Beetle Juice (1988)

PG | 92 mins | Comedy, Fantasy | 30 March 1988

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HISTORY

The film’s title appears as two words in onscreen credits, and early mentions of the project in contemporary news items, including the 23 Jan 1986 HR and 5 Dec 1986 DV, also referred to it as Beetle Juice. However, the majority of reviews and articles published at the time of the film’s release listed the title as one word.
       End credits include the statement: “Filmed at Culver Studios, Culver City, California.”
       Director Tim Burton first read Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren’s script in 1986, as noted in a May 1988 Cinefx article, and a 5 Dec 1986 DV item announced that Burton was attached to direct, with the Geffen Company producing through a financing-distribution deal with Warner Bros.
       According to a 15 Apr 1988 LA Weekly article, the production cost $14 million. As reported by a 12 Mar 1987 DV brief and 17 Mar 1987 HR production charts, principal photography began 11 Mar 1987, in East Corinth, VT, which stood in for Winter River, CT. There, a three-and-a-half-sided shell of the “Maitland’s” house was constructed, as well as the covered bridge that served as the site of the couple’s fatal car accident, as noted in an Apr 1988 AmCin article. After filming wrapped in VT, production moved to Los Angeles, CA, where shooting took place at Culver Studios.
       Michael McDowell, described as “the original writer” by a 15 Apr 1988 LA Weekly article, worked with screenwriter Warren Skaaren on rewrites throughout production. Of the changes made throughout production, the ending was reshot to include more ... More Less

