Daily Horror Naughty Johns

Beetlejuice

October 16, 2015

“He’s guaranteed to put some life, in your afterlife.” ~Beetlejuice (1988)

This is the 16th of 31 posts in a row on horror movies. Yup, it’s October, baby.

IMDB Summary: A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a “bio-exorcist” in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 81%

Why I love it: It’s got charm. Silly, funny, insipid charm.

OK, I admit it. I got behind, and I had a day to fill, and I waited until the last minute. And Beetlejuice was on. So voilà.

Let’s talk about the fact that Beetlejuice 2 has been written, 27 years after the first one. (Read Beetlejuice 2 is Really Happening, Says Winona Ryder on variety.com.) Someone on the IMDB comment boards said it should be called Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. Dude. YES. Please do it, Tim Burton, cuz if you do it’ll be the greatest sequel name ever.

Adam and Barbara Maitland live high on a hill in a house that looks like a mini paper version of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. They die in a bridge accident thanks to stupid Barbara not paying attention, which they don’t even realize until they find “The Handbook For The Recently Deceased” sitting there in their house. They learn an “unpleasant and pretentious family” from New York has purchased the house with plans to renovate it. From washingtonpost.com (because they describe the perceived intruders perfectly): husband Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones); his obnoxious artist-wife Delia (a delightfully snippy Catherine O’Hara); her nasal, mauve-mongering Soho decorator Otho (Glenn Shadix) and funereal daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder), who declares: “My whole life is a dark room. One. Big. Dark. Room.”

Among other newly-deads, Adam and Barbara (he in his plaid shirt and khakis and she in her Laura Ashley dress) seek from their equally dead smoking case worker who tells them to scare the people away themselves. In spite of a series of creative attempts, it doesn’t work. So they call on “Betelgeuse,” a used car salesman-type of cowboy and expert for people having a hard time in the afterlife. He’s crude. He’s seen The Exorcist 167 times. He could have been played by Sammy Davis Jr. (Seriously, that’s who Tim Burton wanted.) He’s out of his mind, in a good way. He’s fucking Beetlejuice, and he’s awesome. Damn, they must have had fun making this movie.

Lydia makes friends with Adam and Barbara. The family has a dinner party where everyone, including Dick Cavett, bust out the Banana Boat Song. It’s now stuck in your head forever. Lydia wants to kill herself; she’s sooo goth. And then… well, I’ll be honest: I fell asleep. After an hour, I usually get a little sick of the Tim Burton thing. I’ve probably seen the first half of this movie 30 times. All I know is Lydia, Adam and Barbara end up being a happy little family. And I think that stupid song comes on at the end. Sorry, but Edward Scissorhands is better.

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