Movie Night: Beetlejuice

Year: 1988

Director: Tim Burton

Production Company: Geffen Company

Leads: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetle—

No! Ahh!

What is there to say about this immensely enjoyable Tim Burton classic that hasn’t already been done to death? Heh heh. This tale of a very-much-in-love couple who plunge to their demise off a New England covered bridge, only to be resurrected as hosts in their own house, is such a staple of the Tim Burton canon that its only surprise is not featuring Johnny Depp. At least there’s the magnificent Danny Elfman score, setting the stage for many a musical-of-the-dead to come.

It wasn't the smoking that killed me …

It wasn’t the smoking that killed me …

This was, of course, the first time Little Satis had seen Beetlejuice, and I think that some of the humor escaped him slightly. After all, the whole movie concept is a just a touch on the dark side, and much of it relies on understanding the many ways there are to die. I actually found myself holding myself in check at points and deliberately not pointing things out – such as Sylvia Sidney‘s breathing smoke from her slit throat – just to avoid disturbing a ten-year-old. I’ll admit – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film myself, and I forgot a few parts.

One part I most definitely did not forget, however, is Winona Ryder‘s ultra-goth Lydia Deetz, which, along with her portrayal of Mina Murray in Dracula a few years later, firmly cemented my lifelong crush for her. The funny thing is that, looking back on it, she really wasn’t all that miserable; apart from an obsession with all things weird and strange, it wasn’t until she met the deceased Maitlands that she uttered that favorite phrase of goth kids everyhere: “I wish I were dead.” And at the end—what’s with the dancing?

Ah, Winona …

Ah, Winona …

Still, there’s enough inexplicable shenanigans in the movie to let that one slide, and this is perhaps the film’s only fault: not everything makes 100% sense. Of course, it could be argued that’s part of its charm, and I wouldn’t disagree – but why on earth do dead people end up on an outer space sand planet when they leave their house? Why did they end up confined to their house in the first place? And why, oh why, couldn’t Beetlejuice tell Lydia his own name? He freaking broadcasts it on dead-TV! And why did he need to marry Lydia? Hm … Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride … it seems Tim Burton has himself a little obsession with marrying the dead, no?

Anyway, Beetlejuice is an ineffably enjoyable movie (I’m not sure that even makes sense), and if you haven’t seen it, you don’t deserve to be alive!


★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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