“Please, they’re dead. It’s a little late to be neurotic.”

I’m going to write a post on my favorite costume that I wore on Halloween growing up. Psssssssst–it’s from a movie.

My mom took one of those “bald caps,” threaded some white yarn through the top and back all around it; I put on some white paint all over my face, neck and hands, and around my eyes–black paint.

I wish I had a picture.  I’d totally post it side-by-side with the real character…it was a little harder to take pictures in the 80s; apologies.

I was obsessed with this character in junior high, and I couldn’t wait for his scenes whenever I re-watched the movie.

The film opens with a tracking shot over the town that the story takes place in.  At least we think it is a town…

At the end of the tracking shot–at the house at the end of the road–a rather large spider climbs over the miniature model of the home that the majority of the story takes place in.

We meet a younger married couple that is having an average weekend day as they head into town to run a few errands.  They have a car accident on the bridge while trying to avoid a dog.

Cut to the two of them entering their home, drenched.

They start to notice that things are stranger and notice a “handbook” sitting on an end table.  We, along with the couple, soon learn that they did not survive the car accident on the bridge and are now a part of a very bizarre afterlife.

This film was my second exposure to Tim Burton’s work.  I saw “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” when I was in elementary school and I laughed, but the visuals didn’t stick with me like they did from “Beetlejuice.”

Not only are our protagonists, dead, their beautiful home was purchased by people that want to destroy it and make it their own.  They soon learn that the only thing they can do to defend themselves and their home is to become ghosts, with which they learn that they are not good at that–remotely.

Enter Betelgeuse.


This has to be my favorite Michael Keaton character.  I’d be surprised if he is even actually on film 30 minutes in this entire 92 minute movie.  The scenes we all remember and love are his, however.  I get the sense that Burton gave him the freedom to be the actor that he can be at times and this is the result of the best that Michael Keaton can be.  He is funny, indecent, disgusting, and frightening from one second to the next. His voice changes and delivery are amazing.  He also has many opportunities where he displays his physical humor as well (his dance in front of the whorehouse is unforgettable–can’t decide if that’s good or bad…)

It’s unfortunate that it takes approximately one hour for him to get onscreen.  Once he is on, that’s all we want to see.  I think that I have everyone of his lines memorized.

I felt that a lot of the visuals (sets, props, costumes, makeup, etc.) are very “Dr. Seussian” in terms of the odd angles and skewed views.  It is a staple in Burton’s films moving forward.

It is also the film where I fell in love with Winona Ryder for a time.  I remembered her from “Lucas,” I couldn’t forget about her after “Beetlejuice.”

Like “Ghostbusters,” this movie had many different elements working for it.  Humor, drama, terror, and creativity.  I felt the tone of the picture was true from the point of the spider crawling on the home, until we see the ghosts of the football players dancing to “Jump in the Line (Shake Senora)” on the stairs behind Lydia.

Who doesn’t want to float in the air while listening to Harry Belafonte?


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4 thoughts on ““Please, they’re dead. It’s a little late to be neurotic.”

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