Beetlejuice is Burton’s third movie as director and his second to be released with Warner Brothers. Burton was nominated for the Saturn Award for best director, but lost to Robert Zemeckis, who directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
After the Maitlands pass away in a car accident, they find themselves stuck in their countryside home. The Deetzes move in shortly after and their failed attempts to scare the Maitlands out of their home attract Betelgeuse – a dangerous and disorderly spirit living in the model town that Adam Maitland created. While the Deetzes try to use the Maitlands as a profitable outcome, Lydia Deetz summons Betelgeuse to save them, putting herself in a forced marriage.
The cast of Beetlejuice features a lot of well-known celebrities. Michael Keaton is Betelgeuse, Winona Ryder is Lydia Deetz, Geena Davis is Barbara Maitland and Alec Baldwin is Adam Maitland. The movie also features Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Glenn Shadix playing recurring roles throughout the movie.
IDMB states that even though the film is titled Beetlejuice, the character is named “Betelgeuse” because it was funnier and marketed better at the time. You see this spelling throughout the movie when he starts to advertise himself to the Maitlands with commercial ads and on his tombstone.
The wedding between Lydia Deetz and Betelgeuse is a reference to the forced marriage seen in the Princess Bride, released in 1987. In the dinner party scene, Otho tells Beryl that “somebody dropped a house on her sister,” a reference to The Wizard of Oz. While Betelgeuse rises from the town model, at the top of his circus hat is a skeleton head. This design was made by Burton in 1982 and used as Jack Skellington in his later movie Nightmare Before Christmas, released in 1993.
The most iconic scene in the movie is the “Day-O” dinner where the Maitlands possess the Deetzes and the dinner guests to dance to “Banana Boat” by Harry Belafonte, released in 1956. Burton worried that the audience would not like the scene, but many fans did.
Burton is known for his unique style and can be easily enjoyed by all. Beetlejuice is a classic that continues to draw attention and popularity. Burton is working on making a sequel, Beetlejuice 2, with the original cast and featuring Johnny Depp, with a release date in 2025.