Just in time for Halloween, I re-watched Tim Burton’s 1999 treat, Sleepy Hollow for my podcast Depp Impact and this movie is a wealth of riches. Christopher Walken plays our Headless Hessian and doesn’t say a word, Christina Ricci is delicate and beautiful, and Johnny Depp is using an actual American accent. Burton is at the top of his atmosphere game and gives his female characters something to work with. It’s not the Disney animated movie The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but it’s just as good! Wow! The gifts never stop giving!
It’s a story about Icabod Crane (the Deppster), a squeamish constable sent to Sleepy Hollow to prove a paranormal presence is not guilty of beheading many major clergymen and midwives in the small town, and instead it is some insidious real people shit.
SPOILER ALERT. It’s spooky witchcraft from hell AS WELL as insidious real people shit and the whole town is in on the treachery. If you haven’t seen the film yet, it came out in 1999 and it is on Netflix, but I won’t spoil too much.
The reasons I love this movie are copious. It’s a movie that explores the idea of pompous dickheads being clueless when it comes to the way the world works and if you are a corrupt jerk, you might get a stake through the heart. Science and religion are endlessly compared, but actually have compelling arguments of how both can exist in society, as long as we respect each for the hope they provide their biggest fans, and maybe don’t kill people in the name of either. Ricci and Richardson drive the plot forward and right the wrongs of the more trigger-happy men. They’re methodical and passionate without being boring. They’re bad when they gotta be bad and we’re better off for it. This was also the time when Burton was in love with Lisa Marie, so her beautiful bodice shows up and show out. It’s a highlight.
Burton is operating in peak Sad-Pale-Town-Land and Depp is at his everyman-est. I always say Depp is best when he’s listening and allowed to be squirrely, and this is a great showcase for that. He’s weird without being WEIRD. Miranda Richardson is the true star of this film. She kicks axe (lulz) and takes names and “gets the man” in the end. Christopher Walken says nothing but “HEH” to a horse for the runtime. Sometimes the dialogue is corny in that 1999 way, but the story and the special effects still hold up. There’s also a horse leaping out of a bloody tree, making this the greatest movie ever made.
But truly, this movie is a joy to experience 10 years after I first fell in love with the aesthetic. Sure, the men at the heart of this film are troubled in our modern lens. Burton has been quoted as not believing people of color fit his aesthetic (…what…) and Johnny Depp is… well, Johnny Depp…but Burton’s work is a gateway to horror movies that are often beautiful and moderately disturbing, while still being accessible in their bizarreness. As a kid, I loved spooky things but was so scared of spooky movies. Through movies like Nightmare Before Christmas, Mars Attacks!, and Sleepy Hollow I was able to explore more traditional, and lesser known, cult films , shaping my tastes to this day.
Original article appears on cinema76.com
Krueger. The name on everybody’s sleepy lips. A burn victim. A child murderer. Depending on what adaptation you’re watching, he may have also been a piece of shit child rapist. Fan of one-liners. Not a fan of parents, or having backs turned on him. But to most… a celebrated fashion icon.
In a world dressed for summer, Kreuger stands alone. A sweater in a sea of crop tops. Color clashing in a dreamworld of bright white nightgowns. A single glove without a pair, pre-Michael Jackson. An oversized sweater fit for the pages of an Urban Outfitters or Anthropology ad. Hems? Never heard of ‘ems.
And does anybody still wear…. A hat.
I experienced A Nightmare on Elm Street first as a child watching TV with my father. He loved to put on films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, and The Exorcist not only because he wanted to watch what he wanted to watch, but also because it’s a great way to get your kids to leave you alone when they’re too scared to enter the room.
As an adult, Dan Scully and I revisited the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and it has quickly become my favorite.
Fred (Freddy if you’re nasty) fascinates me. The design of his face (inspired by a pepperoni pizza) is striking and Robert Englund is a treasure of an actor. Freddy is something more than a movie monster, thanks to Englund. He’s a force of nature with a swagger and a twinkle in his eye. In the first few films, he’s barely in the movies. Freddy is a symbol of fear. The unseen Boogey Man who will come after you at your most vulnerable: in your sleep. As the series went on, the folks behind the Nightmare series realized that we weren’t there for Nancy or Rooney Mara. We are watching for Freddy. We want his one-liners and we want to watch him wreck these fine folks in the most gruesome way possible.
But most of all, we want to follow his fashion. In the fall runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12, Crystal Methyd come out in a full Freddy fantasy.
Freddy is also a DIY craftsman! He welded a metal glove that paved the way for (Nightmare alumni) Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands. Freddy inspired 80’s rap songs and novelty albums. Alice Cooper did a track for Freddy! There was a TV show titeld “Freddy’s Nightmares” in the 80’s that had Freddy hosting each episode, celebrating deaths in Springwood. It’s hard to hate someone with this much talent and pop culture appeal.
It all comes back to the human need to follow bad people. Freddy is the baddest of bad and we love him for it. He’s the ultimate monster because he’s ruthless and cool to look at. We’re “drawn to doom” and “enamored of ruin”. We can’t help but stop and watch the carnage go down. And when you’re as iconic to look at as a dirty ass sweater… well. You’re unstoppable. Take our money.
Oh, and never forget his fashion sunglasses. They really tied the outfit together.
In case you were curious, my very official (unofficial) ranking of the series:
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
2. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
3. Freddy vrs. Jason
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Master
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Child
8. 2010 Remake
9. Freddy’s Dead: Final Nightmare
Original post on Cinema76.com