Sometimes there are steps I take.... places I plant my
ass... airspace I fill that just seems to border on the
Last Monday, I was sitting on a bench outside my
hotel awaiting Moriarty, Segue Zagnut and John
Robie to pick me up and fly to a FATBURGER to
pick up the gorgeous Lynn Bracken to then charge
our way to the Paramount Lot to take in Tim Burton’s
latest film.... SLEEPY HOLLOW.
Now to set the atmosphere just so... I was sitting on
this bench mostly in darkness... The lights from the
front of the hotel barely reached me, illuminating only
half of one leg. The rest of me was shrouded in
As I sat there, I began to see this shape come from the
parking area. As I usually do, I followed it’s
movements... it was headed my way. I’m bored.
Moriarty is of course... LATE as usual. Suddenly this
unidentified walking shape (or UWS for short) is
right upon me. He’s a well built man, and as his face
reaches the light, I see O.J. Simpson staring back into
There was a brief exchange... even now I’m unsure of
what was said... but all the same it happened. He
continued on into the lobby of the hotel, walked
around a bit, then went on up to his room.... same
floor as me (he took the stairs which led only to my
I didn’t know how to feel about this, it’s so strange. I
mean hell... As a boy I had the OJ electronic
FOOTBALL Game and drank OJ every morning.
I’ve seen him in movies my entire life... and then of
course there was that trial thing. Strange....
Right around that time, Moriarty and crew arrive in a
Bronco-style vehicle, albeit... not white. I hop in and
we begin our trek...
Upon arriving at the Paramount lot we noticed that
there were almost ZERO cars there. I mean...
seriously... this place was a ghost studio. At this time
I was riding with Lynn, and we get out to head
towards the theater.
Everyone in the group is charged. We are... by
nature... Tim Burton fans. We love his work. My
feelings about Tim’s work border on a near zealot
Here in my bedroom, directly in front of me I can see
Jack and Sally from NIGHTMARE BEFORE
CHRISTMAS, a MARS ATTACKS alien, a big ol
BEETLEJUICE doll, an ED WOOD postcard and the
script for BATMAN amongst all the other items...
And for right now, save for the entire run of
YELLOW SUBMARINE toys that litter that
selection... Tim dominates.
Behind all of that though lies my poster for Mario
Bava’s BLACK SABBATH... a three sheet with
Karloff’s disembodied head held by a greenish
undead fist. This... of course.... Rocks.
The script for SLEEPY HOLLOW was very much a
balls to the wall scary flick, something I wasn’t sure
100% was up Tim’s alley. For me... from the
beginning of Tim... he’s been that horror fan that
can’t help but giggle while he’s scaring you. And... I
love that. To me... he’s a bit of a cross of Vincent
Price, William Castle and Richard Widmark... He
delights at scarring you. Putting a bit of the ol fright
Yes... I love that. I remember... first it was just
scaring my sister... It was so much fun.... Show her
TEMPLE OF DOOM, then put my hand over her
heart and begin the chant... she’d start freaking out....
Now I delight when I get asked by teenagers the
world over if the Blair Witch is real.... I write them
back.... “Of Course She Is Silly Boy/Girl”
I can’t help it. To me... For me... It tis far far better
to fear ghouls and goblins than drug dealers and
congressmen. My parents warped me as a child to
fear the undead, rather than their fist. ‘Harry! Do as
you’re told or we’ll take you to the cemetery!’
I was a very good boy.
So it is that I find myself very much in the same
world of Tim Burton. My house is decorated as both
Christmas and Halloween 365 days a year. I pour
over horror films of long ago and delight as if they
were freshly squeezed that morning for my breakfast
In all the advance foraging for information upon
SLEEPY HOLLOW, I read that Tim Burton was
attempting a Hammer Film. That classic world of
film where good was Peter Cushing and evil was
Christopher Lee. Always the pair were at each
others’ throats. The skies were always cloudy with a
bluish tint... The castle was always upon a hill as a
painted (although gorgeously so) backdrop with a
forced ominous perspective. It’s deeper than deep
red blood. The dynamic flurry of strings and lower
brass as the furious battle between good and evil
played out as composed by James Bernard. Yes....
The Hammer films.
They were bloodier, bolder and had more breasts than
in any horror films we had seen previously. And it
wasn’t so much nude breast as it was that
valley/canyon of cleavage. The women of Hammer
were young and... different looking. Voluptuous, yet
childlike. There was always an innocent virginal
seduction to them. Asking to be corrupted.
So yes... that’s where my mind was as we 5....
Moriarty, Segue Zagnut, John Robie, Lynn Bracken
and I took to our seats.
We decided to not sit up on top of one another... not
all on the same row. Instead we spread out. I ran up
to get a close seat to the screen. I wanted in this
world. And there... we sat... awaiting whatever was
I was a bit nervous. This was a screening arranged by
Scott Rudin... he had offered to fly me out to see it,
but I was already going to be in town... So all he
needed to do was set up the screening. I had talked
with Rudin, who was on the set of SHAFT, and he
seemed to feel that I should see this movie.
Personally I could not agree more. I should see this
movie. All Tim Burton fans should see this movie
and any other that Tim creates.
But as our projectionist was getting set to screen the
film.... I found that doubts were beginning to crowd
my mind. Those reviews coming in talking about
doubts.... disappointments.... I really didn’t want an
‘OK’ Tim Burton film... I wanted genius. I wanted a
great Tim Burton film.
