Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Beetlejuice (1988)

"You know what they say about people who commit suicide- in the afterlife, they become civil servants!"

Heaven forbid. What an awful fate.

I can't believe I've never seen this strange yet brilliant film before, a Tim Burton film from before he had quite settled on a particular style. It's delightfully quirky, and has the best stop motion effects I've ever seen in a film not involving Ray Harryhausen. Who needs CGI? Not the young Tim Burton.

It's also arresting to see Michael Keaton being brilliant in a comic role, and a very young Winona Ryder showing that she was the Dakota Fanning of her day. Best of all is the premise; a silly look at the haunted house genre from the perspective of those doing the haunting.

The whole things screams "late '80s", from the weird landscapes outside the house that look just like a contemporary music video to the fact that Lydia is an actual Goth who listens to Bauhaus rather than Evanescence. Along with the opera, that is.

There are some nice touches (I noticed the nod to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) to both the premise and the design, but probably the best thing is the bureaucracy after death. I'd better get used to it- I'm already a civil servant...

But the one thing I'll remember above all is the stop motion. It's glorious, and cartoonish, and, well, ripped off somewhat by Drop Dead Fred three years later. This movie rules!


  1. Loved this since i was 6 years old when i lived in St Louis and saw it 3 times at the movies, it became one of my faves. I even had some of the toys and watched/taped the animated show as a kid.

  2. I can't believe I saw it for the first time aged 37!