"The masters of phantasmagoria are back, prodding the
darker sides of our imaginations with another surrealist
excursion on the eerier side of strange and supernatural. Since
first uniting forces with Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985),
Danny Elfman and Tim Burton (a former fan of Elfman’s
eclectic pop group Oingo Boingo) have formed a formidable
composer/director partnership that has spawned Beetlejuice,
Edward Scissorhands, the first two Batman features, Mars Attacks!
and now, Sleepy Hollow.
Their forte is stylised artifice with a Gothic, bleak and
brooding bent, sometimes merely menacing, at others definitely
nightmarish. Sleepy Hollow again nestles around the same macabre
template with a visual landscape in the domain of The Brothers
Grimm fairytale come Hammer horror production, and an Elfman
score that resides in the witching hour and spectral sierra of
Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain.
Unlike Lisa Simpson – banished from band practice for
freely improvising outside Elfman’s theme tune – Elfman
himself presents a score that supports and compliments
Burton’s outlandish vision rather than risking conflict with
overwrought enhancement. Replete with sinister strings, accented
brass and the obligatory heterogeneous chorus of voices monastic,
angelic and demonic, the brumous* aural ambience of the score
provides a custom fitted sheath for the movie’s dark and
On its own, the music still remains impressive, but would
possibly be most enjoyed by dedicated fans of Elfman, or the
movie… or those seeking the perfect mood music for a round
of pin the cranium on the headless horseman."
* Ed: I looked up brumous: it means fog, misty, wintry….