Sleepy Hollow (1999)


Watch Your Heads

October Horror-thon continues, as does my pleas to get my friend Loni back into my reviews, with the Tim Burton movie Sleepy Hollow. I wasn’t really sure if this movie was actually intended to be a horror movie when I pulled it out of my collection, but I feel like it holds up. Plus, Johnny Depp is in it, so Loni should be in. Sleepy Hollow is directed by Tim Burton, and stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Lee, and Ian McDiarmid, as well as some stunt work by Ray Park, so I get to reuse so many people that have been in my reviews before and will be again when I lay down some Harry Potter goodness.

1799, New York City, constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a strange character and investigator of murders. His superiors do not agree of his scientific autopsy techniques, but they dispatch him to Sleepy Hollow to investigate some recent murders. Those murders involve the decapitation of 5 people, with their heads going missing. He gets there to investigate and is greeted by the cleavage of Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci). At first, his scientific mind leads him to believe that a mortal serial killer is using the towns mythos to hide his crimes, taking this movie dangerously close to the other Johnny Depp joint, From Hell. But Crane soon finds out that the killer is actually the mythological creature called the Headless Horseman (at this point, Ray Park). Crane is told that the Horseman was once a brutal and sadistic Hessian mercenary (Christopher Walken, when his head is on) who was beheaded for his brutality and has come back to life because someone stole his noggin and is using it to control him. Crane then systematically suspects everybody in the town until they come up dead and he starts suspecting the next person he sees.

This movie is pretty thoroughly meh, if I might scare Loni off again. There are lots of things that work and a couple things that don’t. The story itself is pretty solid but I found myself drifting out of it from time to time. Tim Burton, as he seems to like doing, has taken a classic story and made it more dark and twisted. This time, he took an older story from the 1800s or so that was then made into a Disney movie. I pretty much only knew about it from the Disney movie, and I don’t even remember that very well because I didn’t like it that much. But this is a story that works as a darker, gory version. Unfortunately, he also felt the need to add in things about how Crane wanted to use science and autopsies in a time where that was frowned upon and things about conspiracies in the small town. I had always heard the story that the Horseman took heads because he lost his and wanted a new one (and who wouldn’t want Johnny Depp’s head, am I right, Loni?), and that story would work on it’s own. And, according to Wikipedia, the Horseman was more than likely Van Tassel’s other suitor, Brom (Casper Van Dien), who killed Crane to get Christina Ricci (which I would totally do as well). Both of those stories work on their own, we don’t need back story about autopsies and conspiracy and some confusing thing about Ichabod’s mother. That stuff was boring. But the Horseman parts were pretty sweet.

As with most Tim Burton movies, the look and atmosphere trump all else. Sleepy Hollow and the surrounding area seem to be practically devoid of sunlight and are constantly drenched in fog and spooky looking trees. The coolest things were surrounding the gore. The decapitated heads were very realistic. I know 1999 isn’t THAT old, but I’ve seen big budget movies that have come out recently that have worse looking heads than this one does. All of those gory effects worked very well. And when Depp starts hacking into the tree that sits over the Horseman’s body, and the tree seems to bleed and have flesh underneath it, that was very well done and creepy as well. The costumes were nice looking as well. I especially loved the cleavage. Also, I wanna get one of them jackets like Johnny wears in this. I like those old style jackets and I need to find one that isn’t ridiculously priced.

The performances are mostly bland or hammed up. And this movie (I think) was going for a horror movie vibe, but had no scares. It had gore, so it could be a slasher film, but most of the main actors seemed to go more for an odd quirky comedy performance, and I didn’t think it fit. I didn’t really get the character Johnny Depp was going for. He was a constable, so you’d assume he’s seen death pretty frequently, and he was a big proponent for autopsies, but he gets squeamish looking at gore. Well, sometimes. Other times he dove right in. Christina Ricci made no real impact on me beyond her hotness. I got really sad when I recognized Dead Dumbledore was in this ’cause he dead now, but he did a fine job at his smaller part. But there were a lot of big actors with smaller parts in this movie. Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) was in this, Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), the dude from Starship Troopers (Casper Van Dien), Spike from Stay Tuned (Jeffrey Jones), Sarumon (Christopher Lee), and Alfred (Michael Gough) were all in this, but all had pretty small parts. Christopher Walken was creepy, but kinda hammed it up as the Horseman. But that explains the greater majority of Christopher Walken performances. Creepy, weird, and a little hammed up.

