Johnny Depp is Scary

I am forever on a campaign to increase your Scary Movie Edumacation. As such, I have compiled a compendium of the Spooky Cinema, of Freaky Film, of Malevolent Movies. There is every different kind of Scary Movie, from the Classics to Family Entertainment to downright eerie stuff.

As I was sifting through the movies to bring you this year, I noticed that three of them had Johnny Depp. I got inspired: why not review EVERY Scary Johnny Depp movie? Below I have 8 brand new reviews (plus two I got to in years' past). I am personally not a fan of all the films, but I have tried to write them up in such a way to give you the requisite information as to whether you would enjoy them, and if so, to watch with friends or family. Whether you're hosting or attending a Halloween party this weekend, looking to teach the young'uns some Cultural History, or just looking for a flick to scare the jeepers out of (and the pants off of) your main squeeze, I have just the thing:

Previously Reviewed:

Johnny Depp marauds all over the place as Jack
Skellington in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and backs his way into one strange family in CORPSE BRIDE (Read Reviews here.)

Brand New Reviews:

In the Not-so-much category:

Johnny Depp is the world's worst cross-dressing-monster-movie director (but with a heart of Gold)
Tim Burton's Biopic ED WOOD.

Johnny Depp is a writer (who can't write) accused of plagiarism while his life falls apart in the
Stephen King adaptation SECRET WINDOW.

In the compelling-if-ultimately-strange category:

Johnny Depp is a rare books dealer who comes upon a tome that just might bring Hell on Earth, and people are dying to get it in
Roman Polanski's THE NINTH GATE.

Johnny Depp is a murderous barber (who sings!) and you don't even want to know what he does with the bodies in the strangest musical in some time

In the absolute-classic-why-haven't-you-watched-it-? category:

Johnny Depp is really really young, which is more than we can say for poor Fred in the original

Johnny Depp cuts your hair, your bushes, and anything else he can get his hands on in the all time great

And in our featured-presentation category:

For three months Jack the Ripper had all of London in an absolute frenzy. Though the killings were "only" poor women--mostly prostitutes--they were horrifically gruesome, and shattered whatever veneer of civility London pretended. Perhaps the most studied murder case in all of world history, the killings have never been solved, the murderer never concretely identified, though multiple theories certainly abound.

It is into this ocean that FROM HELL wades. While the gruesome murders are in some way (we will never really understand) the point of the murderer, it is not the point of the movie. That makes a huge amount of difference.

The idea is: to solve a crime you must solve the entire culture or society in which the crime is committed. Sounds intriguing, no?

And that's what FROM HELL is really about. The Victorian myth is shattered, both in our eyes, and in theirs, as Inspector Frederick Abberline seeks to rip off the mask that both the Ripper and London are hiding behind.

For more see Johnny Depp as a opium-addicted psychic in FROM HELL.

and since some of you bastards just won't click on any of these links (and I really would like one of these reviews to be read, since I worked so hard and all), we present:

Movie-Hype (#750) - SLEEPY HOLLOW

It must be said at some point--so I am saying it right up front--that Tim Burton's SLEEPY HOLLOW takes several hard left turns from Washington Irving's beloved story. Purists might object. Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a time-honored classic, and might make a wonderful film adaptation. I won't ague the point.

However, a faithful rendition of Washington Irving's spooky tale would not--could not--come from Tim Burton, and friends, let me tell you: we are lucky the demented madman came aboard.

SLEEPY HOLLOW takes place in 1799, the dawn of a new age, where men turn to science for answers, not superstition. At least, that's Ichabod Crane's hope. a reform-minded man, Crane is the police officer sent to investigate the strange spate of deaths in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Johnny Depp plays Crane, and all of theoriginal personality ticks are there. Squeamishness at the sight of blood. Belief in science over spirits. A strange appearance. Um....a demeanor so sissified, that even back in ol' Washington Irving's day they had to be thinking, yup, he's a cake boy.

However, while a gay Ichabod Crane might lead some to conceive of Sleepy Hollow pornographic titles (sadly, I decided to cut the fifteen I came up with), our Ichabod isn't fruity, just very shy. And given to womanish screaming. And he faints.

A lot.

Come to think of it, that's pretty much the definition of any male scientist.

I'm wasting time, so let me get to the point: SLEEPY HOLLOW works really well as a Halloween movie. Shockingly well. The story isn't wildly original, as it comes from a veryfamiliar source, and even the veer into the supernatural is fairly straight-forward. And we've all seen a period piece of a small town with secrets to hide.

But dammit, I don't care. SLEEPY HOLLOW is just awesome, and I won't say otherwise.

Johnny Depp gives another great performance, quirky as always, but fresh and new. However, my second favorite part of the movie is Christina Ricci's Katrina Van Tassel. The acting is fine and all, but I just cannot get over the way she looks. It haunts me, and I am mesmerized.

(Truly: every time SLEEPY HOLLOW comes on TNT I end up watching 30 minutes or so, AND HYPERION HATES EDITED MOVIES ON CABLE, if only to see Ricci's Katrina.)

The side characters really work too, with perennial historical favorite Jeffrey Jones, as well as Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Count Dooku and Emperor Palpatine and Darth Maul! (Okay, the actors who play all three, but how cool/weird is that?) The idiot Starship Trooper Casper Van Dien even shows up, for the bizarre reason that he's related to the real-life Van Tressels. (While true, I don't know if that's the real reason he was cast. However, while you would never willingly pick Casper, he does great at being schmucky, which is his job.)

I mentioned my second favorite part of the movie is Ricci. This is because my favorite part (mine and everybody else's), is the headless horseman himself. Let me say: he does not disappoint.

While you can find the actor on IMDB, I encourage you not to. See the film without knowing who you are looking at. When it all finally comes together, it makes more sense than peanut butter and chocolate.

I'm all over the map here, so let's bring it home. SLEEPY HOLLOW isn't Shakespeare. The acting is great, but in a monster movie kind of way. That's not why you're watching. You show up to see if they bring the Scary, and they do. Plenty of chills. Some great stunts too. (Depp does all his own, which you'll appreciate more at the end). Great makeup, which I almost never mention, but here it's almost a character. And there's a romance, albeit with the world's wimpiest leading man.

It's hard to say why one likes one movie but not another. A few minutes ago I wrote a review for SWEENEY TODD, which basically disappointed me, as did ED WOOD. Both featured Depp and Burton. On the other hand, I'd sing a song about EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. SLEEPY HOLLOW isn't quite that good, but it strikes me much the same way. I just enjoy the hell out of it.

Suspension of Disbelief Index: Uh, we're talking Tim Burton here. 10.

Genre Grade: I wouldn't really call SLEEPY HOLLOW a horror film, but it's definitely a Scary Movie, and by that standard I'd give it an A- to an A.

Objectionable Material. Somewhat to my surprise I notice SLEEPY HOLLOW is Rated R. It could be all the bastardized viewings on cable. I'm going from memory here. There are 18beheadings , but it's fairly theatrical. I don't recall any over-the-top scariness, but the entire film is creepy, so I would absolutely not let kids watch this. Middle School is up to the folks, but high school and up should be plenty safe.

DVD material? Mostly about the production, which is fairly complicated, so you may be quite interested.

Pantheon Percentile: Because of the stylized look, SLEEPY HOLLOW should never be outdated. I can see putting it on the yearly Halloween rotation. 88.

I don't wish all my readers dead,
but I wouldn't mind a few paper-cuts

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