B = Beetlejuice, A to Z Blog Challenge

Best 80s movie ever? Best Tim Burton movie? Possibly.Beetlejuice posterSince there may be one or two people in the world, possibly reading this blog, who have not seen this 1988 treasure of a movie, I am here to discuss the plot. But first, you must know that it is a comedy directed by Tim Burton. Though I personally like Mars Attacks, I would have to say that Beetlejuice is exactly sixteen billion times better than Mars Attacks. It is a joy and a treasure. Shall we discuss?

Adam (a very young Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) are two happy country folk in a large, folksy house, in the folksiest town the world has ever known. When going to the store, they die (it’s Tim Burton. Did you think it was going to be about childbirth, flowers, and rainbows?). Returning home, they find strange things going on — they have no reflections, they can’t step outside the house without being attacked by a striped worm straight out of Dune, and there are funky things that are now lying around the house, namely a manual, the Handbook for the Recently Deceased (which, by the way, reads like stereo instructions). Their house is sold to Charles, a businessman recovering from a neurotic breakdown (Jeffrey Jones), Delia, an obnoxious, ultra-modern sculptor (Catherine O’Hara), and their gothic daughter, Lydia (an impossibly young Winona Ryder). The family (mainly the wife/step-mother and her faaaaabulous assistant, Otho) redesign the house.

House before: Country Corners

House before: Country Corners

 

House after: 80s Modern Chic. Where every kid in the 80s wanted to live. Anyone who says otherwise is a bastard and a filthy liar.

House after: 80s Modern Chic. Where every kid in the 80s wanted to live. Anyone who says otherwise is a bastard and a filthy liar.

 

Of course, Barbara and Adam, realizing they are ghosts and that they can’t stand the Deetzes (the new family), they attempt to scare them away. Unfortunately, despite ripping their own faces off, some head cutting, and a hangman’s noose later, they remember that the Handbook told them that the living usually won’t see the dead; they ignore the strange and unusual. However, Lydia IS strange and unusual, so she sees them and chases them down to the attic.

Lydia: the first and best gothic chick on the silver screen. Pretty tame by today’s standards.

Lydia: the first and best gothic chick on the silver screen. Pretty tame by today’s standards.

 

Adam and Barbara escape into the business center of the afterlife, where suicide victims work in eternal civil service.

I don’t see the difference. Looks just like my office. Wait…am I DEAD?! Oh, no…that’s just Corporate America.

I don’t see the difference. Looks just like my office. Wait…am I DEAD?! Oh, no…that’s just Corporate America.

 

The afterlife caseworker is no help, so when Barbara and Adam return to a totally redesigned house, they try to get the family out themselves in a hokey, terrible sheet-attempt. Instead, they become friends with Lydia.

Later, the Maitlands happens on a conspicuously-timed TV advertisement for the one and only Beetlejuice, the afterlife’s leading bio-exorcist. To get his help, all you need to do is say his name three times. Now, I’m here to tell you that there were two kinds of 80s kids — those who tried it immediately to (what I hope and assume was) disappointment, and those who waited, realizing that they had to believe and actually need his help, too afraid to break the illusory spell that Beetlejuice would actually come. (Yes, I was one of the latter).

Our host for the evening, the ghost with the most himself...BEETLEJUICE!

Our host for the evening, the ghost with the most himself…BEETLEJUICE!

 

Barbara and Adam instead decide to possess the family and their dinner party guests in what is arguably the best scene of the movie. Rather than this frightening the family and guests away, the Deetzes and company want the ghosts to attend more often. Disappointed, Adam and Barbara decline and the guests leave.

Daaaaaaaaay-O!

Daaaaaaaaay-O!

Back to Beetlejuice! Played to utter insane perfection by Michael Keaton, he is rude, foul, perverted, and angry at being cooped up. Barbara and Adam quickly decide that they don’t want his help, but Beetlejuice intervenes anyway. He turns into a human-headed snake, drops Charles the father from the second story, knocks Otho downstairs, looks up Delia’s dress, and sends Lydia scampering away into a teenage temper tantrum. Barbara saves the day by (what else?) saying Beetlejuice’s name three times to send him back home. (Kind of a dumb weakness, but it’s his kryptonite. Who are we to judge?)

Lydia decides to kill herself to be with Barbara and Adam (and because she’s goth. Duh.), but runs into Beetlejuice instead. He says that he can take her to the other side (somehow it doesn’t seem to dawn on her that this means he plans to murderize her), but Barbara and Adam intervene and stop it.

The rest is pretty much the climax, so I will paraphrase and avoid more spoilers than I already have (for those two alleged people who haven’t seen the movie). Another dinner party happens, Otho conducts a séance, Barbara and Adam are in trouble, so Lydia runs to Beetlejuice for help. Beetlejuice describes himself as an illegal alien and insists that Lydia marry him in return for his help. She agrees, havoc ensues, people fight, teeth are spat out, mouths are zippered, the Dune worm makes another appearance, we get a lovely wedding dress, and the movie ends on a charming note.

Every gothic girl in America and beyond decided then and there that she would be married in this dress.

Every gothic girl in America and beyond decided then and there that she would be married in this dress.

Nobody doesn’t like this movie. And if people you know say they don’t, they are lying. Ignore them and go watch it. Be happy. Bask in the 80s glory that was Tim Burton. Laugh, dance, and be merry.

Alternate letter considerations: Bates Motel, brazen bull, box jellyfish.

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 3, 2015.

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