This 1988 quirky comedy about the afterlife still has a certain amount of uniqueness about it – even if certain elements do seem dated in places.
You have to hand it to Tim Burton – there really is nothing conventional about his ideas for films in terms of the stories or the way in which he creates them. Nowhere is this better seen than in Beetlejuice, the quirky 1980’s comedy about the afterlife.
The film concentrates on the Maitlands, a couple (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) whose lives are cut short in a car accident which then sees them having to readjust to the afterlife. To make matters worse, a new family is moving in and transform their house in a hideous makeover. In desperation to get their house back to themselves, the Maitlands attempt to scare them out – unsuccessfully which leads them asking for the help of creepy ghost Betelgeuse comes in to cause all sorts of chaos.
Like many of his films, Tim Burton has a unique style visually that really captures the attention and the imagination – particularly shown when the Maitlands attempt to leave the house, leading them to a strange desert style land filled with sand worms. However, this can also make the film slightly dated now in terms of the fact the techniques don’t seem so smooth, but that in a sense also makes it endearing.
It is a film that is definitely all about the visual effects and credit should also go to the numerous people who worked on creating the make up looks for each character that matches the style of the film and story perfectly. Each look is wonderfully bold, slightly scary but also some are pretty funny – such as when the Maitlands try to show their caseworker how they are planning of scaring the Deetzes family out of their house.
Meanwhile, the story unfolds in a suitably wacky way, filled with sharp humour that may not appeal to some people but once again shows the boldness of the film, the final climatic scene which really pushes all boundaries is cleverly and vividly brought to life.
Michael Keaton’s Betelgeuse is undeniably lecherous and comes across as a clown who has gone massively off the rails. Yet, it is a performance that delivers in energy, sheer madness and somehow enjoyable to watch. Elsewhere, Winona Ryder as Lydia captures the character’s sense loneliness and isolation from those around her naturally and instantly likeable, while Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin have a nice chemistry together, bouncing off each others characters really well.
Yes it is zany and possibly slightly dated now, but Beetlejuice is still a film that continues to fascinate (having recently been transformed into a Broadway musical) with its quirky sense of imagination.
By Emma Clarendon
Beetlejuice is available to watch now on Netflix.