Horrortober: Beetlejuice (1988)


Micheal Keaton rules as Beetlejuice
  • Micheal Keaton rules as Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice is not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it almost was, according to IMB: 
The original script was a horror film, and featured Beetlejuice as a winged, reptilian demon who transformed into a small Middle Eastern man to interact with the Maitlands and the Deetzes. Lydia was a minor character, with her six year old sister Cathy being the Deetz child able to see the Maitlands. Beetlejuice's goal was to kill the Deetzs, rather than frighten them away, and included sequences where he mauled Cathy in the form of a rabid squirrel and tried to rape Lydia. Subsequent script rewrites turned the film into a comedy and toned down Beetlejuice's character into the ghost of a wise cracking con-artist rather than a demon.
Perhaps a route to pursue for the sequel

And while Beetlejuice is most certainly a comedy, and arguably director Tim Burton's best film, it is filled with plenty of true-life scares: goth teen poetry, modern furniture, bad art, spackled paint, polyester suits, small closets, living in Connecticut, etc.

The plot: the Barbara and Adam Maitland live an ideal life out in a quaint country home and then they die. The Deetzes, straight from New York, move in and disturb the peace, so the Maitlands call a bioexorcist, Beetlejuice, to spook the family out. 

Beetlejuice is a lesson in economy; every second bounces along for its compact 90 minutes with many great moments, such as the Netherworld waiting room scene and Calypso-spiked dinner party.  

Winona Ryder, with to-die-for bangs, as Lydia
  • Winona Ryder, with to-die-for bangs, as Lydia

The cast is sharp as well: young Winona Ryder (with to-die-for spiky bangs) as Lydia Deetz and Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O'Hara as her clueless and pretentious parents; Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin as the Maitlands (Baldwin at his most personable and harmless); plus Dick Cavett and Robert Goulet! But the film belongs to Michael Keaton as the title character, a centuries-spanning creep who put the ouch in louche. 

If you haven't seen Beetlejuice, stop what you're doing and watch it now. It's that good. And, if you're wondering what a comedy is doing in a series about horror films, get into the spirit of the season. We have Beetlejuice, after all, for all those great Halloween costume ideas. 

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