Since it’s Halloween I figured we ought to have something spooky on the site today and what better than the Tim Burton directed film Beetlejuice. It might not be particularly scary, but it is very funny.
Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) are a young couple who live in a small American backwater town. One day, whilst driving home across one of those weird bridges with a sort of building on that they only seem to have in these small US towns, they swerve to avoid a dog and crash through the side of the bridge. In the next scene we see them arriving back at their house. They don’t initially realise they died in the car crash, but soon the penny drops when Barbara’s hand catches fire and it is not burnt, they no longer seem to have reflections and when Adam tries to retrace his steps to the bridge he finds himself in a strange desert land populated by giant sand worms. Final confirmation is provided when they find a book called The Handbook for the Recently Deceased.
Things soon turn worse for the dearly departed couple, as a rich New York family, the Deetz’s, buy their home and move in. Adam and Barbara try to frighten the family into leaving, but all their efforts such as pulling scary faces or even removing their head go completely unnoticed. Unbeknown to them, their useless antics are being watched by another ghost from the afterlife. This is Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) who keeps trying to get in touch with the Maitlands to offer his services to help them get their home back. The film must have been named Beetlejuice to make it easier for people to know how to pronounce Betelgeuse!
The Maitlands eventually make contact with Lydia (Winona Ryder), the loner goth daughter of the new house occupants. She is able to see the Maitlands and agrees to help them by trying to convince her father and step-mother to leave the house. Unfortunately they do not believe Lydia’s tales of hauntings and steadfastly refuse to leave. Finally at the end of their tether the Maitlands give in and call on Betelgeuse for help by saying his name out loud three times. After hearing how Betelgeuse intends to help them they refuse his help, but by now it is already too late.
Adam gets an idea on how to scare away the family when the Deetz’s have guests round, but it backfires when instead Lydia is sent as messenger to invite them down to introduce themselves. They refuse, and after the guests leave the Deetz’s attempt to confront them, but they go into hiding. Betelgeuse sees all this, and finding it highly amusing, sets to work himself in getting rid of the Deetz’s. However, he spots Lydia and takes a shine to her and, appealing to her suicidal tendencies offers to help her kill herself, in exchange for marrying him which will allow him to leave the afterlife for good. The Maitlands can not allow this though, and they finally dispose of Betelgeuse by getting one of the strange otherworldly sand worms they encountered earlier to fly through the house, swallowing him whole.