish one-handed flip to the sound of wonderfully over-the-top swish sounds! The deaths, most of which decapitations of course, are all seen onscreen in their full, gory glory. Not a single piece of blood escapes the cameras here! The film really does have a lot of blood in it but it's a kind of comic book redder than red blood, which adds to the whole films not quite real feel. The cinematography is once again, from Burton, superb. The vile smog0filled 18th century New York and the Scarecrow at the beginning. My god, the scarecrow, its so evil! Onscreen for a second but its image lasts… But anyway, in short, this is a fantastic film. Burton has never done anything this visually eye-popping before (take a bow Industrial Light & Magic). The plot is both intriguing and whimsical, the acting excellent, it has a cameo from Hammer Horror master Christopher Lee and it boasts one of the most evil, most frightening, most superbly realized supernatural baddies I've ever seen…and I've seen plenty! Go see this film if you like horror or you just want some fast-paced fun… 9 out of 10
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Looks fantastic but never quite engages as it should
Prichards1234529 October 2016
I found this a little hard to pin down but if there is a problem with Sleepy Hollow then it probably lies with Johnny Depp and the depiction of supernatural fantasy here without ever making it convincing. Depp is all over the place in this one, adopting a comic tone in a movie that really shouldn't have one, and coming across like a poor man's Bob Hope than anything else. His frequent fainting is ridiculous.

To make the supernatural convincing in movies you need to build up to it and handle it carefully; but Tim Burton just throws it at the viewer, making it far less believable (and effective) than it could have been.

The main compensations in the film are how jaw-droppingly Gothic-gorgeous it looks (almost taken for granted when Tim Burton's the director), and the chance to see some great old actors do their stuff. Christopher Lee, Michael Gambon, Michael Gough (yayy the star of Konga is back!) etc give it an air of class, and Christopher Walken is genuinely creepy as the horseman.

Burton's main weakness is that he struggles to tell his story as well as he might - probably only in Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood (maybe he should film MR. ED next!) does he keep the narrative on an even keel. And yet his love of horror films is so genuine it comes through in every frame. The windmill used at the film's climax is surely an homage to both Frankenstein and The Brides of Dracula. If only Depp had played it straight the movie might have worked much better.
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Gore-ror film, thin on fright and plot
storyteller-525 January 2006
Having seen Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, as well as knowing about other Tim Burton films (Nightmare Before Christmas, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Mars Attacks, etc.), you'd think going into a film such as this that not much could really put you off. Wrong. Despite how I rate it, this film is entirely watchable...maybe even two or three times compared to some other films out there. But, to me, it falls short on several fronts.

First, I'm a big-time reader and I thoroughly enjoyed Washington Irving's short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." So I was disappointed in that this film made more or less no attempt whatsoever to follow that story. In Irving's story, Ichabod Crane moves to the area and is a school teacher. In this movie, he is a constable sent from New York to investigate three murders by decapitation.

Second, part of the allure of the short story is Crane's infatuation with Katrina Van Tassel and the friction this causes between him and Katrina's would-be lover "Brom Bones" (Abraham van Brunt). The story alludes to the fact that perhaps the headless horseman is indeed Brom Bones scaring Crane (the Disney cartoon actually hints at this as well); the movie allows no such character interplay.

Third, the whole point of this movie seems to be the mindless decapitation of people. And there is a lot of it. A LOT. Men, women, and one child (though the child's decapitation takes place, thankfully, off-screen). And it is gory. Not a whole lot of blood, but plenty of flesh. If you're squeamish at all, that's a good enough reason to avoid this film.

Fourth, the evil character's recitation of motivation (a staple among Saturday morning cartoons from 20 years ago, but grossly out of place in a 21st Century movie) at the film's end is drivel. It could have been shortened, "figured out," and almost entirely left out -- although it did allow for one more beheading on camera. Whopee.

Fifth, the script (and acting) is pretty poor. Now, I like Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) and I think the guy is great at playing unusual characters, but his performance here reminds me of an Al Gore speech. Because he's done so much so well, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and just blame the script. In fact, you can pretty much blame the script for the whole movie.

