On my recent journey to Hollywood Land, I was abducted by Moriarty at my hotel. He took me to what I can only call his buddy's DR EVIL's chain of Big Boy restaurants and stuffed gargantuan amounts of ground cow into me. MMmmmmm Ground Cow. Then he threw me into the trunk of his Souped-up Tucker Hearse. The third eye beam cutting through the brown smog like a gas-lit lantern in the cobblestone streets of London. Moriarty hasn't come as far as he thought. From time to time I still hear his cackling in my mind, and this time, here's what the voice said...
Hey, Head Geek...
It recently occurred to me that the reason all my henchmen are so bloody stupid (aside from the fact that I'm comparing their intellect to that of myself, an Evil Genius), is because their brains don't work. In an effort to fix the problem, I have been doing my best to genetically create a strain of henchmen that come without heads, thereby eliminating the whole brain problem.
Oddly enough, while I was in the middle of beta testing one of these new Headless Henchmen (all rights reserved, patent pending), someone delivered the script to Tim Burton's new SLEEPY HOLLOW project to my doorstep. Being a Burton fan from FRANKENWEENIE on, I had to immediately rip through the entire thing.
As we all know by now, VARIETY has reported that Johnny Depp will play Ichabod Crane. It also stated that Christina Ricci was likely to play Katrina Van Tassel. In their initial reports, they went on to describe Ichabod as a schoolteacher who battles Brom Bones for Katrina's hand.
That plot summary works for the original Washington Irving story, but it has nothing to do with the new film. The script was written by Andrew Kevin Walker (SE7EN), based on a story by Walker with Kevin Yeagher. For those of you who don't know Yeagher, he's a makeup FX artist turned director. He was one of the contributors to HELLRAISER: BLOODLINES. It reads to me like this script was written for Yeagher to direct. Trouble is, it also reads like a $75 million film. A damn good one.
I must say -- it's a marvelous read, edgy and intoxicating. It's a full-fledged horror film. There is indeed a Headless Horseman, and he's been haunting Sleepy Hollow, having claimed three heads already.
Ichabod Crane is a constable in New York City. The year is 1788. Ichabod is disgusted by what passes as "justice" and "police work." He sees his fellow cops beat and torture false confessions out of prisoners. He believes that science can be applied to turn police work into something that is precise, based on logic, deduction. Although Ichabod's ideas aren't original, they are damn near heretical. He is given the Sleepy Hollow job because his superiors want him out of New York, out of their sight. They tell him to solve (and stop) the beheadings using his "science," or not to come back.
What unfolds is a genuinely freaky and scary horror rollercoaster, with a heck of a likable hero at the heart of it. I'm going to go on record and say that this will finally be Johnny Depp's first big, big, BIG commercial hit. The Headless Horseman is a fantastic villain, the Terminator from Hell (literally), with a great backstory. He's not the main villain, though, since we learn early on that he's under the control of someone from Sleepy Hollow. The question of who is the film's main focus. Yes, that's right, the film is a mystery, one that actually challenges the viewer to keep guessing. It's also blatantly supernatural.
Katrina Van Tassel and Brom Bones are both in the film, but their roles are profoundly different than in Irving's story. This will no doubt shock and offend some purists, but let me assure you -- it's a great story on its own, and it is a case of radical revisionism resulting in something exciting and new. Anyone who's looking for the famous midnight ride should go ahead and start kicking and screaming now. This is not going to give you what you expect. What it will give you is a unique new chapter in Tim's filmography. Personally, I am very, very excited about this project and am thrilled he's doing it instead of SUPERMAN. I'll be there first show.
Right now, though, one of my even-more-retarded Headless Henchmen is trying to work his way through the whole hat conundrum, thereby obligating me to go take care of him. Until next time...