Let's Be Honest About What a Nightmare Factory The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Is
I have all kinds of warm and fuzzy Halloween memories from my childhood, even though the holiday is, by nature, based on scary things. Mostly I remember fondly all of my costumes as a kid, going trick-or-treating with my sisters, and, in the days after, boosting each other up to get our candy bags off the shelf in my mom's closet where she tried to keep them from us. There is one tradition that we had, however, that was not really all that cool and probably helped seed my adult hatred of horror movies: we watched Disney's "animated classic" The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
It seems innocent enough — the 1949 film is based on Washington Irving's early American folk tale, and good ol' Bing Crosby sings throughout. Until Ichabod Crane is murdered on his way home from a Halloween party by a ghoul who would in no way be considered an appropriate Disney villain today. Modern iterations of the tale — the 1999 Tim Burton live-action movie and the live-action Fox drama — have the decency to portray it with the amount of scariness it deserves, but many of us were probably subject to watching the "fun, festive" Disney movie as kids. Herein I will demonstrate exactly why it's not quite the sweet Halloween movie the studio would have you believe, but an Ichabod Crane snuff film.