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"SLEEPY HOLLOW"
(1999) (Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Extreme Extreme *Extreme Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor Mild Extreme None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate None Moderate Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Horror/Suspense: A late 18th century constable travels to Sleepy Hollow to investigate several murders attributed to a headless horseman with a penchant for beheading his victims.
PLOT:
Ichabod Crane (JOHNNY DEPP) is a late 18th century constable whose forensic science investigations into crimes are not only ahead of their time, but also aren't well-received by the more cut and dried judicial system with which he must work.

As such, a local magistrate (CHRISTOPHER LEE) sends Crane to investigate the report of several murders in upstate New York, where the victims have been beheaded. Arriving in the sleepy town of Sleepy Hollow, Crane meets its wealthiest citizen, Baltus Van Tassel (MICHAEL GAMBON), his second wife, Lady Van Tassel (MIRANDA RICHARDSON), and their daughter, Katrina (CHRISTINA RICCI), a young beauty who's immediately taken with him, arousing the suspicions of her suitor, Brom (CASPER VAN DIEN).

Nevertheless, Crane has more important issues to attend to and thus meets with many of the local town leaders including Reverend Steenwyck (JEFFREY JONES), Doctor Lancaster (IAN McDIARMID) and Notary Hardenbrook (MICHAEL GOUGH). They inform him that the grisly deaths are at the hands of the ghost of a Hessian horseman (CHRISTOPHER WALKER) who had a thing for beheading others before meeting a similar demise many years earlier.

Being a man of science, Crane doesn't believe any of this, but after seeing the work of the headless horseman firsthand, he goes into immediate shock, dredging up memories of his mother (LISA MARIE) and her death at the hands of his preacher father. Upon recovering and being accompanied by a recently orphaned boy, Masbath (MARC PICKERING), Crane sets out to figure out exactly what's going on.

Discovering that the horseman seems to have an agenda and doesn't kill at random or even when mildly provoked, Crane tries to figure out who or what controls him while ever more people meet their deaths at the end of a sharp and burning hot sword.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of horror films, someone in the cast (particularly Depp or Ricci) and/or of the classic Washington Irving tale, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For graphic horror violence and gore, and for a scene of sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JOHNNY DEPP plays a late 18th century scientist who tries to solve the mystery of the headless horseman.
  • CHRISTINA RICCI plays the town's young beauty whose delving in witchcraft and/or use of spells makes her a suspect.
  • MIRANDA RICHARDSON plays Katrina's stepmother whose motivations are less than upstanding and who has an affair with another man.
  • JEFFREY JONES plays the town reverend who has an affair with one of the married women.
  • MARC PICKERING plays a young boy who assists Crane in his search after being orphaned by the work of the horseman.
  • CHRISTOPHER WALKEN plays the horseman, a former mercenary with a penchant for decapitation that continues even when he's a ghost.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this R-rated horror film. Being a tale of a headless horseman who beheads his victims, the film is filled with scenes of him doing just that, often with quite graphic detail (plenty of severed heads and lots of blood), and other lethal and non-lethal violence also occurs.

    Such scenes and others regarding the ghost-like horseman, may be unsettling or downright scary to some viewers, especially younger kids if they're allowed to see it (all dependent, of course, on their age, maturity level and tolerance for such material).

    Cleavage is more than abundant with many buxom women showing up in low-cut dresses, while a brief sexual encounter is seen (featuring an aerial view of a man on top of a woman with some movement). For those concerned with the occult, several characters dabble in or heavily use spells and the like.

    Since kids may want to see this film and due to the violence & gore and potential for being scary (at least to younger kids), we suggest that you take a closer look at the detailed content listings should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home.

    For those concerned with the repetitive flashing of bright lights, some of that occurs in this film (but isn't of the rapid-fire kind usually associated with strobes).


