Release date: March 30, 1988
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton
Budget: $15 million
Box office: $73.7 million
Recently deceased young couple Barbara and Adam Maitland become ghosts, haunting their former home and attempting to scare away the new residents.
An incredibly weird film befitting Burton’s style, Beetlejuice is decent and enjoyable in its treatment of death as a mind-numbing and boring bureaucracy filled with red tape and confusing instructions. The film also portrays living as something that is much preferred over death, depicting many characters either speaking fondly of their former lives or unsure as to why one of the living characters would rather be dead. It is notable in how, despite those who have passed on being able to perform some unique feats, said deceased characters would take even the difficulties of life over their current situations. The way these dead characters interact with those who are still alive makes for a unique
The Maitlands are fascinating characters, too, as the eyes through which the audience sees everything transpire. The viewer is able to understand the confusion and frustration the two of them feel when the bureaucracy presents little to no help in their struggles to rid their old home of its new inhabitants. Further, when the two of them decide to enlist the help of Betelgeuse as a human exorcist, it comes off as a desperate attempt after nothing else has worked as opposed to a foolish decision thanks to what the film has shown them going through. This helps their reactions at what occurs once they do seem believable as well.
Furthermore, Betelgeuse is an interesting character despite only showing up halfway through the film following a couple teases in the beginning. He ends up being the most memorable character thanks to his actions combined with Keaton’s performance. He’s obnoxious and rude with almost every character he comes across yet he displays some intriguing dependability, doing exactly what he promises to do upon release. His captivating character is bolstered by the energy exhibited by Keaton who treats the role like Betelgeuse is a charismatic and loathsome car salesman who refuses to take no for an answer and find any way he can to make the sale.
This is a dark though humorous and entertaining film, worth watching at least once.
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards
Best Horror Film
Best Supporting Actress (Sylvia Sidney)
BMI Film & TV Awards
BMI Film Music Award
National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
Best Actor (Michael Keaton)
Young Artist Awards
Best Family Animation or Fantasy Motion Picture
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards
Best Supporting Actor (Michael Keaton)
Best Special Effects
BAFTA Film Awards
Best Make Up Artist
Best Special Effects
Best Dramatic Presentation
Kids’ Choice Awards, USA - Blimp Awards
Best Classic DVD (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)