Beetlejuice continues to impress audiences


Used with permission Warner Bros.

Sarah Clemens, Website Content Manager

Beetlejuice is a Halloween film released in 1988, but has become a cult classic over the decades. 

The film opens with couple Barbara and Adam Maitland getting into a car accident. Upon returning home, they realize they did not survive the crash and are now ghosts. While they are trapped in the house, the Deetz family moves in who are mostly unaware of the Maitland’s presence. 

The Maitland’s continuously try to scare the Deetzes away from their property and encounter the devilish spirit Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice) along the way. 

The frighteningly grim yet quirky and fun style of Tim Burton shines throughout the film and embodies the character of Betelgeuse in the most fun way.

One of the highlights of the film was the engaging score. The music was devilishly delightful whenever Betelgeuse was on screen and became sinister during important plot points. The composer, Danny Elfman, is also famous for music in other Burton movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Due to when the film was released, the film used practical effects including stop motion, puppetry, and makeup. With so many movies today overusing CGI, it’s nice to see practical effects that are actually there and the actors can interact with to make it more realistic.

Some of the best practical effects used are when Betelguese is using his macabre powers to scare the Deetzes and the Maitlands.

The effects are also great for portraying the classic Tim Burton aesthetic. The world of the dead is colorful and strange compared to the dark and normal world of the living. The audience is constantly engaged in the stunning prosthetic makeup of the dead. 

In terms of characters, they are all enjoyable to watch. The Maitland couple can be frustrating to watch at points with their stupidity though. They neglect to read their Handbook for the Recently Deceased for several months while Lydia is able to read it within a day, but they are likeable characters otherwise. 

The Deetz family is also fun to watch with the father, mother, and daughter all being polar opposites. 

The most enjoyable aspect of the film though is the performance of Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz. Lydia is able to communicate with the dead Maitland couple and steals the show whenever she is on screen. Her overdramatic, emo character is fantastic and is able to bring life to slower portions. 

For those looking for more of a horror film, they would find that Beetlejuice, although morbid, is more comedic and lighthearted at times. At one point in the film, the Maitland’s idea of a paranormal scare is to force the Deetzes and their dinner guest to sing the Banana Boat song. 

The most disturbing part of the film though, is the titular Betelguese. Betelguese is a troublemaker who causes harm just for the fun of it, but finds a new target in Lydia who is implied to be in her early teens. Betelguese decides he must have her as his wife, this is definitely the most morbid part of the film upon inspection. 

Due to his sinister motives though, the two families deliver his comeuppance in a thrilling climax with Barbara riding a sandworm through the house and eating him. With the action of the wedding and the Maitland’s fighting Betelgeuse, the climax is by far the most compelling scene.

With so many great aspects in the film, anyone would be remiss to leave this film out of their Halloween movie marathon.