Not all is bad in this film. The swordplay by the horseman is excellent. The special effects are pretty well done (some are meant to make you laugh, but just come across as cheesy). And there is the neat bow-tie at the end as the villain gets it and the good guy goes home happy. Again, it's entirely watchable, just not that good.
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Great version
ronbell-2398413 June 2021
Loved this, very dark with some amusing parts. One of Depps better movies.
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Stunning version of Washington Irving novel with particular Tim Burton style
ma-cortes5 November 2007
Enjoyable version about known Washington Irving's novel, titled ¨The legend of Sleepy Hollow¨. It concerns on Ichabod Crane(excellently personified by Johnny Depp). He's a N.Y. constable assigned to investigate brutal murders in a little town named Sleepy Hollow. Crane is housed by Balthus Van Tassel(Michael Gambon), whose beautiful daughter(Christina Ricci) falls in love for him. At the beginning Crane denies to believe that a rider without head committing the grisly killings, but he's early convinced when seeing the graphic evidence of his own hands. Meanwhile, wealthy authorities and rich proprietaries (Richard Griffiths,Ian McDiarmid,Michael Gough,Michael Gambon) from village reunite to planning and defending against the amazing beheaded creature.Finally, all it leads to an unexpected twist and breakthrough ending on what's happened before.

This is an agreeable and effective film, still has shock value from grisly killings .It's proceeded with a Burton style and containing colorful images and wonderful dreams with Burtonized narrative. The movie is plenty on suspense, thriller, grisly terror and sensationalistic set pieces horror when the decapitations take place. Wide use of gore and now famous decapitation , for those who like this kind of things. Casting frankly extraordinary with several famous actors and exceptional secondary cast and special cameos by Martin Landau and Christopher Lee .Glimmer cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki and sensational musical score by Danny Elffman, both are Burton's usual. The film is lavishly produced by Francis Ford Coppola-Zeotrope studios- and Kevin Yagher-famous makeup expert- .The motion picture is marvellously directed with visual style and fair-play by the great Tim Burton. Rating : Magnificent flick and better than average.
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Not perfect, but very, very close
RobT-231 March 2000
First of all, the so-so parts: While Christina Ricci's cool portrayal of Katrina gives the character an appropriately otherworldly aura, she really could have used more fire at emotional moments. Some scenes are unduly rushed, including a few with crucial exposition, making the plot hard to follow at some points. Finally, Danny Elfman's music is too intrusive at times, distancing viewers when they should be drawn in.

That's ALL that's wrong with this picture; everything else is perfect or nearly so. Tim Burton's films are always visually rewarding, and this one has terrifically moody atmosphere. Having lived in hilly, wooded areas close to rivers and creeks, I can testify that there are indeed places that look and feel a lot like the Sleepy Hollow of this movie. Many scenes have so little color that they might almost as well be in black-and-white; this makes the few splashes of color (flames, witchcraft symbols, and of course blood) much more striking. One understands how the movie got an Oscar for art direction.

The plot, which as you probably know varies drastically from Washington Irving's original story, is diabolically complex and closer to a mystery/thriller than horror as such. It reminded me of the fiction of Avram Davidson, a noted fantasist with a penchant for complex mystery plots.

Anyway, back to the movie. Except for the rushed scenes alluded to above, Burton handles the plot (perhaps the most complex in any of his movies) with exceptional grace, dropping in telling visual details along the way that come back in unexpected places later on. I especially liked the underlying theme about science vs. superstition, and note that while many details of this particular case lie beyond the realm of science, it is still science and reason that crack the case open in the end. The bits of ca. 1800 cutting-edge (so to speak) technology were fascinating as well; my favorites were the magic lantern that threw lighted shapes on the walls, and the thaumatrope toy which combined pictures of a bird and a cage. (It's probably not a coincidence that both of these are ancestors to the motion picture.)

