My Life In Horror 1988 – Beetlejuice


Once again the good people of Twitter voted to pick the films from 1988 that I should watch and review. The winners were Beetlejuice and Pumpkinhead both pretty different but both reasonably good if I remember rightly about Pumpkinhead anyway. I’ll try not to be bias when doing this review/look back but I should inform you that I am wearing a Beetlejuice t-shirt as I write this up.


Director – Tim Burton

Writers – Michael McDowell, Larry Wilson and Warren Skaaren.

Stars – Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Wynona Ryder.

Budget – $15 million

Run Time – 92 minutes

Tagline – Say it once… Say it twice… But we dare you to say it THREE TIMES link


A few bits of trivia about this one, I could have included a lot more!

Trivia – Michael Keaton ad-libbed many of his lines.

Trivia – According to Michael Keaton, the Beetlejuice character was described to him by director Tim Burton as “having lived in every time period but no time period.” Keaton used this as the jumping-off point to create the character with such features as a shock hairdo, mold makeup, and large teeth. He said that when he first showed up to the set as Beetlejuice the crew was chanting, “Juice, Juice, Juice.” This got Keaton excited for his role.

Trivia – The original script was a horror film, and featured Beetlejuice as a winged, reptilian demon who transformed into a small Middle Eastern man to interact with the Maitlands and the Deetzes. Lydia was a minor character, with her six year old sister Cathy being the Deetz child able to see the Maitlands. Beetlejuice’s goal was to kill the Deetzs, rather than frighten them away, and included sequences where he mauled Cathy in the form of a rabid squirrel and tried to rape Lydia. Subsequent script rewrites turned the film into a comedy and toned down Beetlejuice’s character into the ghost of a wise cracking con-artist rather than a demon.


Beetlejuice is a film that I grew up watching, it’s not scary but it is a whole load of fun. I’ll give a quick run down of the story but I’m sure most of you will have seen this film more than once and know it already. The Maitlands played by Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin move into their dream home but tragedy strikes and they are both killed.

The couple do not realise they are dead to start with but wonder how they’ve returned to their home so quickly. Adam takes a look outside and is flung into a desert with massive worm beasts and quickly goes back into the house. The couple find a handbook for instructions to be used when you’ve died leading to some amusing scenes.


Eventually the house is sold again and in moves a New York family. The mother wants to change everything about the house along with her idiot decorator Otho. The daughter however can somehow see the Maitlands and the Dad well he’s not bothered as long as he gets one unchanged room to himself.


The Maitlands decide to try and scare the new family out of the home with a haunting however it fails massively but does include one of the best scenes in movie history “The Banana Boat” scene. This has the opposite effect the Dad of the new family Charles sense a business opportunity. The Maitlands are in trouble!


Enter Beetlejuice the man who’s an expert at haunting the living and provides all the comedy for the film, in my opinion he’s one of the best characters of all time. With the Maitlands trapped Lydia (the daughter of the new family) agrees to marry Beetlejuice if he can save them. He goes all out in a proper haunting but holds Lydia to her word, leading to a final battle to stop Beetlejuice from marrying Lydia.


The Good

  • The Banana Boat song scene is a work of art.
  • The casting is all spot on, sure Michael Keaton gets most of the praise which he deserves but Winona Ryder, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones are all perfect for their roles.
  • The character of Beetlejuice is one that is always remembered and always stood out in the world of film. He’s a popular costume for Halloween and is one of the most well known characters ever. As I mentioned Keaton played the part to perfection but everything about the character is perfect in this film.
  • The scene in the waiting room is fantastic.
  • The creepy other worldly atmosphere in some scenes is unique.


The Bad

  • It’s really hard to pick something that’s not good about this movie, I suppose you could argue that Beetlejuice deserved a bit more screen time but maybe that’d lessen his impact?

Overall this is one of my favourite films from my youth, it’s so unique and I don’t think anything has ever or will ever match the style that the film pulled off. Great acting, nicely paced if you haven’t seen this then where the hell have you been since 1988?

Overall Rating – 9/10


5 thoughts on “My Life In Horror 1988 – Beetlejuice

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