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People drink at a party.
  • Baltus drinks from a flask.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a headless driver and then see a man's head being sliced off in one blow with blood squirting out.
  • A bloated and dead body is pulled from a body of water.
  • We see a flashback to a colonial battle scene where the horseman beheads several people (with bloody results) and hits others. His horse is then shot and falls to the ground and soldiers then shoot at him as he flees. Once they catch him, he beheads several of them, runs another through with his sword and severs another soldier's arm. They finally control him and then run a sword through him. We then see them ready to behead him and then see them throw his headless body into a grave followed by his severed head.
  • We see a man running through the woods until he's beheaded by the horseman (and we then see a close- up of the severed, but not bloody head on the ground).
  • Crane and the others then go out to investigate that attack and we see the headless body from several views, including one down into the wound that shows the sliced-off spine. Another closer view shows the wound in more gory detail (and an insect then crawls out from near it).
  • We see several dead and headless bodies in coffins that Crane has exhumed to study (and see the open neck wounds). In a woman's body, Crane sees the now-dried hole from a sword being run through her.
  • As Crane examines a wound on a dead body, blood squirts out onto his face. When he later walks out, his apron, face and hands are bloody.
  • We see that Crane has many strange, but rather small holes in the palms of his hands.
  • Another person is beheaded and the head then rolls right down to Crane. The horseman then rides up, pierces the head from the top with his sword to pick it up, and then rides away.
  • A woman cuts off a dead bat's head and then squeezes the body to get the blood out of it. This woman then shows her face that's deteriorated looking and has holes where her eyes should be.
  • Crane, Katrina and Masbath arrive at "The Tree of the Dead," a big, old dead-looking tree. Noting that there appears to be blood on it, Crane takes a hatchet to it, causing blood to squirt out onto him. As he continues to hack away, more blood squirts and flows out from it. Once he cuts open a hole, he suddenly sees bloody, severed heads inside that roll/shift around a bit.
  • The horseman lops off several more people's heads (we see him carrying one and another rolling across the floor).
  • Brom's leg is a little bit bloody after having a knife stuck into it.
  • The horseman cuts a man in half with bloody results.
  • Doing some spell work, Katrina cuts off a dead bird's foot.
  • Crane has a flashback where he hears a voice calling his name from inside something resembling an upright sarcophagus. When he opens it, his mother's body falls from it (along with a lot of blood). This causes Crane to back up and have his hands land on a chair's armrests covered in sharp spikes (resulting in many bloody puncture wounds on his hands).
  • While having sex with someone, Lady Van Tassel takes a knife and slices her own hand with it (in something of an S&M moment) and then smears blood on him. Later, we see the cut/wound on her hand.
  • A man hits another man with a cross (drawing blood). The horseman then throws a stake that breaks through a window and impales this man (with bloody results). With it tied to his rope, the horseman then pulls that man from the church and drags him across the ground until he runs into a fence. The horseman then comes up and beheads the man.
  • We see a head fall into a basket and a headless body fall to the ground as someone other than the horseman beheads someone else (and we see blood on their face). The killer then cuts the dead body causing some blood to come out.
  • We see a person kill another person (with a bloody ax) and see the severed head.
  • The horseman finally gets his skull back on his body but then goes through a series of convulsions with the skull becoming fleshy before deteriorating.
  • Back in human form, the horseman kisses a woman but then turns out to be biting her and blood pours out between their lips and their mouths are bloody.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously the horseman and what turns out to be the person controlling him have both for murdering many people.
  • Someone poses as the headless horseman as a joke to scare Crane.
  • Some viewers may not like scenes where Katrina and others use, promote or are involved with occult spells and the like.
  • We learn that some town leaders had both for not being on the up and up about an important will and related family/financial matters.
  • A woman has an affair with the town Reverend.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed here, as well as under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling, suspenseful or downright scary to some viewers, especially young kids (all dependent, of course, on their age, maturity level and tolerance for such material).
  • Likewise, the appearance of the horseman with and without his head (the "with" part includes views of him and his animal-like sharpened teeth) may be scary or unsettling to some viewers.
  • The view of a scarecrow with a jack-o-lantern head may be scary to some kids.
  • As music plays and occurring on a darkened night, a man in a horse-drawn carriage hears the sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath and then being used on his driver. We then see that the driver's head is gone and the man runs into an adjacent cornfield. He then looks around as he hears something behind him as well as the sword being drawn again. We then briefly see his head being cut off and blood splatters onto a jack-o-lantern.
  • We see a flashback to a colonial battle scene where the horseman beheads several people (with bloody results) and hits others. His horse is then shot and falls to the ground and soldiers then shoot at him as he flees. Once they catch him, he beheads several of them, runs another through with his sword and severs another soldier's arm. They finally control him and then run a sword through him. We then see them ready to behead him and then see them throw his headless body into a grave followed by his severed head.
  • As a man in the equivalent of a hunter's blind/lookout post awaits the horseman, the torches in front of him suddenly go out. We then hear a gunshot and then see the man running through the woods until he's beheaded by the horseman (and we then see a close-up of the severed head).
