Every day is Halloween in the weird and wonderful parallel universe of Tim Burton. But then what else would you expect from the mad genius who gave the world Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Frankenweenie and other works of Gothic pop art!
In SLEEPY HOLLOW a scarecrow, a headless corpse and a blood-spattered jack o’ lantern effectively set the mood for yet another excursion into Mr. Burton’s special vision of the macabre.
Longtime Burton collaborator Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd) plays Ichabod Crane, a timid, officious NYC constable sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow in the fall of 1799 to investigate a series of bizarre murders. The victims have been decapitated. The heads are missing. Crane is naturally skeptical over claims that a headless horseman is responsible but he changes his mind after a near fatal encounter with the malevolent spectre.
The casting includes Christina Ricci as Ichabod’s scrumptious love interest, Katrina Van Tassel, the always intriguing Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter films) as her duplicitous stepmother; Christopher Walken (glimpsed briefly as the Headless Horseman in better days) and the marvelously disheveled Michael Gambon (Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter films) as Baltus Van Tassel.
Working with screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) and a top flight technical crew, Mr. Burton brings Washington Irving’s classic tale to deliciously eerie life. The film deservedly won an Oscar for Best Art Direction and Set Decoration and was nominated for cinematography and costume design.
In the DVD commentary track. Mr. Burton reveals that even though the film is set in New York, it was actually shot in England and, ever the movie geek, he says he often felt as if he was making a Hammer film. The reference, of course, is to England’s Hammer Studios, responsible for a series of elegantly scary B-movies such as Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula. In fact, Hammer horror icon Christopher Lee has appeared in several of Mr. Burton’s films. (He plays the burgomaster, or magistrate, in Sleepy Hollow.)