Fiction / Horror

The Many Incarnations of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Written by: Washington Irving

Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus

            The Legend of Sleepy Hollow offers the ultimate in Halloween spooky tales.  It was a story that originated from author Washington Irving in 1819 New York.  The story centers around a love triangle between Schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel and ends in the demise of Ichabod at the hands of the Headless Horseman, the ghost of a Hessian soldier who searches nightly for the head he lost in battle during the Revolutionary War.  This story has been told so many times and in so many unique ways, I just thought I would share the scare with you. 

            They say that nothing beats the original.  I love the original version of this tale.  Washington Irving really knew how to set the stage so it feels as though you are actually there.  When the Headless Horseman is chasing Ichabod Crane, I could feel the sweat that he was experiencing while trying to get away.  I really loved how the author left what really happened to Crane at the bridge up to the reader’s imagination.  The book is a quick read and makes a perfect ghost story.

            If reading the tale isn’t for you, try watching it.  There have been several movies and television shows.  One of my favorites is an animated version by Walt Disney entitled The Adventures of Ichabod.  The movie was made in 1950 and narrated by Bing Crosby, who sings like an angel.  The animation would give cartoons of the day a run for their money.  Best of all, it is great for kids – not too scary.  Hey, it’s Disney, so go ahead and indulge!

            I also enjoyed a movie called The Hollow which was created for ABC Family.  This is for a much older crowd as it includes some scenes of graphic violence.  The story is about the Headless Horseman but with a twist.  In this version of the tale, he is after anyone related to Ichabod Crane.  Starring Kevin Zegers, Kaley Cuoco, Judge Reinhold, Stacey Keach and Nick Carter, I found the movie to be a bit different but still enjoyable.  ABC Family usually airs The Hollow as one of its “13 Nights of Halloween” specials leading up to the big day on October 31st

            Johnny Depp stars in a remake called Sleepy Hollow, portraying Ichabod Crane as an early American detective investigating the murders in the town of Sleepy Hollow.  It was an interesting tale, but definitely not for children.  The film is very dark and doesn’t follow Washington Irving’s version at all.  I think the uniqueness of the story is what made it so enjoyable.

            Any way you chalk it up, this is one ghost story that everyone loves.  Whether you read it, watch it or tell it to a gathering at your home, Halloween will not be complete without some rendition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


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