Well, better late than never, so we'll finally have a new strip up on this newly revamped version of the website in just a few days. We'll call it the grand re-opening of MoonlightMotelComic.com. In the meantime, on with the recommendations to make your Halloween season darker, and since the days are rushing by us, I better start to get really serious about this with one of my all-time favorite stores, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", in movie form, of course!
Now, this story has surely been covered several times on the big and small screens. We're only going to talk about 4 versions here, the four I try to watch every year (though I watch more if I can; I have a really primitive computer animated version on VHS somewhere as well that isn't too shabby for a change of pace). Let's start with one of the most watched versions ever, I'd wager, the Tim Burton one known simply as "Sleepy Hollow".
Let me stop for a minute and remind myself that I'm not here to write full-on reviews, as this is just the recommendations article. So, I'll try to keep this short. Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow". It's gorgeous. Christina Ricci is more beautiful in this than I've ever seen her, and I was quite obsessed with her for a while, so that means a lot. But, seriously, the movie itself is a total work of art, as most Tim Burton films are, but far moreso than many. The story is great, but it is NOT the traditional headless horseman story of Washington Irving's fame. This is more of a detective story, very Sherlock Holmes-ish, and in fact, the ending could have led to some really fun sequels (oh well, missed opportunities). Yes, in this one, Ichabod Crane is not a school teacher, but a detective come to investigate the deaths of people killed by the headless horseman. So, bottomline, not an accurate telling of the classic tale, but still a GREAT Halloween movie loosely based on Irving's tale. It's easily my favorite Burton film, and there is nothing to complain about in this except the changes from the book, IF that's an issue for you. I highly recommend it. HIGHLY. Wouldn't be Halloween without a viewing of this. Great one for the big night itself, in fact! Christopher Walken makes a surprisingly great headless horseman, and yes, he's a bit scary in this at times (LOVE that scene where he ends a small family; it's really intense). This one, by the way, was a particular favorite movie of my late father, who passed away last October.
Now, Burton's fun version is all well and good, but sometimes you really wanna see the traditional version, ya know? Ichabod as a gangly schoolteacher rather than a Hollywood heartthrob. This is THE ONE to watch for that, AFTER the animated version I'll be discussing later, anyway. This is Hallmark's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and apart from some of the acting being a bit stagey (some might call it bad, I prefer to call it stagey; I'm not going to insult the lovely Rachelle Lefevre, after all). This film is cast wonderfully, with Twilight's redheaded hottie, Rachelle Lefevre (whom I remember best from Big Wolf on Campus) as Katrina, and Brent Carver as Ichabod. It is a perfect day or night movie for the Halloween season; a loyal retelling that is thoroughly enjoyable and charming to watch. Highly recommend it. In fact, I love this one almost as much as the Burton one.
Okay, now we come to my favorite one, the Disney animated version from 1949. This is a perfect Halloween treat! Bing Crosby sings and narrates the whole thing, Katrina Van Tassel is a goddess, and everything about this is Disney at its best! I can't recommend it enough! Best watched on Halloween night itself! You CAN find the Ichabod section by itself, or you can buy it in the original feature film version seen here, where it is preceded by the story of Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows. That's a great one too, but better to skip past it if you are watching this on Halloween. Don't think you can celebrate Halloween properly without this one, either!
Finally, a brief mention of a TV version from 1980 starring Jeff Goldblum and only available on VHS. I can't say this is a great version, it's not. It's one of those goofy, 1980 TV movies with characters that don't bother to speak in a manner fitting the period and a story that doesn't worry too much about being accurate to the source material. Still, it's closer than Burton's version, ha. This is one of those movies that is interesting and funny to watch if you like that sort of thing (Dick Butkus as Brom Bones?). I do enjoy cheesy nostalgia myself, to some degree. I always remembered catching a rerun of this on TV as a kid, and I always wanted to see it again (finally did via the internet).
So, there you have it, four versions of Sleepy Hollow to go check out before Halloween, 3 of them being, in my book, must-haves for the serious Halloween enthusiast. Seek them out and enjoy!