Finally, I loved Johnny Depp's performance as Ichabod Crane. Even though the character's situation and background were quite different from Irving's version, Depp, Burton, and scriptwriters Kevin Yagher and Andrew Kevin Walker remain true to the spirit of the original Ichabod Crane. He could almost be a Buster Keaton-type character, an awkward wimp who accomplishes great feats of derring-do by the end of the movie, and for me Depp's portrayal recalls "Sherlock, Jr.", in which Keaton dreams that he is the world's greatest detective. Even though Irving wrote no sequels to "Sleepy Hollow", I'd love to see more of this film version of Ichabod Crane; while the movie looks great and has a terrific script, it's Depp and Crane who put it over the top.
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Excels as a Gothic exercise in atmosphere and dark humor
AlsExGal21 April 2017
Director Tim Burton's elaborate take on Washington Irving's tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman doesn't have much in common with Irving but excels as a Gothic exercise in atmosphere and dark humor.

This rich visual feast demands a viewer's attention with its stunning photography and art direction, with countless memorably framed shots of 18th Century New York, with its foggy woods and small town cobblestone streets. Lurking about, too, of course, is the legendary Headless Horseman who seems to be collecting an increasingly large number of heads of his hapless victims.

This brings about the arrival of Crane, transformed by Burton from Disney's spindly school teacher of animation fame into an analytical would be Sherlock Holmes type detective. Only this detective is decidedly squeamish about blood (not to mention spiders) and, on at least one bloody occasion, will pass out. The role is an ideal showcase for Johnny Depp, whose Crane is both darkly handsome and a bit prissy. Depp is truly endearing in his part, an engagingly idiosyncratic individual who will eventually turn reluctant hero.

None of the rest of the cast, while capable, make much of an impression next to Depp. A few old timers occupy that cast, however, including Christopher Lee, Michael Gough and Martin Landau. However, Christopher Walken also appears, chillingly, in a significant role.

It's a shame, of course, that Burton's skills with narrative story telling are not nearly as effective as his flair for visual dramatics (as unquestionably impressive as the latter are here) and, as far as the story itself is concerned, the film is confused and falls a bit flat. Nor are the horror elements of the story all that horrifying, though this is a film in which the decapitations by the Horseman will keep the heads a rolling. Burton largely treats these moments of bloodshed and "terror" as darkly humorous more than anything else.

More than any of the special effects involving the Headless Horseman, what stays with me are Depp's performance and, particularly, the Gothic elegance of this production. That alone makes Sleepy Hollow well with the investment of a viewer's time.
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Good or awful? that depends...
nonsidirebbe8 February 2002
Pretty good if you expect to see a rather thrilling fairy-tale for kids. Really awful if you expect to see a good thriller for grown-ups. Acting is rather poor, and Johnny Depp is at his worst performance I've ever seen. They could have got anybody for his role!
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not sleepy, not awake either
nhmphuong1 April 2005
This makes a good commercial film.

And the acting of Johny Depp and Christina Ricci were good. The music works well with the scenes and the content of the movie. That's it. to me, Christina seems a little bit younger than Johny, hence the not very perfect couple!

I couldn't think of any good words to say about this movie. Nothing special. Sleepy Hollow is the kind of movie that helps neither sink nor raise the career of the actors.

at some point, i think that the clothes of the character kind of inappropriate, especially the mom of Johny's character.

7 out of 10. couldn't be more
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the only horror is in the editing...
rdm9114 January 2000
surely this film was hacked up by the studio? perhaps not but i feel there were serious flaws in the storytelling that if not attributed to the editing process could only be caused by grievously bad, criminal indeed, writing and directing.

i understand the effect burton wished to achieve with the stylised acting similar to the gothic fairytale atmosphere of edward scissorhands, but here unfortunately it falls flat and achieves no mythical depth of tropes but only the offensive tripe of affectation. ie bad acting and shallow characterisation even for a fairytale.

finally not that scary, indeed only mildly amusing in its attempts. the use of dialogue as a vehicle for plot background was clumsy and unnecessary. the mystery of who is the headless horseman would suffice, no need for the myth about a german mercenary, although christopher walken did cut a dashing figure but not that menacing - seeing the horsemans head makes him seem far friendlier that a decapitated inhuman nine foot tall spirit as in the original legend.

no real rhythm or universal tone was ever established and not a classic in burtons oevure. stilted and clipped as my parting shot...
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Nice Visuals and ... That's About It
jeroennouwens1 January 2021
This movie didn't do anything for me. I was actually disappointed, because I was anticipating a very good couple of hours spent watching this. I noticed that the top reviews on this site were all positive. Besides, this is a Tim Burton film, and his Edward Scissorhands is one of my favorite films; and a few days ago I saw Ed Wood and that's a very good Burton film, too, although not on the level of Edward Scissorhands (IMO). I will say this movie looks good. Better than good actually. I must give credit where credit is due. An Academy Award went to Best Art Direction and Set Direction. To be honest, Academy Awards hold no value to me anymore, as it's mostly politics (and not my kind), but I guess the art direction hasn't yet been politicized.

