SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) Reviews and overview



‘Heads will roll’

Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American horror film directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay written by Andrew Kevin Walker based on a story by special effects expert Kevin Yagher. It is a film adaptation loosely inspired by the 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving and stars Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, with Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, and Jeffrey Jones in supporting roles.

Veteran actors Christopher Lee, Michael Gough (Horror Hospital; The CorpseKonga; et al) and Martin Landau (Alone in the Dark) also appear.

sleepy hollow johnny depp

At the beginning of the 19th Century, New York pathologist Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to the remote town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate the gruesome deaths of a number of the community’s figureheads.

Despite his attempts to find a rational explanation for the decapitated bodies that continue to turn up with alarming regularity, Crane comes to the conclusion that the killings are the work of an axe-wielding headless horseman…

sleepy hollow walken

Development began in 1993 at Paramount Pictures with Kevin Yagher originally set to direct Andrew Kevin Walker’s script as a low-budget slasher film. Disagreements with Paramount resulted in Yagher being demoted to prosthetic makeup designer, and Burton was hired to direct in June 1998.

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Filming took place from November 1998 to May 1999, and Sleepy Hollow was released to generally favourable reviews from critics and grossed approximately $207 million worldwide. Production designer Rick Heinrichs and set decorator Peter Young won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction.


“This feels like a good film but not a great Tim Burton film. The supernatural thriller plot seems a little too calculated and never one that holds you pinned with unfolding surprises. While the film is very well directed, there is never any scene that stands out in the way that the Day-O rendition in Beetlejuice, the haircut scene in or almost anything in the Batman films did.” Moria


“The film suffers from tepid performances, feebly drawn characters,and a meandering narrative. Regardless of how many eerie, fog-shrouded forest sequences, gruesome decapitations, and gorgeous matte paintings Burton offers us, Sleepy Hollow‘s look cannot obfuscate its numerous, glaring weaknesses.” Reelviews




Cast and characters:

Johnny Depp … Ichabod Crane
Christina Ricci … Katrina Van Tassel
Miranda Richardson … Lady Van Tassel / Crone
Michael Gambon … Baltus Van Tassel
Casper Van Dien … Brom Van Brunt
Jeffrey Jones … Reverend Steenwyck
Richard Griffiths … Magistrate Philipse
Ian McDiarmid … Doctor Lancaster
Michael Gough … Notary Hardenbrook
Christopher Walken … Hessian Horseman
Marc Pickering … Young Masbath
Lisa Marie … Lady Crane
Steven Waddington … Killian
Claire Skinner … Beth Killian
Christopher Lee … Burgomaster
Alun Armstrong … High Constable
Mark Spalding … Jonathan Masbath
Jessica Oyelowo … Sarah
Tony Maudsley … Van Ripper
Peter Guinness … Lord Crane
Nicholas Hewetson … Glenn
Orlando Seale … Theodore
Sean Stephens … Thomas Killian
Gabrielle Lloyd … Doctor Lancaster’s Wife
Robert Sella … Dirk Van Garrett
Michael Feast … Spotty Man
Jamie Foreman … Thuggish Constable
Philip Martin Brown … Constable One
Sam Fior … Young Ichabod
Tessa Allen-Ridge … Young Lady Van Tassel
Cassandra Farndale … Young Crone
Lily Phillips … Girl 2
Bianca Nicholas … Little Girl
Paul Brightwell … Rifleman

Filming locations:

Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, England (Sleepy Hollow village outdoor set)
Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England
H Stage, Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England (Western Woods)
Leavesden Studios, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, England (studio)
Middle Temple, Temple, Holborn, London, England, UK
Oxfordshire, England, UK
Somerset House, Strand, London, England (New York street where Ichabod takes Katrina at the end of the film)
Yonkers, New York (studio)

Filming dates:

27 November 1998 – 10 May 1999


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