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Revisiting Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW And MORE!
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The Bite #83
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Revisiting Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW And MORE!

November 5, 2019

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY: THE MATURE MORALITY OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

By Jonathan Barkan*

Fairy tales have long served as a moral guiding light for children. The works of The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, among others, have been cannibalized repeatedly throughout film history, each new adaptation attempting to outdo the last. We grew up on these stories, following Alice down the rabbit hole, flying with Aladdin over the Arabian Desert, and swimming in the depths of the ocean with Ariel. For many of us, our imaginations were molded by the Disney iterations of these fables. But most of the original stories feature some of the bleakest and most horrifying moments in literature.

William Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, first published in 1820 in the literary collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., breathed new life into the medieval mythical figure the Headless Horseman. While there’s no doubt that Disney’s 1949 film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, cemented the Horseman as an iconic villain in the pop-cultural zeitgeist, Tim Burton’s 1999 adaptation, Sleepy Hollow, reinvented the character and the story for an entire generation. The film beautifully combined the tone and ambiance of a gothic fairy tale with genuinely shocking horror, necessitating its R-rating.

Tim Burton has always created films that appealed to our inner child. Edward ScissorhandsBeetlejuice, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure were all reminders that a childlike wonder is a powerful tool. Sleepy Hollow did the same, telling the story of a bumbling but well-intentioned hero who comes to a sleepy village to investigate the deaths of several of its citizens. Throw in a beautiful damsel, a witch in the woods, and a supernatural villain and this bears all the hallmarks of a spooky bedtime story that plays with the tropes of a moralistic fairy tale.

Burton’s own childlike wonder feeds on his love of all things gruesome at the best of times, and Sleepy Hollow was no exception. Through Ichabod and the Headless Horseman, he managed to take a Disney animated classic for kids and make a horror film for adults without compromising on dark whimsy or wonder. He littered the film with beheadings and copious fountains of blood while tackling challenging topics like infidelity and infanticide, taking Irving’s myth and making it a morality tale for grown-ups. Where the fairy tales of our youth such as Hansel and GrettleCinderella, or Sleeping Beauty taught us the simple lessons of childhood right and wrong, Sleepy Hollow defies convention, daring to challenge adults to consider their own greed and duplicity in a world desperately in need of honesty and selflessness.


*Jonathan Barkan was the managing editor of Bloody-Disgusting before moving to Dread Central, where he became the site’s Editor-in-Chief. He also did acquisitions for the horror label DREAD. He currently writes a monthly column on Atom Tickets.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image Of The Week #83 - The Thing Dog Costume - The Bite

Dog Is The Warmest Place To Hide

SFX artist Duke Cullen and his Siberian Husky, Ranger, may have created the best pet costume this Halloween with this killer The Thing cosplay.


TINY BITES

SCREAM, THE GRUDGE AND MORE

BET made a list of 10 horror films where Black characters challenge one of the worst horror tropes by surviving to the end.

This scary supercut features some of the best horror films of the 21st century that’s sure to stir up some heated debates.

Nylon paid homage to the iconic 90s suburban teen fashion in Scream. (The main takeaway: Wear floral if you want to live.)

Slate gets extra meta in their reassessment of Scream 3, the one about sexual assault in Hollywood, in a post-Weinstein world.

Courteney Cox spent Halloween cutting her own bangs á la Scream 3 Gale Weathers and had a special visitor.

If you’re eager for ghost stories that scare you senseless, check out this one about “Old Rufus” and the legless little boy. Be sure to leave a light on.

Nicolas Pesce’s The Grudge finally has a trailer, and it’s so scary we can’t stop rewatching it. Is it January yet?

Cosmopolitan takes a close look at the reality of being a child actor in a horror movie by way of Silent HillThe Exorcist, and The Shining.

If you liked In Fabric, you may also like these other horror gems of killer inanimate objects, from The New York Times.

The New Yorker highlights what happened to the women who helped build Hollywood, including horror legends like Millicent Patrick.

Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted a first look teaser of Halloween Kills … on Halloween! Because GOAT.

If you’ve ever said “Give me the Ghostbusters theme but make it Nine Inch Nails,” William Maranci‘s got you covered.

Tiffany Haddish went through the Us haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights and had a really hard time. It’s probably a good thing she wasn’t there at the same time as Lupita Nyong’o.


Things We Love #83 - The House That Halloween Built - The Bite

THE HOUSE THAT HALLOWEEN BUILT

Halloween mega fan Kenny Caperton built an exact replica of the Myers’ house that he now calls home. Wonder if he’d rent it out as an Airbnb?


HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS

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