Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder
Director: Tim Burton
“The spirits of a deceased couple are harassed by an unbearable family that has moved into their home, and hire a malicious spirit to drive them out.” (IMDb)
What to Expect
I See Dead People
Why You Should Watch It
Beetlejuice is Burton’s sophomoric directorial feature film, and is teeming with his trademark color schemes, goth characters, and stop-motion animation that audiences would grow to love in the coming decades. The story tackles a macabre topic—death—and twists it into something lighthearted and fun. It’s a Halloween classic that’s perfect for those who can’t stomach real horror, or maybe want a break from the more depressing content around Spooky Season.
Must See! (A)
Earlier drafts of the script set a much darker tone for the movie. Barbara (Davis) and Adam (Baldwin) Maitland’s deaths are slightly more graphic, with Barbara’s arm getting crushed in the process. When they return home, her fingers light like candles because her injured arm falls off into the fireplace. Lydia (Ryder) also has a younger sister, Cathy, who ends up being mauled by Betelgeuse (Keaton). The titular character himself was more demonic, too, with snakelike eyes and wings. He wanted to kill the Deetzes and sleep with Lydia instead of just marrying her (which explains his bizarre motivation to get hitched in the movie—they were just replacing a worse scene). Betelgeuse is destroyed in the end of the original screenplay as well, and wasn’t controlled by repeating his name three times.
Go figure Burton would choose to doctor the script into something more lighthearted. He also chose to leave out how Betelgeuse died, which is explained in the first draft as a botched hanging. But the movie still hints at his manner of death when Otho mentions that suicides become civil servants in the afterlife; and we see many of the bureaucratic workers have killed themselves. Since Betelgeuse apprenticed under the Maitland’s caseworker, Juno, the film is subtly suggesting that he died by his own hand.