I haven’t seen this movie in years, and I think the last time I saw it was the first time I saw it. I’ve been avoiding this movie for a long, long time. And the reason for that is because it is 50% boring and 50% ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.
This is the last of the Disney package films, but these two segments both feel like they could be whole movies if they were longer. I’m glad they’re not, though, because I don’t think my child self could have handled a full-length version of either one of them.
The frame technique here is a library. First we pull out a book for a British story, narrated by Basil Rathbone, and then we’re handed over to Bing Crosby for an American story. I do believe this is the first movie since Bambi to be directly based on literary works, so the opening books are nice touches, I think.
I’ll just say this: I prefer the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride attraction in Disneyland over his animated adventures. I remember being bored to tears by the Mr. Toad segment when I was a wee child, and I wasn’t really that into it this time, either. The thing is, Misters Rat and Mole are both pretty boring, while Mr. Toad just bugs me. He’s reckless and irresponsible and kind of scary looking. Maybe that last part’s just me, though. When he gets that crazed look in his eye after seeing a motorcar for the first time, I was kind of freaked out. Maybe it’s the shape of his head? I don’t know, but something just doesn’t sit right with me when it comes to Mr. Toad.
The other problem is, again, maybe just me, but when I was little, I had no idea what the hell was going on. Something about weasels? There’s a court case and it all hinges on the deed to Toad Manor, and maybe I was a dumb kid, but I had no idea what a deed was or why it was so important. Now that I’m older and wiser in the ways of real estate, I was more invested in the big climactic scene in Toad Manor, but I was still pretty damn bored. It’s only 35 minutes long, but I remember feeling like it would NEVER END. And Mr. Toad doesn’t learn anything by the end of this little movie, even after being put in jail and harassed by weasels.
Let’s just be done with Mr. Toad and his adventures.
I don’t know whose idea it was to make “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” into an animated segment for children. I watched a lot of creepy/scary children’s movies when I was little, and for the most part, I was just fine with them. This one, though. I blocked so much of it out of my mind.
Because it starts out so harmless! Ichabod Crane is the new schoolteacher. There’s a happy little song about him. There’s humor! Music! Romance! We’ve got Katrina, the lovely proto-Cinderella, who has captured Ichabod’s heart. And then there’s Brom, the burly looking rival who looks like Gaston, so I never liked him.
About this romance. Ichabod likes Katrina. Brom likes Katrina. Katrina…seems to like Ichabod. She flirts with him a lot, usually in front of Brom, and they seem to be having a lovely time. As a child, I was totally on Team Ichabod. Yeah, he’s weird-looking, but coming from the generation of Beauty and the Beast, I never saw anything strange about Katrina preferring Ichabod to a guy who looks like Gaston. So, when Katrina ends up marrying Brom at the end, my world was shattered! How could this be? She didn’t even like him! Only now did I understand that Katrina was just playing hard-to-get with Brom the whole time. Ichabod was only a tool in her love games!
What I do rather like about Ichabod’s story is that there isn’t really a shining heroic figure. Brom is too dumb, Katrina’s a tease (I now realize), and Ichabod is…kind of weird. He’s not presented in an entirely flattering light, but he’s not unlikeable, either. Considering that I really thought he was going to save the day and get the girl once upon a time, I can vouch for his appeal, but he’s still a kind of ridiculous figure, especially when his obsession with food comes into play. And then the movie embarrasses me by making fun of fat people. Nice, Disney. Nice.
Okay. After being lulled into a false sense of romantic comedy, the movie switches tactics and becomes a STRAIGHT-UP HORROR MOVIE. Like, out of nowhere! The mood changes so drastically, beginning with Brom’s spooky song about the Headless Horseman, and then onwards to Ichabod’s horse ride home.
Let me share with you some of the notes I took while watching this part of the movie:
–OH GOD, WHY. WHYYYYY. Oh, okay. Not yet. Not yet. Whew.
–OH JESUS. NOW. Whimper.
–WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA FOR A KIDS’ MOVIE?
Not gonna lie, I was scared even now. I do give props for creating such a genuinely scary scene, but dear God, I was not READY for that! All the scariness seriously comes out of nowhere! And then it’s like…is he dead? Is he not? They try to give you a choice in that, but really, you know he’s dead. You know it. You don’t understand how that could have happened, because he’s the MAIN CHARACTER and he was supposed to MARRY THE GIRL, but now she’s marrying the rival, and you’re pretty sure he’s just DEAD.
THE END. SLEEP WELL, CHILDREN.
Next person who tells me that Disney movies are all sugar and fluff and rainbows with happy endings and puppies, I’m going to force this move upon them.
Favorite scene: Ichabod Crane
Because it’s a happy song about our hero! Nothing scary going on here, nothing at all! Just a happy tune! Surely, this movie will not contain fiery pumpkins of death!
Next time: Cinderella!