You likely know the story well. The Headless Horseman wreaks havoc upon Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., inevitably killing timid schoolteacher Ichabod Crane. But prepare for a rendition of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” that’s unlike any other version of the terrifying tale. (Hint: It involves the biblical book of Revelation.)
Without a doubt, Washington Irving’s short work is one of the most popular Halloween stories in history, leading to its continued adaptation in film, television and pop culture. Following in the footsteps of its previous incarnations is “Sleepy Hollow,” a new FOX television series that premieres tonight at 9 p.m ET.
The television show, though, departs in a big way from the traditional story, which was penned by Irving in 1820. Rather than taking place nearly 200 years ago, the TV show is set in modern-day Sleepy Hollow, a small village in Westchester County, N.Y.
In a major twist, Crane and the Headless Horseman wake-up in 2013 and proceed to continue their centuries-old battle. Of course, authorities have a hard time believing that Crane, who is dressed in garb from centuries past, is telling the truth, but when heads very literally start rolling and bodies pile up, his story becomes a bit more credible.
Here’s the elongated trailer that explains the plot in detail:
Unlike in the original story, Crane isn’t a school teacher; he’s a Revolutionary War veteran who was responsible for beheading the horrifying horseman during a Revolutionary War battle. Following orders from Gen. George Washington, Crane intentionally decapitated the man, hoping that he would kill him off for good.
The only problem? The Headless Horseman is immortal and survived.
While it may seem odd that Crane is shown to be a soldier, by many accounts, Irving actually modeled the character in his original short story after Samuel Youngs, a Revolutionary War hero who went on to become a teacher. So, there could be some truth to the background story (although we can be almost certain that Youngs never came into contact with a devilish Headless Horseman).
As the official description states, the diabolical character comes back to unleash a “murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow” (at one point in the first episode, the Horseman even uses a machine gun to combat police) Crane, who has also inexplicably woken up in the modern-era, sets out with a local cop, Lt. Abbie Mills, to stop the killer from finding his head (which has been hidden in the town for quite some time).
The plot is an exciting, yet far-fetched one — a tale that will appeal to those who have a penchant for the original story, but who also enjoy suspense and ghoulishness. Perhaps one of the more striking and odd pieces of this new-found story is a Biblical tie-in that was weaved into the new rendition.
Rather than a killer without a cause, the Headless Horseman is one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, thus Crane and Mills are protecting not only Sleepy Hollow from his wrath, but also the world at large. While the first episode doesn’t get too deeply into theology — and it’s obviously a stretch in Biblical accuracy — descriptions of the Four Horseman are present in the Book of Revelation.
Considering that there are many different ideas and theories about what the four horsemen actually reference, debate surrounding the subject abounds. GotQuestions.org, a website that provides answers for Christians and others who are seeking Biblical understanding, describes this portion of Revelation as follows:
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in Revelation chapter 6, verses 1-8. The four horsemen are symbolic descriptions of different events which will take place in the end times. The first horseman of the Apocalypse is mentioned in Revelation 6:2: “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” This first horseman likely refers to the Antichrist, who will be given authority and will conquer all who oppose him. The antichrist is the false imitator of the true Christ, who will also return on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16).
Obviously, the Headless Horseman isn’t a Biblical character, nor would his framing fit the description given in the aforementioned text. Still, the decision to fold in Revelation at a time when interest surrounding the End Times is piqued is a fascinating one.
Regardless of where one stands on these matters, the show could shape up to be a fairly entertaining one. Each episode will carry with it flash-backs in American history as well as new and invigorating story lines.
“Clues from the past enlighten mysteries in the present, as each episode features a flashback to Ichabod’s life in 1776,” reads the official FOX website. “Ripe with untold stories from American history and cloaked in mythology, the divide between present and past becomes dangerously blurred.”
Will you be watching?
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