Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American period horror film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely inspired by the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving and stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Marc Pickering, Michael Gambon, Jeffrey Jones, Casper Van Dien, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, and Christopher Walken. The plot follows police constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) sent from New York City to investigate a series of murders in the village Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman. Development for Sleepy Hollow began in 1993 at Paramount Pictures with Kevin Yagher originally set to direct Andrew Kevin Walker's script as a low-budget slasher film. Disagreements with Paramount resulted in Yagher being demoted to prosthetic makeup designer, and Burton was hired to direct in June 1998. Filming took place from November 1998 to May 1999, and Sleepy Hollow was released to generally favorable reviews from critics, and grossed approximately $207 million worldwide. Production designer Rick Heinrichs and set decorator Peter Young won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
In 1799, New York City police constable Ichabod Crane is dispatched by his superiors to the Westchester County hamlet of Sleepy Hollow, New York, to investigate a series of brutal slayings in which the victims have been found decapitated. A frequent user of new, though so far unproven investigative techniques such as finger-printing and autopsies, Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow armed with his bag of scientific tools only to be informed by the town's elders that the murderer is not of flesh and blood, rather a headless supernatural warrior from beyond the grave who rides at night on a massive black steed. Crane begins his own investigation, still remaining highly skeptical about the supernatural elements until he encounters the Headless Horseman himself. Boarding a room at the home of the town's richest family, the Van Tassels, Crane develops an attraction to their daughter, the mysterious Katrina, even as he's plagued by nightmares of his mother's horrific torture when he was a child. Delving further into the mystery with the aid of the orphaned Young Masbeth, whose father was a victim of the Horseman, Crane discovers within the Western Woods the Horseman's grave, as well as his entry point into the natural world from the supernatural the gnarled Tree of the Dead. Crane finds the Horseman's skull is missing, though the murders continue until Crane uncovers a murky plot revolving around revenge and land rights with the Horseman controlled by Katrina's stepmother, Lady Van Tassel, who sends the killer after Katrina now. Following a fight in the local windmill and a stagecoach chase through the woods, Crane eventually thwarts Lady Van Tassel by returning the skull to the Horseman, who regains his head and heads back to Hell along with his enslaver. With his job in Sleepy Hollow over, Crane, with Katrina and Young Masbeth, returns to New York, in time for the new century.