That’s what I got.
“Chistopher Lee is wasted in this film”
This was the first statement to pop into mine that had
been in a review that appeared here on AICN that was
revealed to be false to me. You see.... Christopher
Lee has... a cameo. A brief... oh so brief... scene.
He is the man that sends young Ichabod Crane to the
town of Sleepy Hollow. There... in that brief minute
or two minute long scene you see... for that moment
or two... the power of Christopher Lee. When that
finger of his points at poor Johnny Depp... you get the
sense that... Well... that you would gulp as well.
Folks... Let’s really get to it here. SLEEPY
HOLLOW is exactly that. This movie, while
departing from the original Washington Irving
material shows exactly why sometimes diversions are
wholly necessary in creating a cinematic tale. BUT
you must stay true to the soul of the material. And
Burton and Walker have done that in spades.
The trailers lead you to believe that this is a horror
action film. To a degree... that is dead on true... but
there is more here. You see... Ichabod is a coward,
just as his school teaching literary roots had been.
He’s squeamish. He cowers and faints and ya know...
It’s funny when it happens. BUT.... BUT... this is
being honest and true to the soul of Washington
THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW was both
scary and funny. In literary form as well as the
popular Disney animated version. This film stays
true to that, but... my god this is a delight.
It’s not that much has changed since the script draft I
read... the dialogue is still there... but Johnny Depp
has peppered and textured his character with
moments and pentameters that I did not even begin to
read into the character. In the written form, Ichabod
was a bit of an action hero... here... well, he’s hanging
on for dear life. He’s a book nerd... a traumatized
boy hoping and praying to survive.
He’s determined to succeed. However... he’s also
quite the scaredy cat. I love this dimension to his
character and in the context of the film and the mood
that Burton sets... it is... perfect.
In the press materials on SLEEPY HOLLOW, you’d
see pics of Burton painting blood on Lisa Marie... the
tree... all over the place... I love this. The use of
blood in this movie is wonderful. It is the brightest
element of the film. The most rich color seen.
Like in the old Technicolor school, you create a
universe of low key colors then, when you really want
to make an impact.... you hit them with a bright red.
Here.... it’s the wax, the cardinal, the blood. Each
rich and beautiful.
This is also a character actors film. You’ll see a good
dozen faces that you know, but that so many do not.
This felt like an old Hammer film... simply because
faces and quality of actors were cast.... not just
Now... for the film. It moves sooo fast. There is not
much pussy-footing around here. The movie is not
only an action horror film, but like all good college
students, it minors in mystery and comedy as well as
It never plays any of it particularly realistic.... but
rather hallucinatory. The cinematography of
Emmanuel Lubezki is supreme. Whether we are in
reality or the dreams of Ichabod’s childhood. We are
swept up in this.... the most lush of all of Burton’s
Every single shot of this film is beautiful. The angles,
what is moving within the shots... this is Burton’s
most assured film. Every character has a purpose.
Every death a reason. And for the first time in his
The action ROCKS. Every single time that damned
Headless Horseman even begins to appear on
screen... the pulse of this film races... not only
because of the brilliant stunt work, horseback riding
and sword use... not only because of the fantastic
photography and framing of the series of shots... but
also the racing score of Danny Elfman. In classic
Hammer style, Elfman overscores the hell out these
scenes.... creating a faster heartbeat that peels off the
screen and went smack dab into my own chest. It was
There is a carriage sequence that is... just hands
down.... stunning as all hell. Remember the pursuit
of the Ark of the Covenant in RAIDERS OF THE
LOST ARK? Well... if you watch that sequence with
the trucks.... and you count during the sequence on
every 2 beat, the shot changes... it’s a relentless pace.
But during this sequence, Burton and his editor Chris
Lebenzon are playing with the beats... making them
erratic. I loved this.
This is a bedtime story... a Halloween tale to watch
every Halloween. I love ED WOOD, but in the realm
of Burton’s myths.... BEETLEJUICE, EDWARD
SCISSORHANDS, BATMAN, BATMAN
RETURNS, MARS ATTACKS! Well... SLEEPY
HOLLOW is my favorite... at least upon first
viewing. I’ll be seeing it again this Monday and then
paying to see it again that next Friday.
Upon leaving the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles I
had my bag of toys and press materials and the 5 of us
went to SWINGERS on Beverly Blvd. to grab a late
supper and discuss what it was we just saw.
There was only one bag of toys and press materials.
So... at the restaurant we opened the toys (McFarlane
Toys) and began playing with them. Moriarty says,
“That’s it.... fuck it... I’m bombing this movie cause I
didn’t get a buncha toys!”
I respond with, “Well the only reason I’m giving the
movie a great review is because I got these toys!”
To which everyone screams.... “SELLOUT!!!”
You see folks... that’s the way we joke. Here... let’s
think about this... If the only reason I’m writing this
positive review is because of a bag of toys... Well...
If you saw CONGO... and they gave you a bag of
toys... Would it change your opinion of the film? I
didn’t think so.
In fact, you’d probably drive straight to a Goodwill or
hand the bag to the nearest kid you’d find. I love
these toys, because the movie kicks ass. These toys
are now on display in my house because... the movie
is just awesome.
All 5 of us just talked non-stop about the utter
coolness that this movie has. Burton did succeed in
his goal of creating his Hammer film.... I can not wait
to see what he does next.