Posted in That 80s film

Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice…Beetlejuice! Say it once, say it twice, third times a charm, except it isn’t quite so charming to greet an obnoxious dead guy who likes to eat all sorts of bugs and  manipulate his way through some sleazy ( but funny) dialogue. A guy no one would want to be friends with.

Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam ( Alec Baldwin) Maitland are the happy couple living the cosy  suburban lifestyle. They are busy on vacation trying to decorate their home, whilst having a snooping neighbour who likes to remind them that their house is just two big for a couple and would be well suited for a family.  ” I don’t think it’s any of Jane’s business”.  I agree Adam. I agree.

On their way home from a little trip to town, they swerve their car from a dog who stands in front of them and the car falls into the river. Moments later we see the couple arrive in their soaking state, to a lit fire in their home, but something doesn’t quite feel like being at home. Their hands can catch on fire and no reflection can be seen in the mirror as they notice a Handbook for the recently Deceased waiting to welcome them instead. ” I don’t think we survived that crash”. 

The couple try to understand the manual but trying to catch up on some ghostly reading can be pretty overwhelming when you’ve just come back from the dead ” maybe this is heaven”, although a frustrated Barbara is quick to think ” if it was Heaven, there wouldn’t be dust on everything”, but they do  understand that they cannot be seen by the living.. (well in most cases).

It’s not long before the house is sold to the owner’s of the Deetz family. Charles who is quickly adjusted to the house, his wife Delia, a sculptor ( which is unfavoured in the monstrous outcomes), Otho, their interior designer, and their daughter Lydia, a strange and unusual girl who likes to dress for the funeral.

As the unwelcomed guests to the Maitland begin to change the wallpapers and furniture around,  the couple try their best to scare them out of the house by tearing off their faces, hanging themselves in the closet and becoming headless, which all fail miserably as it’s no good being invisible to a living person, although to their surprise they find Lydia is able to see them.

As the renovation for the house goes under construction,  so does the minds of the couple who are eager to do their best to get these people out of their home. As they try searching through the handbook for the decreased, they find a pamphlet reading Betelgeuse, an apparent ‘bio – exorcist’ who will ” eat anything you want me to eat! I’ll swallow anything you want me to swallow, so come on down, I’ll chew on a dog!” That’s one way to advertise.

Unaware of his wacky intentions, the couple follow the manual at first by drawing a door and stepping into another dimension to a ghost centre,  where they find themselves among different kinds of dead people who have suffered worse ways to die,  looking quite burnt, shrunken, alien  and just plain skeleton. Even the dead need some guidance on how to lead a good afterlife.

Meeting their cut throat caseworker Juno, the pair realise there is much to learn. ” what about that beetle..” shh don’t even say his name. You don’t want his help”. She explains that “he does not work well with others. He got into trouble and then more trouble as a freelancer, trying to haunt people out of their homes”. 

Taking note of this rumour,  the pair try their hands at disgusing themselves with bed sheets, not forgetting to make eye holes to ironically become ‘a ghost within a ghost.’ But even that proves ineffective as Charles is more concerned about ” your mother will kill you when she sees you cut holes in her $300 sheets.

Approaching Lydia, she takes a photograph of them and is hardly frightened. Instead she  anticipates if they are as gross looking as the night of the living dead movie she has seen too many times. Alas, they are just your friendly neighbourhood ghosts who look as aesthetically pleasing dead as they were alive. The sophisticated dead couple with the personality of Casper.

It would seem about time they took a visit to the pin striped ‘professional’ who has ” seen exorcist 167 times, and it just keeps getting funnier”! Sleazing around a miniature model who wants nothing more than to get out in the real world where he can cause more havoc than he already has.

It was a movie I repeatedly watched around the age of ten. ( someone had recorded it for me on a bulky VCR tape) and one i remember finding both scary but entertaining, as it was a scary but light-hearted film that stood out for this little girl at the time.

Now I realise how terrible the C.G.I really is that Tim Burton lacked to visualise, but where it lacked special effects, it made up for the amazing performance given by Michael Keaton as the eccentric nutcase who caused such comic relief that he became unrecognisable. And the story is nothing short of being boring at any time, which is why i can almost forgive that awful sock like snake monster that was meant to frighten us all.

