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BEETLEJUICE (1988) ****

Beetlejuice is the sort of Ghosts-in-the-House Movie that Bob Hope would’ve made in the 30’s.  Except with more sophisticated effects, face ripping, decapitated heads, and stop-motion sandworms.  Director Tim Burton set the bar for weirdness on Pee Wee’s Big Adventure but with Beetlejuice he really raised the ante and in turn, created one of his best movies.

 

Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis star as the Maitlands, a couple of ghosts who are forced to spend the afterlife in their quaint country house.  The Maitlands have to stand idly by when annoying the Deetzes (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones) move into their home and remodel it.  They try scaring the Deetzes out of their house by playing lots of irritating calypso music and making shrimp cocktails come to life, but to no avail.  Frustrated, they enlist the help of a crazy ass ghost named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to scare the new tenants away.  Predictably, Beetlejuice gets a hankering for the Deetz’s daughter (Winona Ryder) and the Maitlands have to send Beetlejuice back to Hell (or wherever it is he came from).

 

Beetlejuice is a blast the whole way through.  The entire cast is flawless.  You’ve got Keaton acting like a goddamn madman, Ryder playing the prototypical Goth girl, and Robert Goulet acting like a total pimp.  The real star of the movie is Burton.  His off the wall vision is off the hook and he throws more bizarre imagery at you (my favorite image is O’Hara’s weirdo sculptures coming to life) than you can shake a stick at.  The plot gets increasingly sloppy as the film goes on but Burton cranks up the energy so much that you don’t notice it too much.  He returned the next year with the supremely awesome Batman.

 

O’Hara gets the best line of the movie when she walks through her new bathroom and says, “Oh look, an indoor outhouse!”

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