  • While seated on his horse on a covered bridge at night, Crane hears the sound of an approaching horse, but doesn't see anything. Suddenly he sees the headless horseman carrying a lit jack-o-lantern that comes at him. He then quickly rides away with the horsemen in pursuit who then throws the jack-o-lantern that hits Crane in the head and knocks him from his horse. In the end, however, we learn that it was just a young prankster posing as the horseman.
  • We see the headless horseman racing through the woods at night as he approaches and then beheads another man. The head then rolls right down to Crane. The horseman then rides up, pierces the head from the top with his sword to pick it up, and then rides away.
  • Crane and Masbath enter an odd cave-like room where they see an old woman sitting with her back to them. After she does some fortune telling (including cutting off a bat's head), she suddenly goes quiet and still. Crane then leads in toward her covered face and she suddenly jumps at him, her face a monstrous vision with bulging eyes, and knocks him to the ground, a pair of shackles the only thing keeping her from really tearing into him. After the bulging eye bit, we see that her deteriorated face has holes where her eyes should be.
  • Crane, Katrina and Masbath arrive at "The Tree of the Dead," a big, old dead-looking tree. Noting that there appears to be blood on it, Crane takes a hatchet to it, causing blood to squirt out onto him. As he continues to hack away, more blood squirts and flows out from it. Once he cuts open a hole, he suddenly sees bloody, severed heads inside that roll/shift around a bit. Then the headless horseman suddenly springs from the tree and rides off.
  • The horseman breaks into a home and comes after a man inside. The man throws a chair at him and then fights him with an ax until the horseman lops off his head. The horseman then approaches the man's wife (while carrying the man's severed head). We then hear the sound of him striking her and then see her head roll across the floor (and her son, hidden under the flooring, sees her dead gaze looking down at him through the cracks in the flooring). The horseman then hears the boy underneath the floor and we then see him breaking through the flooring to get to the boy. He then grabs him and pulls him out and it's suggested that he kills him as well.
  • Using his rifle, Brom shoots the horseman from his horse. After a moment, the horseman gets up and then comes at Brom as he frantically tries to reload his rifle. The two then fight sword vs. rifle, with the horseman throwing a knife (that Brom threw into his back) into Brom's leg (with some resulting blood). Crane and scythes are then added to the fight with Crane finally getting the horseman in the back. Unfazed, the horseman stabs Crane (wounding him) and then battles with Brom, eventually cutting his body in half (with blood squirting out).
  • Crane has a flashback where he hears a voice calling his name from inside something resembling an upright sarcophagus. When he opens it, his mother's body falls from it (along with a lot of blood). This causes Crane to back up and have his hands land on a chair's armrests covered in sharp spikes (resulting in many bloody puncture wounds on his hands).
  • We see the horseman quickly coming up behind Lady Van Tassel who seems unaware of his presence.
  • As everyone huddles in the church that the horseman seemingly can't enter, soldiers fire shots at him with their rifles (after breaking the windows to do so). Inside the church, a man hits another man with a cross (drawing blood), causing another man to shoot him and then wave his pistol to ward off the others who now come after him. The horseman then throws a stake that breaks through a window and impales this man (with bloody results). With it tied to his rope, the horseman then pulls that man from the church and drags him across the ground until he runs into a fence. The horseman then comes up and beheads the man. We then see the two dead men in the church with some blood on the floor around their bodies.
  • We see another headless body.
  • The person controlling the horseman then sends him out after his next victim.
  • The headless horseman approaches a windmill where Crane, Katrina and Masbath head toward the roof. As Crane ascends a ladder, the horseman tries to strike him, hitting the ladder's rungs. Crane then drops something that ignites the windmill's floor, and they escape via the arms of the windmill just before the entire building explodes.
  • The horseman then chases the three (who are in a carriage) on horseback. Crane shoots the horseman but then gets clotheslined by a tree branch and falls off with the horseman hanging on to the back of the carriage. Crane then jumps onto the horseman's back as they're dragged behind it. Once on the carriage, the horseman nearly hits Crane with his sword and the two then fight until the carriage crashes and lands on top of the horseman.
  • A person shoots Crane and he then struggles with that person to gain control of a magic skull. Masbath eventually hits that other person over the head just as the horseman nearly gets Katrina.
  • Back in human form, the horseman kisses a woman but then turns out to be biting her and blood pours out between their lips and their mouths are bloody.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Sword: Used by the headless horseman to kill his victims and fight others who try to stop him.
  • Rifles/Pistols/Ax/Knife/Scythes: Used by others in attempts to stop and/or kill the horseman.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • The witchcraft/spell material that's briefly seen may cause kids already inclined to such activity to participate in it.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • After sitting still and Crane leans in toward her, a hooded woman suddenly leaps out at him.
  • Cutting open a hole in a tree that bleeds blood, Crane and the others are suddenly surprised by the sight of many bloody, severed heads inside it.
  • A person suddenly comes out of a closet.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful, scary and ominous music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 damn and 1 use each of "Oh my God" and "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Crane sees some people passionately making out in the shadows of a porch.
