Stuff I Watch in October: Beetlejuice (1988)


Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Beetlejuice (1988)


DIRECTOR: Tim Burton who, from about 1986 to 1996, could do no wrong.

WHAT IS IT?: There are movies which exist that, when the mere mention of their name is made, you can’t help but smile and, perhaps, chuckle.

1988’s “Beetlejuice” is one of those movies.

THE PLOT: Directed by Tim Burton (who was fresh off “Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure”), the film follows a young couple by the name of Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin & Geena Davis, respectively) who spend all their time fixing up a beautiful Victorian-style mansion in New England, where they reside. Unfortunately, on the way back to their house from a hardware store, the old covered bridge they drove over to get there gives way and sends them into the river below.

When they re-enter their house, they believe they’ve survived the ordeal — only to find out that they actually died and are seemingly attached to the house they live in. A few months later, a yuppie couple and their Goth/Emo daughter move into the place. While the father wants to keep the house the way it is (he’s tired of the city), his wife wants to make it into an Art Deco nightmare, much to Adam and Barbara’s disgust. Getting on their last nerve, the Maitlands attempt to resort to haunting the family — only to find that they can’t be seen by the couple. Only their daughter can see them and she immediately takes a liking to them.

Just when the Maitlands think they can live with this, a demon named “Beetlejuice” enters the Maitlands lives, promising to help drive the yuppies out for good — but for a price.


WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The reviews for “Beetlejuice” were positive, with critics calling it highly original — though they wished that Michael Keaton had more screentime in the film. Roger Ebert thought he was watching two different films and said that one world existed when Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin were on screen, and the other, when Keaton was on screen.

WHAT DID I THINK?: This is one of the most joyous, laugh-out-loud dark comedies I have EVER seen with so many great moments (the “Day-O” dinner calypso possession sequence is an absolute RIOT) and Michael Keaton steals the show each time he’s on screen (a whole 17 minutes which is odd for a film named after his character) as “Beetlejuice”.

The film is endlessly clever with outstanding production design (the sandworm world and the Afterlife Office are knockouts and the creature and ghost effects are top-notch) and a sharp script which not only has fun pondering over what happens after we die, but also has a great deal of fun with it.

This movie IS dark — but there’s so much laughter to be had that it almost makes you unafraid of what’s out there beyond this life.


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