Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow started with Kevin Yagher originally directing Andrew Kevin Walker’s script as a low-budget slasher film. He didn’t get along with Paramount, so he was demoted to prosthetic makeup and Tim Burton was brought in to direct.

Ichabod Crane is played by Johnny Depp. Much like how his role in From Hell, he’s attempting to bring modern science into policework while still knowing about the magic that exists in the world. His romantic partner is Christina Ricci as Katrina Van Tasse, who didn’t enjoy how one-dimensional her character was.

Sleepy Hollow has been the scene of numerous decapitations, which gets Crane sent from New York City to investigate. The truth involves a mercenary soldier (Christopher Walken with Ray Park doing the heavy lifting), an evil stepmother (Miranda Richardson), a witch (also Miranda Richardson) and a pact with the devil himself.

This film is filled with stars from horror movies and the films of Burton. Christopher Lee is a burgomaster. Richard Griffiths plays the town’s magistrate. Sir Michael John Gambon plays Katrina’s father. Real life pedo Jeffrey Jones plays the town’s religious leader. Martin Landau shows up in an uncredited role and Lisa Marie plays Ichabod’s mother, who was killed for practicing witchcraft. Michael Gough, who was in Burton’s Batman films, came out of retirement just to be in this movie. Oh yeah — and Casper Van Dien from Starship Troopers.

The movie looks like a combination of a Hammer film and a Mexico horror movie with Mario Bava joining in. There are tons of forced perspective and limited effects shots, as Mars Attacks! was criticized for its dependence on them.

Because the film was shot with such a blue cast, all of the blood was made the brightest of orange to show up on film. And everything — so it could be controlled — was shot on a soundstage.

While nowhere near the majesty of its Hammer and Bava inspirations, this is a great film. I just recently returned to it and was pleasantly surprised by how well its aged.

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