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Beetlejuice (1988)

A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a “bio-exorcist” in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.


Ahh, 1988, that glorious time when Tim Burton still made movies without Mr. Depp.
‘Beetlejuice’ is in most ways still a vintage Tim Burton movie (which one of his movies isn’t?) and comes with his usual style of absurd and somewhat gothic based sets.
It’s a movie that does seem to hold up quite well over the years, and with the recent blu-ray release that came out, I revisited it again.

The couple of recently deceased ghosts mentioned in the brief synopsis are played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. Both do a good job in their relatively simple roles, but both of them don’t stand a chance against Michael Keaton in one of his best turns as an actor. His character, Beetlejuice, is the definite star of the movie. A self labeled ‘bio-exorcist’, this underworldly scam artist manages to give you a quality time.

Tim Burton, who was at the helm of only his second movie (after Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) really gave it his all in terms of style. If there’s a book on making a movie your own, this is a prime example.
The aforementioned sets are great, whether it’s the attic where the ghosts reside after finding out they died or the great practical effects that literally flood this movie, it warrants a viewing solely based on those two achievements.

When it comes to the digital effects that are shown, the movie does show it’s age. Especially on blu-ray it’s painfully obvious where the computer did the effects, and even though it never fully takes you out of the experience it’s still a (minor) distraction.

The story itself isn’t worth dissecting in this review, because it’s the most fun when experiencing it first hand.
However, what should be mentioned, is the fact that the story is definitely trying to go in a lot of directions with the rather basic plot that it’s got.
You see, Beetlejuice isn’t a particularly layered character, but he does come with his own set of instructions.
And when the people responsible for calling him up try to get rid of him, the movie really shows it’s strength.
Moving from lighthearted comedy into a more darker area, Tim Burton manages to get the most out of his story and cast.

That cast also includes a famous face for people who love ‘Home Alone’ as Catherine O’Hara (the mom who leaves Kevin back home) plays the new resident which the ghosts want out of their house.
Her larger than life persona (including her gay interior designer and lackluster husband) really makes you root for the ghosts trying to flush her out. Her daughter (played by a young Winona Ryder) is the only one who does seem to have character, and coincidently happens to be the only one who can see the ghosts as well.
Together with the aforementioned Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Keaton and Miss Davis, the cast is more than sufficient.

To top it all off, there have been rumors of a sequel ever since this came out.
And with Tim Burton recently saying it’s found some renewed interest amongst writers, we could very well see a sequel being developed within the next couple of years.
Talking of sequels, Beetlejuice also received a cartoon makeover for a short lived run on Cartoon Network back in 1991.

What it shows us, is that the story, even though it deals with death, despair and ghosts, is suitable for more younger children.
So if you plan on seeing a fun movie with one of your kids, take this into consideration. I’d say it’s suitable for everybody aged 12 and upwards.

So there you have it, my take on Beetlejuice.
Feel free to let me know what you thought of this movie when you saw it, or if you plan to revisit it!

7.5/10 stars!



One thought on “Beetlejuice (1988)

  1. My favorite Burton / Keaton film behind Batman. Great write up, bro. You gave it much love.

    Posted by Victor De Leon | July 9, 2012, 21:59

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