1. Updated Source Material
In Washington Irving’s original story, Ichabod Crane is a superstitious teacher who is vying for the love of 18-year-old (eek) Katrina Van Tassel. He’s attacked by the Headless Horseman, a ghost of a Hessian soldier from the Revolutionary War, on his way home from a party, never to be seen again. In Sleepy Hollow, Katrina is a badass and more age-appropriate witch, the Headless Horseman (possibly along with many of the Redcoats?) is actually working for a demon looking to bring about the apocalypse, and Ichabod is a babe who woke from the dead in the year 2013 to work for Orlando Jones and save the world.
Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula is a London nobleman (noblevampire) who imprisons estate lawyer Jonathan Harker in his Transylvanian castle, stalks Harker’s fiancée Mina Murray, is hunted by Professor Van Helsing and ultimately killed by Harker and his crew. In the update, Dracula is a vampire of science, wowing British society with electricity and trying to take down the Illuminati-esque Order of the Dragon while doing so. He’s still keeping Harker (now a journalist) close for as long as he needs him, and he’s still stalking Mina (though now because she looks like his late wife), but it’s mostly about all that Illuminati revenge stuff. Oh, and Dracula is working with Van Helsing and sleeping with a vampire hunter.
Point: Dracula. Intrigue! Cults! Misplaced alliances! Steampunk!
2. Undead Dreamboats
We’ve got Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane who is just taking foreverrrrr to understand the basics of modern technology, and the result is that he is in a permanent state of endearing, beautiful bafflement. He talks about destiny a lot (swoon), has no interest in changing his Revolutionary War garb or washing his hair, and it is all very A+ fantastic. He’s like a little lamb who needs to be protected in this crazy world of text messages, power windows, and bottled water.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is at an advantage as Dracula right off the bat because vampires are indisputably the sexiest of all monsters. (Hi Dracula! Hi hi hiiiiiiiieeeeeee.) He’s got those vaguely symbolic tattoos, and he’s brooding, and he’s dangerous, but also sensitive? He goes back and forth between a British accent and an American drawl, and then, of course, dem abs. It’s entirely too much.
Point: Sleepy Hollow. Impressive musculature aside, you know Dracula would be super emo all the time.
3. Tough Ladies
Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is Sleepy Hollow’s resident badass. She’s appropriately skeptical of Ichabod’s story, but also brave enough to stand by him once she realizes he’s legit. She’s kicking ass all day every day, and it’s pretty clear that Sleepy Hollow would be deep into the end of days if she’d left her position like she was originally supposed to do. Watching her is just this back and forth internal battle between wanting to be her and wanting to be best friends with her.
Vampire slayer Lady Jayne Wetherby (Victoria Smurfit) is relegated to a minor role in Dracula, but she fills her limited screen time with plenty of GETTIN’ BUSINESS DONE. She’s dusting vampires left and right, but her association with the Order of the Dragon is questionable. Plus, she’s being conned by Dracula himself, so how great of a slayer is she really?
Point: Sleepy Hollow. As if there was even a question.
4. Timeless Romance
Katrina Crane (Katia Winter) is Ichabod’s witch wife, who cast a spell binding Ichabod to the Headless Horseman. In her heyday she warded off the Horseman/Death/the apocalypse with her coven, but these days she’s trapped in a purgatorial forest and helping out where she can in dream visions. Basically we have to take Ichabod on his word that she’s as great as he says he is.
Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw) is the closest thing Dracula has to a leading lady, the object of Dracula’s obsession and possible reincarnation of his late, murdered wife. She’s headstrong and determined, successfully pursuing a career in medicine despite the fact that her dummy boyfriend Harker expects her to “relegate herself to more natural, womanly pursuits.” Unfortunately for her, she has since turned that dummy boyfriend into her dummy fiancé.
Point: Dracula. Nothing against Katrina, it’s just that she’s standing in the way of Ichabbie happening.
5. Ominous Secret Societies
Ichabod defends the Freemasons, of which he is a member, but Abbie rightfully has a problem with their boys-only club. They aren’t villains, but they aren’t great either, since they (almost succesfully!) tried to convince our beloved Ichs to sacrifice himself.
The Order Of The Dragon, on the other hand, is everything I want out of my underground cults: conspiratorial, definitely evil, and filled with dark, heavy robes. Plus, without them, Dracula would still be mortal and boring.
Point: Dracula. Villains done right.
6. Fight Scene Special Effects
The monsters of Sleepy Hollow are legitimately scary, the Horseman possibly the least of all. The Sandman? With all of the sand falling from his eye sockets? Are you kidding me? Nightmares for days. And because the characters are so eccentric, the fight scenes can be (delightfully) campy, but still without sacrificing the gravity of the stakes, i.e., all of mankind’s salvation.
Where Sleepy Hollow is creepy, Dracula is gory, and the sense is that the latter takes itself Very Seriously. There’s a lot of slow motion flying through the air, perfectly choreographed swordplay, and aerial acrobatics. It’s dramatic and pretty beautiful, if you can get past all the blood. And there is a lot of blood.
Point: Sleepy Hollow. More varied villains mean more exciting fights, and the coloring on Dracula is so damn dark.