Before Birdman or even Batman, Michael Keaton was an evil bio-exorcist named Beetlejuice. This is, as far as I know, the first Tim Burton-Michael Keaton collaboration before they both went on to produce the two greatest Batman films ever made (Batman and Batman Returns). Although he’s the titular character in this spooky comedy, he never actually appears until the last half of the film. For a movie about dead people, ghosts, and the afterlife, Beetlejuice was incredibly funny that it had me dying (no pun intended) in the end.
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The Movie Review
Adam and Barbara are an ordinary couple… except they’re dead. After dying from a car accident, they find themselves haunting their New England home. When their house is purchased by an insufferable New York family named the Deetz, the ghost couple is set on kicking them out. However, their poltergeist skills aren’t that great and fail to scare away the family, not even their Gothic daughter Lydia. Out of hope, they have no choice but to summon the afterlife’s leading bio-exorcist Beetlejuice, or Beatle Geese? Betelgeuse?
Leave it all to Tim Burton to craft a movie about death without scaring children away. Beetlejuice was one of Burton’s first feature films, having been released three years after Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Compared to his first feature film, Beetlejuice is so over-the-top it puts the other to shame.
Tim Burton was the ideal director for this project since it provided him with a wide selection of strange and grotesque objects to work with, as well as strange clay and crazy architecture. The screenplay is also co-written by Larry Wilson, who went on to write The Addams Family in 1991, as well as horror novelist Michael McDowell, so expect this movie to have a great deal of macabre and dark comedy.
What sticks out the most in Beetlejuice is their comical approach to dark things, there’s even a part where Lydia tries to commit suicide and the tone still manages to stay light. The funniest scene, however, is when they made hell a waiting room in which your ticket number is way down the line. Betelgeuse (how his actual name is spelled) is both terrifying and hilarious in this, thanks to Keaton’s unhinged performance. On top of that, we have Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin as the Maitlands, and the gorgeous Winona Ryder in one of her most iconic roles.
Now pair that with legend Bo Welch’s Dali-esque production design, the unforgettable visuals and costumes, all come together perfectly. Even the makeup is done well that the artists behind them won an Oscar for Best Makeup, however, looking back now it looks a tad bit old. And how can we forget Danny Elfman’s score, in his second collaboration with the director, which feels like a master mix of all his greatest hits?
So despite it being a 1988 movie, many of its elements are so unique and stylish that it still feels timeless. You don’t need a movie to look realistic and high quality for it to be enjoyable, and that’s the one thing I learned rewatching this film.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Beetlejuice just never gets old. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you should go do it now. It’s packed with a lot of humor, some corny moments, but it’s carried by amazing performances and eye-catching visuals.
The sets, cinematography, special effects, and creatures are all classic Burtonesque creations that goths and Burton fans will be drooling over. Although this isn’t his best work, I still find myself rewatching this because of how random it is. Beetlejuice doesn’t make much sense, and that’s the best part about it.