I often ask myself what Johnny Depp would have been like as Beetlejuice, and whether he could have pulled it off at such a young age. Keaton, coming from a comedy background however is perfect for the role, and I find difficulty in seeing who could have done a better job. While some of the effects look dated (The sand snake), others still look pretty good.
The story involves a recently deceased couple coming to terms with the afterlife, and dealing with a group of yuppies moving into the house from which they cannot leave. To rid the house of the newcomers, they enlist the powers of the mysterious, and malevolent Beetlejuice. Chaos ensues. It is very surreal, with some excellent dark comedy, and winning performances from Keaton and Ryder with special mention going to Glenn Shadix as Otho. Davies is good as always, and Baldwin is ok, but watching Keaton skip about is the high point. Every line he has is gold, and delivered to perfection, and the most memorable scenes usually revolve around him, my favourite is probably the head-shrinking scene at the end. The score, by Danny Elfman is also worthy of mentioning, and the make up team won an Oscar. Another rare treat.
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Imagine Batman crossed with Johnny Depp and you’ll probably start crying. Beetlejuice has nothing to do with either of those things. It is a film starring Winny Roader, Michael Clayton, Billy Baldwin, and Macauley Culkin’s mum and of course Genie Davis. Genie and Billy have just moved into a scary looking haunted house in a small town. On the way to a shop their car is attacked by a dog and they drown. They die but as we all know when you die you become a ghost, or sometimes a zombie. It turns out though that there are rules, bureaucracy, and a whole new world (don’t you dare close your eyes!) of the undead. They are given a massive rulebook for ghosts called ‘The Unholy Bible’ which tells them their powers and responsibilities. It turns out that they can stay together, but that they are trapped within the confines of the walls of their house. If they step outside they’ll be eaten by a graboid. Where’s Steve Irwin when you need him! Just as they are getting used to this, a new family of yuppies decides to move in to the house and wreck everything. The ghosts begin to haunt, but they may need some help…
Help comes in the form of Buster Keaton. He plays a malevolent demon called Beetleguy, but if you say his name 3 times he turns into a bee and flies into your mouth. He specialises in ridding houses of pesky humeans, and will go to extreme lengths to achieve his goals such as making their trousers fall down in public. Genie and Billy give him the job but they realise he is too evil and wants to hurt the people. They have become fond of Winowner who plays their odd goth/emo/punk/metalhead/alt.country/hippy/weirdo/son/daughter, and who happens to be able to see the dead. Beetleguy wants to marry her and then do things to her so they all have to work together to stop him.
There is top class acting from everyone here, especially from Keats just one year before he dons the cape to become Clark Kent in Spiderman. He improvises many lines and shows his comedy stylings from his days as a comedian in such shows as T*A*X*I and mash. His most famous line is of course ‘Go ahead… make my day punk!’ but is also known for coming up with the popular phrase ‘I’m the ghost with some toast’. He has many monologues, talks into the camera and has a dolphin of a times, coming out with filthy gems like ‘Let’s turn on the juice and shake out our juice!’ when he sees a strip club has been built in his town. His chemistry with Winoprah is like Hydrochloric acid mixed with sulphur, but not as smelly- Betelguy: (after Lydia says his name three times) Time to playee!
Overall this is a mostly enjoyable film, but perhaps too scary for the younglings. It was certainly too scary for me. Good costumes, graphics, and music, featuring the classic Harry From Delmonte songs ‘Shake Manure Yeah’ and ‘Jump In The Lime’ as well as a useful score from long time Tim Bunion fan Danny ‘Elf’ Man.
Best Scene: When Beetleguy is annoying all the other dead guys so the voodoo lady sprinkles his head with dust until it grows and grows to the size of 8 heads. This makes me laugh every time I see it- (once)