  • Katrina and essentially every other woman (including her mother, Crane's mother and others) in the film show varying amounts of cleavage (often a lot in their low-cut dresses).
  • Crane comes across someone on top of Lady Van Tassel having sex with her in the woods at night. We briefly see (from above and from a bit of a distance) some movement (but no explicit nudity) and then see his head move down her body (but not quite to her crotch). She then takes a knife and slices her own hand with it (in something of an S&M moment) and then smears blood on him.
  • Lady Van Tassel then briefly mentions her husband's "fornications" with a servant girl.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Masbath is orphaned after his father's murder (he mentions that his mother is already dead) and we briefly see the funeral scene.
  • Katrina mentions that her mother died two years earlier.
  • Crane has a flashback where he hears a voice calling his name from inside something resembling an upright sarcophagus. When he opens it, his mother's body falls from it (along with a lot of blood), all of which implies that his father murdered his mother when Crane was 7-years-old.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The legend of the headless horseman.
  • The witchcraft/spells used by various characters in the film.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see that the horseman had already beheaded a carriage driver and then see another man's head pop off his neck as he's beheaded with a sword.
  • A man who's been arrested for burglary is thrown down into a deep hole/cage in the floor.
  • We see a flashback to a colonial battle scene where the horseman beheads several people (with bloody results) and hits others. His horse is then shot and falls to the ground and soldiers then shoot at him as he flees. Once they catch him, he beheads several of them, runs another through with his sword and severs another soldier's arm. They finally control him and then run a sword through him. We then see them ready to behead him and then see them throw his headless body into a grave followed by his severed head.
  • As a man in the equivalent of a hunter's blind/lookout post awaits the horseman, the torches in front of him suddenly go out. We then hear a gunshot and then see the man running through the woods until he's beheaded by the horseman.
  • The headless horseman throws a jack-o-lantern that hits Crane in the head and knocks him from his horse.
  • We see the headless horseman racing through the woods at night as he approaches and then beheads another man.
  • In a flashback, Crane sees a man with his mother pushing her to the ground.
  • A woman cuts off a dead bat's head.
  • A fortune teller suddenly leaps out at Crane and knocks him to the floor, jumping on top of him, her shackles being the only thing preventing her from really tearing into her.
  • The horseman breaks into a home and comes after a man inside. The man throws a chair at him and then fights him with an ax until the horseman lops off his head. The horseman then approaches the man's wife (while carrying the man's severed head). We then hear the sound of him striking her and then see her head roll across the floor (and her son, hidden under the flooring, sees her dead gaze looking down at him through the cracks in the flooring). The horseman then hears the boy underneath the floor and we then see him breaking through the flooring to get to the boy. He then grabs him and pulls him out and it's suggested that he kills him as well.
  • Using his rifle, Brom shoots the horseman from his horse. After a moment, the horseman gets up and then comes at Brom as he frantically tries to reload his rifle. The two then fight sword vs. rifle, with the horseman throwing a knife (that Brom threw into his back) into Brom's leg (with some resulting blood). Crane and scythes are then added to the fight with Crane finally getting the horseman in the back. Unfazed, the horseman stabs Crane (wounding him) and then battles with Brom, eventually cutting his body in half (with blood squirting out).
  • Crane has a flashback where he hears a voice calling his name from inside something resembling an upright sarcophagus. When he opens it, his mother's body falls from it (along with a lot of blood). This causes Crane to back up and have his hands land on a chair's armrests covered in sharp spikes (resulting in many bloody puncture wounds on his hands). All of that implies that his father murdered his mother.
  • As everyone huddles in the church that the horseman seemingly can't enter, soldiers fire shots at him with their rifles (after breaking the windows to do so). Inside the church, a man hits another man with a large cross (drawing blood), causing another man to shoot him and then wave his pistol to ward off the others who now come after him. The horseman then throws a stake that breaks through a window and impales this man (with bloody results). With it tied to his rope, the horseman then pulls that man from the church and drags him across the ground until he runs into a fence. The horseman then comes up and beheads the man.
  • We see a head fall into a basket and a headless body fall to the ground as someone other than the horseman beheads someone else.
  • We see a person kill another person (with a bloody ax) and see the severed head.
  • The headless horseman approaches a windmill where Crane, Katrina and Masbath head toward the roof. As Crane ascends a ladder, the horseman tries to strike him, hitting the ladder's rungs. Crane then drops something that ignites the windmill's floor, and they escape via the arms of the windmill just before the entire building explodes.
  • The horseman then chases the three (who are in a carriage) on horseback. Crane shoots the horseman but then gets clotheslined by a tree branch and falls off with the horseman hanging onto the back of the carriage. Crane then jumps onto the horseman's back as they're dragged behind it. Once on the carriage, the horseman nearly hits Crane with his sword and the two then fight until the carriage crashes and lands on top of the horseman.
  • A person shoots Crane and he then struggles with that person to gain control of a magic skull. Masbath eventually hits that other person over the head just as the horseman nearly gets Katrina.
  • Back in human form, the horseman kisses a woman but then turns out to be biting her and blood pours out between their lips and their mouths are bloody.



  • Reviewed November 11, 1999 / Posted November 19, 1999

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