Sunday, 24 June 2012


"Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice"

A young couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are driving back from town one day when they crash their car and die. It takes them a while to realise though as they end up back in their house but with a new family, father (Jeffrey Jones), Step-mum (Catherine O’Hara) and Goth Daughter (Winona Ryder) moving in. As they become aware of their death they try to haunt the family in order to get them to leave but despite turning to the ‘Handbook for the Recently Deceased’ for help, they are unable to be seen. Instead they turn to a bio-exorcist called Betelgeuse, a crazed, perverted and unstable dead man who agrees to help scare the family off.

Unbelievably I’d never seen this film before having confused it in my head with Candyman, a film I saw aged about seven which caused nightmares for months. I’m so glad I’ve finally watched this bizarre comedy/horror. The film contains everything that the best Tim Burton films do; odd characters and locations, unusual and distinctive sets and darkly comic plotlines.

Michael Keaton is almost unrecognisable as Betelgeuse, to such an extent that my girlfriend who has seen the film before asked me who played the title character. He delivers an extraordinarily weird and wonderful performance, quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Winona Ryder is also great as the Goth teenager Lydia. She seems much more mature than she was at the time. Catherine O’Hara is good in a quirky and unusual way. Other cast members tend to blend into the background behind the more wacky characters and bold set design.

Something I liked about the film is how Burton manages to incorporate different types of effects. I’m a big fan of stop motion, especially in the vane of Jason and the Argonauts and the original Clash of the Titans which were completed by the great stop motion creator Ray Harryhausen. Burton uses effects very similar to those made famous by Harryhausen and indeed considers Mars Attacks! to be a tribute to the great pioneer. Other effects used are some great puppetry, blue screen and prosthetics, all of which looks fantastic but purposely cheap.

I think that the film is incredibly funny in places and can be quite subtle at times. I was quite tired while watching and I’d like to see it again because I’m afraid I might have missed some of the subtler jokes. I think my favourite scene was the dancing around the table scene but there aren’t many bad scenes anywhere. In my opinion it trails off slightly towards the end as the various strands get tied together but I’d already had so much fun that this didn’t bother me too much. The film is only 92 minutes long so things move at quite a fast pace anyway.

Beetlejuice is a quirky and funny film and the sort of thing I wish Tim Burton was making today. Its fantastic looking and unlike anything you see today. Michael Keeton gives a career performance and this is a character I’d like to see him return to.         



  1. They've been hinting (threatening?) at a sequel for ages and it pops up again once in a while. I'm just glad they never made the sequel when it was rumored to be "Beetlejuice goes Hawaiian". Absolutely a fun movie and one I really need to re-watch again soon.

    1. I read that. I kind of want to see Keaton return to the role but at the same time its been what, 24 or so years now so maybe it's best left as it is. I read that as of Jan 2012 there are discussions about a script for a sequel and Keaton is interested.

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  3. Loved this film growing up. Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are great as the newly deceased and every scene in the afterlife waiting room is gold.

    I think Burton was at his best when art design meant trying to meld his macabre visions into the real world. Now that he can do anything he can imagine in CGI? Very uninteresting.

    Glad to see you on the LAMB! Welcome aboard!

    1. Thanks. Glad to be a part of the LAMB at last.

      I think you're right re Burton and CGI. It's almost as if it's too easy for him to do whatever he wants now, whereas in the past he really had to work to make his visions come to life so they meant something more.

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