Thursday, October 07, 2010
31 Days of Halloween - Day 7 - Movie 1
Coming across it at the library, I decided to watch The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1999), a Canadian made for tv movie which aired on the Hallmark Channel and came out the same year as Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. While Tim Burton's interpretation of Washington Irving's classic tale took extensive liberties with the source material, this production did not. Bookended with scenes set in a tavern with Washington Irving writing down local stories being told to him, including this one, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow stays close to Washington's tale of Ichabod Crane, the new schoolmaster of Sleepy Hollow, his ambitions to marry local rich girl, Katrina Van Tassle, and his fateful run in with the headless horseman.
As with what you'd expect from a Hallmark production, this movie tends to be stagey and it's limited budget shows. Most of the cast are capable, but not noteworthy, with a couple of exceptions, which I'll get to in a moment. Paul Lemelin, who plays Brom Bones seems terribly miscast. His whole look and demeanor, and especially his air suggest an actor better suited as the generically handsome boyfriend on The Facts of Life. On the plus side, Vlasta Vrana plays Baltus Van Tassle, Katrina's father in a spirited manner that suggests he sees Ichabod for the fool that he is which brings life to scenes that he shares with Ichabod. Brent Carver is a great Ichabod Crane. He reminded me of a lighter Brad Dourif. Carver looks just like we all imagine Ichabod to look like and plays him as a pompous self-assured fool who views himself superior than those around him, convincing many of them that this is true, but completely unaware of the disdain and ridicule aimed at him by anyone who sees through his pretenses. Washington's Crane was not a likable fellow either so his encounter with the headless horseman is a case of just desserts.
As for the headless horseman. This movie spends a great deal of time with Ichabod (it is his story after all) padding out Washington's slight story to fill the running time. Instances which could have provided nice exciting, spooky visual interruptions to the more mundane aspects of the story are not taken advantage of, and when Ichabod and the Horseman finally do meet, it is a very brief sequence, maybe five minutes long total, that's filmed without any flair or excitement, and it's often confusing who is where. That, and the special effects are pretty hokey. The story tries to have it both ways on whether the headless horseman is really Brom Bones, or a ghost, but succeeds with neither.
I don't regret watching it, but it moves a bit slowly and suffers from missed opportunities. My kids were bored by it. It feels like a made for tv Halloween special from about 30 years ago, meaning it has no real scares and nothing terribly memorable to it; the visual equivalent of one of the bite-sized candy bars in abundnace in October. It's the sort of thing I'd gladly have sat through as a kid on a rainy Autumn night which makes me like it more than it probably deserves.