Beetlejuice (Tim Burton 1988)

A short review

Haunted houses are typically the setting and premises of some of the best and worst horror films. However, do haunted houses necessarily mean horror? Not unless the ghosts/ Demons happen to be evil.  However, in this case the ghosts of Beetlejuice that happen to haunt the house aren’t, They are in fact a kind and caring couple; Adam and Barbra Maitland (Alic Baldwin and Geene David) who are stuck in their house for 100+ years and a forced to live with an unbearable artistic couple and their depressed daughter who in fact is so “strange an unusual” that she can see them.

For anybody that has just died and found out that they need to stay in their home for more than a century before they can go anywhere, the situation would be horrific but to see your house completely turned into an nightmarish representation of modern art. WHAT A NIGHMARE. So who can blame them for wanting to scare the new residents with some hilarious dance numbers? Yes, dance numbers, not conventional but it does call for a few truly funny moments within the feature.

On the other hand, despite the terrible attempts of the Maitland’s, a bio-exorcist also known as Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) is causing trouble for the family, along with the current residents of the house.   This makes for an even more interesting aspect of what can happen in the afterlife and gives the film a recognisable villain and trademark.


In my opinion this immature horror mixes both conventions of the genre and gives it a more childish and light-hearted flare. That changes between typical film making features with Claymation, fitting perfectly with the strangeness of the film and life after death. This method also reflects the normality we face in the real world and the uncertainty we face with the afterlife and Burton is able to mix the two, in order to show a truly unique idea on hauntings.

The film is also able to give a very different aspect on the underworld and gives the idea that how you die will impact the way you look and what happens to you in the afterlife. This can include, if you were bitten by a shark then that shark will be attached to you in death. Therefore, makes you think about being more careful when dying! Likewise, the film portrays a strong message on the all depressing nature of suicide and if this is the fait you wish to peruse, then you will be a civil servant in the afterlife and forced to work in an office for the rest of eternity and nobody wants that.

I believe that this is a fantastic classic and is one of Tim Burton’s best work. Meaning if you are in love with films as much as me and haven’t watched it yet, I ask you how have you not seen this.

April Ely


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