he’s guaranteed to put some life in your afterlife

Beetlejuice (1988)

beetlejuice reviewTim Burton, you know who he is

Ah, the early days of Tim Burton. When he was still willing to take on original concepts. When his artistic ideas were still fresh and new – and in their prime. I have many things to say about the guy, many of which are quite negative, however, he used to do great things, and Beetlejuice is the finest example. I am working on a full post regarding Mr. Burton that I am sure will piss off a lot of fine people.

This movie derived a cult following larger than perhaps any other film in history (that was my Trump impression), enticed a million young girls, and ten times as many full-grown women, to dress like little emo Lydia Deetz, and validated the earthly existence of Michael Keaton. Kidding, I love Michael Keeton.

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Everything came together perfectly in Beetlejuice, and while it is rougher around the edges than the painfully clean Edward Scissorhands, there is more character here. This world seems lived in and deranged. The wholesomeness of the Maitlands is juxtaposed against the harsh realities that are death and the rich – a theme that Burton would return to several more times but never so blissfully.

The iconic white and black stripes, claymation, beautiful grotesquery, and offbeat characters are in full effect in Beetlejuice. Michael Keeton truly pulls off a character that could never be played by someone else in our wildest imagination. Sure, make-up helps, but he encapsulates the character. Winona Ryder plays a perfect Lydia due to the fact that she was simply playing herself. Winona Ryder plays Winona Ryder and always has. If the character is a broken, emotional train wreck, then Ryder plays it perfectly. If the character is anything else, she acts worse than a dumpster fire. Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and Glenn Shadix all play their parts with overzealous gusto, which is exactly what the movie calls for.

The story is simple, yet elegant. Editor’s Note: Why do I so often sound like I am describing a cheap wine with a screw off top? Two people die and find that there is a whole process to being dead and bureaucracy lives on into the afterlife. In an attempt to rid their home of pretentious yuppies, the couple enlists the service of Betelgeuse, a ghost that isn’t worth getting in bed with, even for a quick thrill. You all know the story I’m sure. Go watch it again, I promise you will be happy you did – even if you just watched it yesterday.

I suppose that if someone were to put on Beetlejuice for the first time, they may have a closed view of the film. Obviously, the effects seem very dated and the themes truly feel like they are from another time. However, I think that most newcomers will still be able to find the charm that Beetlejuice oozes through its mushy carapace. The kinds of people that wouldn’t like this movie are the kinds of people who don’t like puppets, and those are people that really aren’t worth a damn in my world.


Think I was too kind to the movie or too mean to Winona Ryder? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll tell you that you are probably right. If for some reason you never bought this, click the link below. You can get it for about 7 bucks. Maybe less. I will also include a link to the animated series which I love as well. I don’t know if you remember, but the cartoon had the best action figures ever. I really wish I still had mine.

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