Post by Mark T. Locker.
As a lover of the season of Halloween, our family is always on the hunt for fun, spooky movies. The problem is they have to be bearable for an easily frightened (but VERY arbitrarily frightened) seven-year-old. So we decided to dust off our copy of the 1949 Disney classic interpretation of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. Inexplicably, Disney packaged it with “The Adventures of Mr. Toad” which is based on The Wind in the Willows which is rather un-spooky.
So the first forty minutes of this movie I was begging my kid to let me skip ahead. But he wouldn’t relent. It wasn’t awful; it just wasn’t what I had come here to watch. My kid loved it. Mr. Toad gets himself into some trouble and his sprawling estate is given over to the criminal weasel gang and Mr. Toad is imprisoned. Conspiracies are uncovered and Toad and his friends fight to right the wrongs done to him. Somehow all of this must relate to the ride at Disneyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. What that relationship is, I do not know.
Then, quite suddenly, we are transported from 1908 England to upstate New York in 1790. We all know Ichabod Crane: the gangly, food-obsessed new schoolteacher in Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod is in love with the lovely Katrina. So is Brom. After many thwarted attempts to garner her attention away from Ichabod, Brom hatches a plan. Knowing that Ichabod is a highly superstitious man, he tells a terrifying story about the legend of the Headless Horseman who roams the land searching for his head. Ichabod is frightened and on his way home sees shapes and hears eerie sounds in everything. Suddenly, a figure on a horse rears up before him! It’s the Headless Horseman! A frightening chase ensues. The next day, all they find is a smashed pumpkin and Ichabod’s hat. He is never seen in Sleepy Hollow again.
Pretty darned harmless cartoon, only about 2o minutes long, this Halloween classic is sure to provide chills to kids without much worry for nightmares. They can watch it while the grown-ups finish the half-gutted pumpkins!