Keeping Your Head

Horror is a gift that keeps on giving.  Not many horror fans are among my regular readers, but I like to keep a finger in the pie nevertheless.  Just earlier this month it was announced that Paramount has hired Lindsey Beers to direct a new big screen Sleepy Hollow.  It’s early days, of course, and the movie hasn’t been titled, let alone filmed.  Beers is just wrapping up a prequel for Pet Sematary (not yet titled) that I’ll be eager to see.  Women horror directors tend to bring refreshing angles to the genre—and why shouldn’t they?  Women writers were crucial in developing the Gothic genre that evolved into horror as we know it.  No matter what the Supreme Court says, they are just as important—probably more—than males.

I’ve been reading quite a lot about Sleepy Hollow over the past several months, which is how I came across the intelligence about this new movie.  It’s nice to know that the Hudson Valley is evergreen.  My visits there have offered brushes with the uncanny, but nothing explicit.  A weekend near the ice caves of Sam’s Point, geocaching in the woods outside Poughkeepsie, a visit to Sleepy Hollow itself to visit Irving’s grave and tip my hat to the Old Dutch Church.  With deep family roots in upstate New York, I’ve always thought it would be a great place to live.  Alas, not on an editor’s salary.  It’s been too long since I’ve given the area a visit.

John Quidor, The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, via Wikimedia Commons

There have been many takes on Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  Even in the silent era movies were made of it.  In retrospect, it seems odd that it took so long for Tim Burton to bring it back to the big screen.  There were some television movies, usually with plodding plots to draw the story out to commercial length.  Disney had early on devoted half a feature to it, as if the story couldn’t support its own weight.  For better or worse, that film was probably the first introduction to the tale that many people had—the story itself was written for adults.  Of course, many written kids’ versions have come out since then.  The satirical original was meant for a somewhat sophisticated readership with a sense of humor.  The story lends itself to horror treatments, however, if they’re done well.  It may have been an early viewing of the Disney tale that set me moving in this direction.  I like to think I’ve kept my head over it, however.