This one is a classic. Beetlejuice follows the story of a young married couple who die in a car accident, and find themselves trapped inside their old country home while a city family move in and start changing everything around. Desperate to halt the destruction of their home and evict the unwanted newcomers, they attempt to scare them off unsuccessfully – and eventually turn to Beetlejuice, a ghost of bad repute who claims to be able to get rid of any human infestation. They soon begin to wish that they had heeded the warnings given to them, as things rapidly get out of hand.
Winona Ryder is brilliant as the family’s young daughter Lydia, who shrouds herself in gothic melodrama and is the only one who can see the ghosts at first. She decides to be friends with Barbara and Adam, even going so far as wanting to join them as ghosts, but the conclusion sees all involved parties getting a solution that suits them well. The film is funny and well done, with certain effects (such as Shrunken Head Guy) still looking great even today. The scene where a dinner part is possessed into performing a routine to “Day-O” is hilarious, probably the most outstanding of the film, and one that will have you watching again just to catch all the facial expressions and gestures. This is Tim Burton really at his best – and no Depp or Bonham Carter in sight.
Strangely enough, even though it is his name on the box Beetlejuice is the only character who does not really impress. Keaton’s slapstick wackiness is on a Jim-Carrey-The-Mask kind of level, and really not as funny as it is perhaps intended to be, an unfortunate weak point in an otherwise fantastic film. It stands up to multiple viewings and there are a couple of scenes that stay amusing for a long, long time – so it is well worth discovering if you have not already.