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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow
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Review by Chuck Arrington | posted June 1, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Synopsis:

An American horror classic, Sleepy Hollow tells the story of Ichabod Crane. Originally, a schoolteacher but in it's current machination, a NY Police Officer. At the behest of the ever-wonderful Christopher Lee, Ichabod Crane travels two days journey to the town of Sleepy Hollow. It would appear that someone or something is killing the townspeople of Sleepy Hollow by cutting their heads off! Crane, believes the murderer to be composed of flesh & blood however, those who live in the Hollow know the culprit to be far from human. A dark spirit has fallen on the hamlet of sleepy Hollow in the person of the headless horseman. Rising from his grave each night, he seeks out the heads of those chosen to meet a grisly end. Not exactly the tale as it was originally woven, Sleepy Hollow through Tim Burton's eyes is a wonder to behold. The incredible sets coupled with top-notch storytelling; incredible special effects & a simply amazing score make Sleepy Hollow one of the best horror films of recent history!

Audio:

The audio portion of the feature is absolutely gorgeous! First let's get to the technical aspect of the audio. The center is crystalline in its reproduction of the dialogue for the film. The surrounds & sub are in a word…"humming"! There is just enough sub use to create an incredibly overwhelming sense of dread. Additionally, the surrounds are put to such good use that the dank & gloomy atmosphere that is Sleepy Hollow begins to permeate the fibers of your environment & gives a wonderful "3D" aural experience. Now onto the good stuff! I cannot say enough about Danny Elfman's score! Gothic & big come to mind when trying to define the beauty of the film's aural character. Elfman has an awesome musical genius about him that Sleepy Hollow really well defines. The director's commentary by Tim Burton is way, way cool. Not only does he explain the set up of the scenes; he gives background information on his influences & the absolute joy it was to work with the one & only Christopher Lee! For Paramount's first decently "extra'd" disc, Sleepy Hollows' audio features are definitely top drawer!

Video:

Wow! I saw this film when it opened & was put off by its seemingly overwhelming muddy visual atmosphere. I expected it to be a dank & dark film but that should have been content only, not the entire visual portion of the film. Theatrically, I was disappointed but boy was I happy to see the new & improved anamorphically enhanced BRIGHT transfer that Paramount provided for this disc! Now don't get me wrong, the film still bears muted colors & darker segments but, nothing like the pea soup experience I had in the theater! On DVD, it's like watching a whole new film! The colors are not necessarily vibrant throughout the feature but, in certain parts, namely, the party at Boltus Van Tassel's in the beginning of the film, the interior of Van Garret's coach & Ichabod's initial meeting with the town leaders in the back room of Van Tassel's country manse, the colors are absolutely beautiful. Additionally, the overall look of the film is staggering. The team assigned to create the hamlet of Sleepy Hollow outdid themselves. From the haunted West Woods to the Tree of the dead, Sleepy Hollow is a sumptuous visual feast.

Extras:

As I've already stated, this is Paramount's first decently produced disc with extras! In addition to the great audio commentary & the two trailers for the film-one theatrical & one teaser, there is a 30 minute "Behind the Legend" featurette. This segment takes you behind the scenes with cast & crew interviews & gives you an insightful view into the production of some of the film's special effects & stunts. Additionally, it paints a picture of the ensemble cast establishing the kind of atmosphere created when a group of actors that is this talented gets together with a director like Tim Burton!

Overall:

Sleepy Hollow is one of the greatest American horror stories ever written. Till now, it had not received the kind of treatment needed to make it a classic piece of cinema as well. Tim Burton's vision is richly terrifying & deliciously evil. In homage to the Hammer films of old, Tim Burton brings to life one of horror's most frightening visages, the Headless Horseman. Generally given to mixed reviews, Sleepy Hollow is just one of those tremendously atmospheric films that you either loved or you hated. I fell in love with Sleepy Hollow on my initial viewing & greatly enjoyed all that Burton did with the storyline. I have to say that I am a great fan of Tim Burton's work & this film further cemented that opinion. If you are looking for a good rich scare, I highly recommend this feature to you. On every level, this film makes an awesome presentation!

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