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Rewind Reviews - Tim Burton's Beetlejuice

by Andrew Siddall. Published Wed 31 Oct 2018 18:53, last updated: 15/06/20
"Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!"

This Halloween we take a look at a classic movie from iconic director Tim Burton, which is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. In this Rewind Review we travel back to 1988 with Beetlejuice.

Recently deceased couple, Adam and Barbara, find their home has been sold to an unwelcomed family so they try to scare them away. But when their attempts fail, they hire freelance ‘bio-exorcist’ Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice) to spook them, but wind up getting more than they bargained for.

The couple are played perfectly by Geena Davis (The Fly) and Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible – Fallout). There’s a great chemistry between them and you get a sense of their history. They aren’t exactly cut out for hauntings and that provides some great gags.

Being one of the recipients of the hauntings is Winona Ryder as Lydia. She is a classic Tim Burton character, with her black costumes and slightly weird presence. She really holds her own against some very famous faces and manages to be one of the most be memorable characters. But she isn’t as memorable as the movies titular character.

Beetlejuice is played by the then future Batman, Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming), who steals the show within two minutes of screen time. The movie really livens up and manages to elevate the level of bonkers into the atmosphere. He’s a fantastic character and played expertly by Keaton, making him one of the most iconic Tim Burton characters of all time.

In true Tim Burton style, the movie is a mad mix of dark comedy and quirky ideas. The story somehow manages to make sense and introduces a brilliant interpretation of the afterlife, complete with a waiting room and an instruction book.

Even though this is mostly a comedy, there is still a fair few shocks and frights that push this towards horror territory, but the horror is very tongue-in-cheek and usually played just for laughs, bar one creepy snake attack.

It comes as a surprise that the movie has almost no special effects whatsoever, instead relying on practical effects such as puppetry and stop motion animation. Apart from a few ropey green screen shots, everything is still clever and looks fantastic, and really brings Burton’s trippy world to life.

The production design is flawless and reminiscent of a cartoon, with its twisted doorways, bright colours and artful lighting. The high attention to detail really pays off giving viewers an immersive experience.

Frequent Burton collaborator, Danny Elfman crafted the score, and it is one of his best. It highlights the quirkiness and establishes the movie as something different. It even hints at some of the iconic score he would go on to produce, including Batman (1989) and The Nightmare before Christmas (1993).

Overall, this is a blast to watch and a must-see on Halloween. The characters are brilliantly realised and the story manages to be both shocking and hysterical. It’s one of Tim Burton’s finest films and one of Michael Keaton’s most memorable performances. It is well worth a watch, just don’t say the name three times!

Purple Revolver rating: 4.5/5. “It’s show time!”


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