05 December, 2013


The ANU film group solicited short reviews for the semester 2, 2013 programme. This is my review of Beetlejuice for them. I was really happy to do this review because not only had I actually seen the movie (Unlike the other two I had to review), but it was one of my all-time favourites I really wanted to review.

This is a film for all of those who are a little bit “weird”. If you’ve never seen Tim Burton’s classic 1988 dark comedy (with a little bit of drama and a thin smear of scary bits) - you really should NOW! If you’ve seen it before - SEE IT AGAIN!! An all star cast headed by Alex Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder. There’s also a strong supporting cast of famous 80’s comedy faces including Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara.
Adam Maitland (Baldwin) and his wife Barbara (Davis) die in a car accident in their picturesque Vermont town but remain as ghosts in their old house. While still not coming to grips with their “passing”, the Maitland’s are shocked by the rich, yuppie Deetz family that moves-in to their home and the deep isolation and sorrow of their goth daughter Lydia (Ryder).
The Maitlands try their incompetent best to scare-away the Deetzes, but only succeed in attracting interest and attention from them and their pretentiously stylish hangers-on. In an act of desperation, the Maitlands call-in professional “haunter” Beetlejuice (Keaton), but at what cost?

This film is a sheer joy, Keaton’s Beetlejuice steals every scene with machine-gun dialogue and madcap slapstick. Burton’s surreal visions of the afterlife and the “undead civil-service” are a wonder to behold (even if the Harryhausen-esque model-work looks a bit dated by today’s standards). The Harry Belafonte tunes really top-off a gem of a film.

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