It's halfway remarkable that a screenplay this free-wheeling, anarchic, and likely flawless was ever produced within the studio system - Warner Brothers must have thought they had another "Ghostbusters" on their hands, but "Beetlejuice" is anything but. The scene where Catherine O'Hara's macabre modern art sculptures come to life and imprison her has to be the most Burton-esque moment ever committed to celluloid.
Hard to believe that such a chaotic, bizarre & utterly irreverent film could not only make an impact on the mainstream pop culture but turn its director into a household name. Featuring an antagonist who sexually harasses most of the main characters & aims to seduce a teen-girl protagonist obsessed with death wouldn't wash in today's climate, but finds context within the film's imaginatively grotesque phantasmagoria.
Aesthetically and conceptually strong, and so unusual in both regards for 1988 that it attained minor classic status on those strengths alone. But as a narrative, it's a bit wobbly, with a hazily defined set of conflicts, rules, and motivations that put a damper on the set-design.
When I tell people I think this is one of the greatest films of all time they sort of cock their heads and look at me like my face is on fire. It's creepy, it's funny, and the art direction is beyond brilliant. When the house door opens and the sandworm twists across the screen, or when the staircase turns into a giant Beetlejuice snake?! Come on, it's so great! People who dismiss it as just for kids are missing out!
Much more entertaining now seeing it as an adult. The performances (namely Catherine O'Hara) were funnier than I remembered, also. Beetlejuice is reasonable flawed but it beats the hell out of anything Tim Burton has done lately. And if nothing else Johnny Depp isn't in it and that's good enough for me.
No one does better wacky and cartoony characters as Tim Burton when he finally decide to do comedy and this horror comedy is among the better in it's genre. Michael Keaton doing his dirty old dead man routine steal every scene and there is a lot to cherish here of both macabre ideas and flat-out slapstick humor.
I wish Tim Burton could recapture the sense of fun and play his early films had, this film being a prime example of that sense of wonder and play. Burton understood that Keaton was such a strong performer he should almost be utilized as a kind of special effect. Keaton exudes hilarious, twisted, rock star charisma as the "ghost with the most." The Calypso dance sequence is magic. A classic career high for Burton.