2017-04-17 13.30.31-1
(Google image) ” come on guys, let’s be pals”!

Betelguese has the  heart and brains of coming across as  crude and wacky and his demeanour impressively shines through as ” I’m the ghost with the most babe ” , and it makes for such a unique watch that Burton achieves in a lot of  his movies. A man well -known for creating  that gothic and fantastical eerie environment, where darkness meets charm. It’s a peculiar movie for those who live a peculiar life.

His taste for  musical score is also very fitting as usual which no surprisingly comes from the genius Danny Elfman, who sets the tone perfectly, as it enchants its way through the story which always makes my mood get uplifted and my heart flutter. It’s almost as if they were married to work together, but I have no complaints  as it always works out.

When you quite don’t get how to effectively scare the bejesus out of someone, be careful meeting the insane dead traveller who’s lived through the black plague and had a pretty good time during that. Not to mention you’re talking to a dead guy! Now do  you think he’s qualified? Let’s turn on the juice and see what shakes loose.

Credits: Movie poster artwork by Dimitri Frudakis

Directed by: Tim Burton

Written by: Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson 

Starring: Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’ Hara, and others

Music by: Danny Elfman

Other honourable mentions from 1988 that I love:

Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Directed by Robert Zemeckis

They Live- Directed by John Carpenter

Big- Directed by Penny Marshall

The Blob- Directed by Chuck Russell

Akira- Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo

Grave of the Fireflies- Directed by Isao Takahata

Heathers – Directed by Michael Lehmann



A Mademoiselle living in the U.K Born in the late 80's with a vintage heart. My blog is made up of my thoughts; be it through the eyes of a great movie, the chapters of a book or in the hands of a game and other ideas that set my mind apart.. here on an open platform to share with the rest of the world. Won't you join me..

19 thoughts on “Beetlejuice (1988)

  1. Great post, yes, the visuals leave much to be desired in this one, but the cast here was just terrific. I still consider it one of Burton’s best and it does not even have Depp in it. Maybe I also love this movie so much because I have always been into black humour, and also like another one produced in 1988 – Heathers, which I don’t see on your list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for liking the post. Yes it’s got terrific performances that didn’t need Depp (for a change heh) and I love the quirkiness of the film itself. Its wacky without being overly crazy and plays strongly on the story at the same time.

      Oh yes,how could I forget that movie! It’s one of my favourites that i will be revisiting. I really liked Winona Ryder in that too. It’s such a great dark humoured movie which is what I love myself.

      It got a little tiring to add and remember all the movie’s so thank you for bringing it to light. I shall be adding it in honour. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This one is a real blast from the past. It has been so long ago that I have last seen this movie, that honestly I can’t remember much about it. Reading through this great review again though, really brought back some good memories. I loved Michael Keaton in this film, he played a seriously wacky, but absolutely amazing character. I do know that there have been rumours for years about a second part for this one, but I don’t think it will ever come to pass. The original film is a true cult classic though, and as always I loved reading your review! 😊 Keep up making these fantastic posts 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bought it on dvd many years ago and i had forgotten how humorous Keaton was in the movie and rather crude in a delightful manner.

      Oh yes it’s apparently in production but I’m also unsure about how good it can be following such a classic movie such as this one. It had the ‘right’ kind of people and the quirkiness works but maybe as a one hit wonder type of movie. But we shall see of course.

      Thank you so much as always for your kind means a lot that you take the time to read them. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of Tim Burton’s best! Beetlejuice really showed off his trademark oddities, which we love him for. And Winona Ryder is so lovely in this. May they never ruin it with a sequel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He certainly wins the title for being the ‘ghost with the most’. He’s probably still shaking a few senoras still. Well what remains in his banana boat ahem. I nerver quite heard the songs in the same way after that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You do make me laugh Christopher..come to think of it, yes I can’t imagine any sincerity or sophistication for that matter..and to think the poor woman didn’t even get a penny for her worth. Shameful indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

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