That’ll do for this review. It’s a decent enough watch with a hit or miss story and matching performances, but you can’t deny the appeal of Tim Burton’s style. I’ll go ahead (get it? a head!) and give this movie “You are bewitched by reason” out of “He was dead to begin with.”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.

Alpha and Omega (2010)


Today RedBox supplied me with an animated movie from last year known as Alpha and Omega, with the voices of Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, and Christina Ricci. If I remember correctly, I believe I first became mildly interested in this movie after seeing that Panettiere and Ricci were in it, and they are hot, and they played those little interview videos with them and showed clips of the movie at Best Buy and piqued my interest. I never really got around to looking for it in theaters or on DVD, but I found it while browzing the RedBox and decided to give it a go.

Alpha and Omega is the story of two wolves (one an alpha, the other an omega … isn’t that wacky?!) who grew up together until one of them went off to train to be an alpha. Before this gets any more confusing than it deserves, in this movie an alpha is one of the top hunters and an omega is … not. Kate (Panettiere) is the alpha and Humphrey (Long) is the omega. So they quickly grow up and Humphrey is a wacky, goofy slacker, and Kate is a straight-laced hunter. Quite the original combination, I know. Anyways, Kate is the daughter of the leader of the western pack of wolves (Glover), who forms a contract with the leader of the eastern pack (Hopper) in times of low food. The contract is that Glover’s daughter, Kate, will marry Hopper’s son and combine and lead the two packs. It’s probably not too much of a surprise at this point, but Humphrey also loves Kate. Kate and the eastern pack … prince, I guess, (named Garth) are supposed to meet up at some moon-howling party. This basically entails that the wolves get up on a mountain and howl together, and howling is either the wolf version of a date or straight up fuckin. Well Garth is no good at howling and that turns Kate off. She wants a wolf with a long, hard howl, and Garth’s is weak and unsatisfying. So Kate wanders off and bumps into Humphrey and they fight about something before they are both shot with tranquilizers by humans and taken to Idaho to get their howl on and repopulate the wolf population down there.

Back in Canada, the wolf packs get to arguing and threatening with war now that Kate’s disappeared and it’s determined that, if Kate doesn’t get back in a few days, they are going to howl up the rest of the wolves. Kate sets on her way back to Canada and Humphrey follows. Back in Canada, Garth starts falling for Lilly (Ricci), Kate’s younger sister. He probably doesn’t howl the shit out of her out of respect for her sister. And Kate and Humphrey go through all sorts of shenanigans and goings-ons on their way back home. Will the two ever fall in love? Tune in to find out … or don’t, this movie sucked.

There were MANY problems with this movie. The first one is that the commercials they put on the screens at Best Buy must have been the ONLY decent animation in the entire movie. The backgrounds are colorful and pretty, but the character animations are stiff, unrealistic, and ugly. This could be forgivable with a quality story or a laugh or two … and someone should have told them that. The story is what Romeo and Juliet would be if Shakespeare was retarded. And the characters seem to attempt to be funny only to fail drastically. I did not laugh or even crack a smile through this entire movie. Something about the movie pretty much shut me down in the first 15 minutes and never got me back. The movie even managed to drain any and all funny out of the usually hilarious Larry Miller, who plays a bald turkey or something that helps the two wolves return home. The howling scenes, which as I said are either innuendo for fucking or, in some occasions, are quasi-musical numbers with little to no words and just random howls instead. These are completely cringe inducing. Cringe or bash-your-head-against-things inducing. And the logical errors cannot be forgiven! There is a scene where the turkey bird (or whatever Larry Miller’s bird was supposed to be) is dragging Humphrey (the adult wolf!) behind him and eventually takes flight with the wolf hanging from his feet. If a ambiguous turkey bird had that kind of wing strength, I think that could be a solid defense mechanism and then it may be a little too difficult to eat Larry Miller for Thanksgiving. Also, there’s a scene that would make my gun-crazy friend Mike punch himself in the dick, as a missed shot from a shotgun aimed at the two wolves misses and tears a wolf-sized hole in the chain link fence.

Okay, I know what some of you may be saying: “Obviously this movie was meant for kids and not for you”, and there was a time when this would be an acceptable excuse. But I think nowadays Pixar has set that bar a little higher than that, where a movie can be both enthralling to children and entertaining to their parents as well. And don’t insult your children with this movie, they’re smart enough for Pixar. Watch you some Wall-E. That shit is howling awesome.

Also, I feel that I should take it down a notch and say that this was far from the worst movie ever, there’s just no reason to see it. That’s why I give it a “skip it” out of 22 1/2.