The Top Halloween Movie On Disney+
Just Gather ‘Round And I’ll Elucidate…
So, there is one Disney movie that scared me like no other: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
I come from a time when VHS was just beginning and only rich people had laserdisc, etc. My own first TV — the one I got to watch when the news was on upstairs — was black & white. We actually played and ran free in the local woods. But sometimes, well, the library would hold movie nights (or days). And, sometimes, the school would roll in the video apparatus.
Disney movies were always a staple; probably because, “What parent could object to Uncle Walt’s visions?” However, this says to me that the teachers and librarians didn’t really remember some of the truly terrifying moments snuck in by the animators.
And they certainly didn’t remember that most Disney films were made for adults, too.
The Headless Horseman
Now, I am not sure when and where I first saw The Icabod portion of the 1949 Disney Classic (we can talk about Mr. Toad some other time). However, I distinctly remember when the tone of the film switched from children’s classic to psychological thiller.
“Ichabod. Ichabod, Ichabod,” said the sounds in the forests. And, the poor schoolmaster was doomed. Unfortunately, as a boy who identified with the charming outcast Ichabod — as opposed to Brom Bones — none of what ensued was comforting. “Headless horseman. Headless Horseman, headless horseman.”
An aside: is there any better gag than the cattails pounding out a clomping beat; Ichabod, laughing a himself, then realizing the real danger behind him? Nope.
What Happened To Ichabod?
Rare for a Disney movie, the ending is somewaht ambivolent. We never learn the real source of the appirition; nor of Ichabod’s actual fate.
The only thing we do know is that the uber jock — the proto Gaston — gets the girl. And that Ichabod was never heard from again.
For a nerdy kid, the only solace is one picture of happy imagination; Ichabod at home, happy with a feast before him.
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
- Coco (2017)
- Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
- Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
- Frankenweenie (2012)
- Hocus Pocus (1993)
- Monsters, Inc. (2001)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Of Ichabod, Rosen wrote:
Less a film than a mini-anthology, the Disney classic actually consists of two segments: The Wind in the Willows (based on the 1908 book by Kenneth Grahame) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (based on the Washington Irving short story). For the former, Walt Disney enlisted Basil Rathbone as a narrator and star; for the latter, it’s Bing Crosby as Ichabod Crane. The result, as the New York Times noted at the time, proved to be a return to form for Disney. “For in this, his latest feature and one in which a supporting cast of ‘live’ players is refreshingly absent, Mr. Disney, abetted by his staff, such perfect narrators as Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone, and a pair of durable literary works, has fashioned a conclave of cartoon creatures, which, by and large, have the winsome qualities and charm of such noted creations as Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, et al.”
Rosen leaves the rest to the viewer, but I can’t remember a more “Halloween” a feeling (short of the “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”) than watching Ichabod wander through the dark woods.
For a 9-year-old, and for his 45-year-old self, it’s the upitome of terror.
“Make for the bridge with all of your might…you can’t reason with a headless man.”
Finally, don’t forget that one slide, with the broken pumpkin on the road. Bright sunshine. Turning leaves (all the more to rake); November 1 upon us, the candy eaten, and nearly two months of school left before Christmas vacation.
True terror, indeed.