A missed opportunity was that there wasn't anything done with the Dutch element of the story, except maybe the visuals (I recognized some Dutch architecture). From the start, it became clear that this movie was going to be superficial entertainment, made for the big screen. I didn't care for the story, nor for the characters. This is because they were cardboard or even illogical. Was there supposed to be a love story involved? Didn't work at all.
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Well, Burton succeeded in what he was trying to do.....
magic_marker20 August 2002
which was to make a homage to the old British Hammer films of the 60s. The film could have been following a checklist:

Does it have dark, gothic set design? Check

Does it share a title with a work of classic literature? Check

Does it bear absolutely no resemblence to said classic? Check

Is it instead a needlessly complicated whodunnit with an anticlimatic resolution? Check

As far as costume design, does it think mainly of tight corsets straining to contain amply endowed women? Check

Does it contain overwrought and melodramatic dialogue straight from a penny dreadful novel? Check

Does it conain oodles of blood? Check

And Christopher Lee? Check

With "Sleepy Hollow" Tim Burton forgets the cardinal rule of homage; refer but do not recreate. The film's main fault is that it is not so much a homage to Hammer horror as a carbon copy. Fidelity is not always a virtue, for while the film manages to capture all that was good about Hammer horror, it also manages to capture all that was bad.

I have to say that "Sleepy Hollow" had one advantage over its source, there were moments in this film that were genuinely scary and suspensful, and I can't remember being scared once while watching any Hammer film. However, Hammer's failings ultimately undermine it. Most of the cast deliberately camped up their roles, and so did disservice to themselves (Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Christina Ricci, and Johnny Depp are all excellent actors and it is a bit depressing to see them as they are here) but Christopher Lee, who only appears briefly, reminds the world why he is and always has been the greatest conveyor of primal menace in the history of film; a fact Burton makes all the clearer by pairing him with his lesser modern counterpart, Christopher Walken. I find it interesting that Lee's career shot into the sky after this film was released.

Given its aims, "Sleepy Hollow" could be called a success. But since it was aiming so low I can really only call it a failure.
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The True Story Of The Conception Of Sleepy Hollow
conspracy-222 October 2006
One day, a board of movie studio executives were gathered around a big, big table. One of them burst out: "Guess what! I just signed a deal to make the Sleepy Hollow story into a movie!"

  • "Get out!", said the others, "that cool story with the headless knight?"

  • "The very same", the first one said, "and guess who will be writing the screenplay? Andrew Kevin Walker!"

  • "No way!", the others shouted, "the guy who wrote Se7en and 8MM? That guy is a true master of the dark and the suspenseful! He'll make that story into the true underbelly of sleaze and grit it deserves! WOW!"

  • "Wait a second", said one of the others, even though he was as excited as the rest, "won't the story lose the essential storybook feel if a realist like Walker is writing the screenplay?"

  • "Never fear!", proclaimed the first, "because to direct this movie, I have none other than... Tim Burton! Complete with Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman, as always!"

  • "Fantastic!", screamed one of the others, knocking his chair over backwards in excitement, "That's simply perfect! Burton's off-beat style will complement the story and Walker's gritty take on the story and make this the movie of the year!"

  • "The decade!", screamed another.

  • "The century!", shrieked a third.

  • "Marvellous!", they cried. "Splendid! Wonderful! How did you do it?"

But one of the others, a reedy little man with spectacles, said: "I don't think it will be that good after all."

  • "Not that good?", exclaimed the others, furiously, "weren't you listening? Burton! Walker! Depp!"

  • "Furthermore", the reedy man carried on, "I think the end result will be disappointingly tame. There will be no sparkle, the actors will look like they don't really care about anything, and the whole thing will feel like a made-for-TV movie with a special effects budget."

