Beetlejuice (1988) - Tim Burton


Horror Comedy classic from the demented mind of Tim Burton!

Director: Tim Burton

Producers: Larry Wilson, Michael Bender and Richard Hashimoto

Writers: Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren

Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton

Music: Danny Elfman

Studio: The Geffen Film Company and Warner Bros.

Release Date: March 30th, 1988

Country: USA

Budget: US $15 million

Box Office: US $73.7 million


Beetlejuice is a comedy horror film from writer-director Tim Burton. Starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara, Alec Baldwin, and Geena Davis. It was produced by The Geffen Film Company and distributed by Warner Brothers on March 30th, 1988 to tremendous reviews. This is a quintessential movie from the eighties and arguably the beginning of Tim Burton’s peak. A true effort of passion that left me terrified as a child.

The Deetz’s have recently moved into a large home in a small town. A house whose previous tenants, The Maitlands, had recently died tragically in a car accident and are currently haunting the domicile. When it becomes clear that the Deetz's intend to gut and remodel the Maitland family home, the ghost tenants decide to turn up the heat and haunt this invader family out! The only problem is that the Maitlands are recently deceased and terrible at haunting. Enter Beetlejuice. A troublemaking demon that resembles a shady used car salesman whose only interest is marrying the Deetz’s daughter Lydia and freeing himself from death. Can the Maitlands get rid of the Deetz’s on their own, or will Beetlejuice be unleashed?

Beetlejuice is a terrifying movie. I remember watching this as a child and being horrified by some of the imagery. The seance scene is one that stands out in my mind. I remember specifically having nightmares about Adam and Barbara Maitland appearing in their wedding clothes, then shriveling up like prunes and falling apart. It was sad and scary. But, I’ve always appreciated this movie. It’s smart, funny and original. Three things that seem to be missing from most modern horror comedies.

The effects are top-notch. All practical with extensive use of puppetry and stop-motion animation. This isn’t a horror movie with many horrific deaths. Although, we are treated to small bits of blood and gore. We are mostly shown cartoonish visions of expertly executed horrific fantasy that reeks with that signature Tim Burton’s style. I was a big fan of the sequences with the sandworms. The claymation might be cartoonish, but it fits with the style of the movie and looks really cool.

This movie is really well cast. Winona Ryder was the poster child for every emo child. Her gothic look and presence paired with Burton’s vision so well. Catherine O’Hara is sidesplitting. She does such a good job of playing the manic mother. Or Step Mother in this case. Michael Keaton turns in his best performance until Birdman. Beetlejuice is a disgustingly creepy character that delivers some of the best comedy in horror. His dirty one-liners and foul attitude aren't enough to make you hate him. He’s almost like an anti-hero of sorts, but he’s actually a villain… It’s weird.

This is an amazing film. Great work from beginning to end. Everything from Danny Elfman’s iconic score to Delia Deetz’ terrible artwork is perfect. This is a movie that could never, and hopefully, will never be remade. I can’t see any reason to do it. It’s 2018 and they are re-releasing this in the theaters for the thirtieth anniversary. It looks fantastic. The film had been remastered for 4k resolution and is only showing in select theaters. I suggest picking up the Bluray release, there is a steelbook, but it looks like it was released in Europe.