1988. Directed by Tim Burton.
Criminally underrated on it's release, Tim Burton's phantasm slapstick is one of the most inventive comedies every made.
As this one has been seen by virtually everyone, I'm going to focus on the various elements that come together to make this film an absolute joy.
One of the most powerful components of the film is the world that it builds around itself. It hilariously depicts an overworked undead social services department. It has it's own rules when it comes to invocations and exorcisms, and the living and the dead are given confusing manuals on how to coexist. Burton's madcap view that life after death doesn't allow you to escape from the red tape is essential to the film and allows for the existence of Beetlejuice himself, sleazing around in between paranormal loopholes.
Michael Keaton's performance is the cornerstone of the film and every single scene he inhabits is hysterical and crass, the very essences of the character being portrayed. Using Ve Neill's Oscar winning makeup combined with Michael McDowell and Warren Skarren's script, Keaton delivered the performance of his career (at the time) and was painfully denied recognition during awards season.
Danny Elfman's score increases the haunted carnival feel of the film, while Harry Belafonte's legendary voice assists to create two of the film's most iconic scenes and cements the film's vibe as a comedic fright that just wants to have a good time.
Beetlejuice is a timeless film that both casual viewers and film fanatics indulge in regularly because it is so different from other films. It has humor, warmth, scares, and beautiful set pieces that all come together in an perfect ectoplasmic mural. It's a film that only Burton could make.and would be the set up for Burton and Keaton's partnership that would ultimately deliver Burton's masterpiece Batman Returns.
A possession infused Jamaican folk dinner dance, a not to bright Football team apparition, tribal headshrinkers, and beautiful special effects are all on display in this supernatural romp. You can't help but smile as you wander through the Maitland's House of Humor, but be sure to avoid the Lost Souls Room!