  • "Ridiculous!", hissed one.

  • "Preposterous!!", seethed another.

But the reedy man was absolutely right.
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A typical Tim Burton movie.
Celestia-224 November 1999
If you enjoy Tim Burton movies, you will certainly enjoy this one. Although not particularly true to the original story, or even the Disney version, the movie does contain all the elements that make Sleepy Hollow a classic scare story. Also throughout the movie are little touches that just scream Tim Burton. Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Beetlejuice all receive a nod in this movie (whether intentional or not I don't know).

Sleepy Hollow does deserve the rating it has been given due to a few instances of gore. It certainly isn't the Disney story we all remember from childhood. Although, there are just as many laughs as there are squirms. A definite must see if you enjoy black comedy with a dash of real horror thrown in.
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Tim Burton's visually amazing gothic tale (but slightly hollow)
SkullScreamerReturns23 July 2021
Someone has said that Tim Burton's movies are more style than substance. I feel like that statement fits this film especially. I've always loved its visual look - the foggy fields and autumn-clad forests...that's perfect...but I always tend to forget what happens in the story, until watching again years later.

The script is based on a quite popular novel/story so it can't be too bad. For some reason I have never read it, but someday... So, I can't exactly say if the film's main flaw is because of the book or the adaptation. Probably both. Fairytale-ish material don't easily create a very deep story unless that is the main aim of the projct.

...But knowing Burton he's not that kind of guy, no, he's about taking an imaginary story and making it look as fantastical as possible. I don't blame him, that's his thing. However, for example "Big Fish" was a film that got both right, the visuals and a story that blows me away every time. This one leaves the story a little bit on the marginal. I always seem to remember this movie as pictures painted on the canvas of my mind. When the movie was quite new, I downloaded Windows wallpapers of the movie's still images and had them in my computer. It's that kind of film.

Hey, I have to comment also the cast. This will be a long paragraph. Well, I was never really a fan of Johnny Depp in this movie. He's a little bit too Johnny Depp... Not as comical as in the Pirates movies but he's a little bit quirky, and I might like a more serious performance better. Well, I'm under the impression that the character in the books might also be a bit eccentric so maybe it's just that. Then there's the lovely Christina Ricci for whom I had a crush back then when I was a teenager. Guess whose picture was on my desktop the most? Then there's of course Christopher Walken as the villain. It's a small role and he doesn't have much space to use his acting skills but he makes a cool looking monster-warrior anyway.

Not done with the cast yet! Before watching the movie again tonight I did not remember that Christopher Lee was in it, the great Michael Gambon (from The Singing Detective), Michael Gough (Alfred from Batman), and Ian McDiarmid, among others. These are smaller roles but it's nice to see so many legendary actors. And the executive producer is no other than Francis Ford Coppola. Did not expect that.

It's a movie that always leaves me yearning for more...something. The story does not make me feel enough something to call it a masterpiece. But still I kind of love it because of the atmosphere and simply beautiful images. Fans of gothic romanticism and Tim Burton's world of dark fairytales check it out. Try to see it from a big screen with good picture quality.
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"Heads will roll." Sleepy Hollow(1999)
robfollower10 February 2021
Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane was a good choice, and he was able to play a character who is odd and quirky, yet not stupid or insane. It's a much more subtle version of some of the Johnny Depp characters we've seen in the past decade. Most of the supporting cast was pretty good too, especially Christopher Walken as the Head-having Horseman and Gorgeous Christina Ricci is his beau. The look and feel of the film was one of the highlights, as Burton was able to make everything look authentic, yet give the feeling of unease. Lots of scenes, if not all of them, were filmed with blue-tinted filters that gave everything a cold and detached look.

Gothic fantasy movies just don't come more lush than Tim Burton's efforts, and in this thinly disguised slasher film, based on the novel by Washington Irving, a legendary headless horseman lops off the noggins of the inhabitants of the small north eastern town of Sleepy Hollow in 1799. Everything you'd expect from a gored-up Tim Burton flick.
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Typical Tim Burton
brittany01234522 March 2020
Very much so done in a Tim Burton style. I think this movie would have been a home run had that not been the case because the audience could have taken it more seriously. Still a decent film overall.
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