Director Burton is a different breed of cat. Adjectives like ”creepy,” ”twisted,” and ”macabre” hang around his neck the way Meg Ryan wears ”cute as a button.” And frankly, after talking to him, it’s easy to see why. When asked what drew him to Washington Irving’s classic 18th-century tale about the Headless Horseman, there’s a moment of utter silence. Then Burton earnestly deadpans, ”I’ve always wanted to make a movie where one of the characters didn’t have a head.”
Going head-to-head, so to speak, with the Headless Horseman is Depp, in his third Burton film. (He also appeared in the director’s acclaimed ”Edward Scissorhands” and ”Ed Wood,” though not, luckily for Depp, ”Mars Attacks!”)
As the prim and rational New York City constable Ichabod Crane, Depp journeys upstate to a superstitious hamlet to investigate a series of gory murders in which the victims have been beheaded. The spooked townspeople think the slayings are the grisly work of a galloping homicidal spectre. But Depp’s man of science believes there’s got to be another explanation. Of course, he’s wrong.
Among all the missing noggins and eerie Burton atmospherics is a love story between Ichabod and the porcelain-skinned local beauty played by Ricci (the ”Addams Family” movies, ”The Opposite of Sex”), who helps him in his sleuthing. ”Christina’s got that kind of quality of a silent-movie actor,” says Burton. ”If Peter Lorre and Bette Davis had a child, it would be Christina.”
As for Ricci, even though her role is, in her words, the ”stereotypical damsel in distress,” she says the reason she wanted to work with Burton is because ”his taste isn’t the normal kind of taste… and neither is mine.” Who’d have guessed? Plus, Ricci adds, ”everybody knows the Headless Horseman because it’s so scary–I mean, some hellish creature cutting off people’s heads is frightening.”
So, is ”Sleepy Hollow” a horror movie? A love story? A supernatural detective thriller? ”I don’t know, I’m still editing,” laughs Burton. ”Can I let you know a little later so it looks like I know what I’m talking about?” BUZZ FACTOR: 8
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