The film’s title appears as two words in onscreen credits, and early mentions of the project in contemporary news items, including the 23 Jan 1986 HR and 5 Dec 1986 DV, also referred to it as Beetle Juice. However, the majority of reviews and articles published at the time of the film’s release listed the title as one word.
       End credits include the statement: “Filmed at Culver Studios, Culver City, California.”
       Director Tim Burton first read Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren’s script in 1986, as noted in a May 1988 Cinefx article, and a 5 Dec 1986 DV item announced that Burton was attached to direct, with the Geffen Company producing through a financing-distribution deal with Warner Bros.
       According to a 15 Apr 1988 LA Weekly article, the production cost $14 million. As reported by a 12 Mar 1987 DV brief and 17 Mar 1987 HR production charts, principal photography began 11 Mar 1987, in East Corinth, VT, which stood in for Winter River, CT. There, a three-and-a-half-sided shell of the “Maitland’s” house was constructed, as well as the covered bridge that served as the site of the couple’s fatal car accident, as noted in an Apr 1988 AmCin article. After filming wrapped in VT, production moved to Los Angeles, CA, where shooting took place at Culver Studios.
       Michael McDowell, described as “the original writer” by a 15 Apr 1988 LA Weekly article, worked with screenwriter Warren Skaaren on rewrites throughout production. Of the changes made throughout production, the ending was reshot to include more of Michael Keaton’s character, “Betelgeuse,” named after a star in the Orion constellation also known as “Alpha Orionis.”
       The film’s relatively low budget led to a “low-tech effects approach,” as noted in the May 1988 issue of Cinefx. Special effects included a mix of new and old technologies, including “old-style mirror effects,” according to production notes in AMPAS library files. In a 29 Apr 1988 DV article, creature designer and effects makeup artist Robert Short stated that he spent three months designing and constructing creature models during pre-production, and noted that most of the effects were filmed live on set.
       The film opened to mixed reviews but proved successful at the box office, grossing $10,450,679 in 1,000 theaters in the first five days of release, according to a 6 Apr 1988 DV advertisement. By 29 Apr 1988, DV reported that the film had taken in over $41 million in box-office receipts.
       Beetle Juice won an Academy Award for Best Makeup (Ve Neill, Steve La Porte, and Robert Short).
       An animated television series of the same name was announced in a 12 Dec 1988 DV news item, to be produced by Nelvana Entertainment and Warner Bros. for ABC-TV. Burton developed and executive-produced the series, which began 9 Sep 1989, as noted in a 24 Aug 1989 Cleveland Plain Dealer item, and continued through late 1991. On 8 Nov 1996, DV announced that Billy Frolick had been hired to a write a sequel to Beetle Juice, with Burton slated to produce and Michael Keaton in negotiations to reprise his role. However, as of the writing of this Note, no such sequel has been made. A 1 Nov 2013 HR news item also mentioned a sequel, noting that Tim Burton was in talks to direct.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
[Cleveland] Plain Dealer
24 Aug 1989.
---
American Cinematographer
Apr 1988.
---
Box Office
Oct 1987.
---
Cinefx
May 1988.
---
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1986.
---
Daily Variety
12 Mar 1987.
---
Daily Variety
6 Apr 1988.
---
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1988
p. 18.
Daily Variety
12 Dec 1988.
---
Daily Variety
8 Nov 1996
p. 3, 30.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1988
p. 10, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 2013
p. 18, 20.
LA Weekly
15 Apr 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Mar 1988
p. 1.
New York Times
30 Mar 1988
p. 18.
Variety
30 Mar 1988
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Geffen Company Presents
A Tim Burton Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Best boy grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Delia's sculptures des by
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead person
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Stand by painter
Greensman
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus ed
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cable op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Visual eff supv
Visual eff consultant
Creatures and makeup eff
Prod exec, Short eff crew
Const supv, Short eff crew
Lead puppet sculptor, Short eff crew
Creature const supv, Short eff crew
Mechanical eff supv, Short eff crew
Model shop supv, Short eff crew
Visual eff by
Visual eff by, VCE, Inc.
Opt eff, VCE, Inc.
Opt eff, VCE, Inc.
Opt eff, VCE, Inc.
Opt eff, VCE, Inc.
Opt eff, VCE, Inc.
Miniature prod, VCE, Inc.
Miniature prod, VCE, Inc.
Miniature prod, VCE, Inc.
Anim prod, VCE, Inc.
Anim prod, VCE, Inc.
Coord, VCE, Inc.
Snake seq by
Sandworm seq by
Barbara/Adam transformation by
Model town miniature by
Title des by
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
DANCE
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv for The Geffen Company
Asst prod
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst to Mr. Hashimoto
Prod assoc
Unit pub
Transportation coord
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Day-O," written by Lord Burgess and William Attaway, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte
"Man Smart, Woman Smarter," written by Norman Span, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte
"Sweetheart From Venezuela," written by Fitzroy Alexander and Bob Gordon, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte
+
SONGS
"Day-O," written by Lord Burgess and William Attaway, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte
"Man Smart, Woman Smarter," written by Norman Span, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte
"Sweetheart From Venezuela," written by Fitzroy Alexander and Bob Gordon, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte
"Jump In The Line (Shake, Shake Senora)," written by Rafael Leon and Raymond Bell, courtesy of RCA Records and performed by Harry Belafonte.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Beetlejuice
Release Date:
30 March 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 March 1988
Production Date:
began 11 March 1987 in East Corinth, VT, and Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
The Geffen Film Company
Copyright Date:
20 June 1988
Copyright Number:
PA371966
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28914
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Winter River, Connecticut, Barbara and Adam Maitland accidentally drive off a bridge near their home and drown. Thinking they are still alive, the Maitlands return home to discover that their reflections do not appear in mirrors. When they try to leave the house, they fall into a nightmarish desert that sends them scurrying back inside, where they discover a book titled Handbook for the Recently Deceased. Accepting that they have died, Adam combs the manual for advice but finds it difficult to decipher. The next day, Adam places tiny graves for himself and Barbara in a model version of Winter River he has built in the attic, while Barbara wonders if they are in heaven or hell. They spot Jane, a local real estate agent, outside the house, but although Adam calls to her, she does not respond. Barbara tells Adam the living usually cannot see the dead, according to the handbook, as Jane plants a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Soon after, Charles Deetz moves in with his morose teenaged daughter, Lydia, and his eccentric wife, Delia, who despises her new surroundings. Lydia disagrees with her stepmother, Delia, and proclaims she likes it there. Adam and Barbara detest the renovations Delia is planning and try to scare the Deetzes away, to no avail. Barbara loses patience and says she cannot watch people destroy her home, but when she walks outside, she falls into the nightmarish desert again and a massive, man-eating “sandworm” chases her back inside. That night, Delia complains that she misses New York City, but Charles, who recently suffered a nervous breakdown, is perfectly happy in Winter River. ... +


In Winter River, Connecticut, Barbara and Adam Maitland accidentally drive off a bridge near their home and drown. Thinking they are still alive, the Maitlands return home to discover that their reflections do not appear in mirrors. When they try to leave the house, they fall into a nightmarish desert that sends them scurrying back inside, where they discover a book titled Handbook for the Recently Deceased. Accepting that they have died, Adam combs the manual for advice but finds it difficult to decipher. The next day, Adam places tiny graves for himself and Barbara in a model version of Winter River he has built in the attic, while Barbara wonders if they are in heaven or hell. They spot Jane, a local real estate agent, outside the house, but although Adam calls to her, she does not respond. Barbara tells Adam the living usually cannot see the dead, according to the handbook, as Jane plants a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Soon after, Charles Deetz moves in with his morose teenaged daughter, Lydia, and his eccentric wife, Delia, who despises her new surroundings. Lydia disagrees with her stepmother, Delia, and proclaims she likes it there. Adam and Barbara detest the renovations Delia is planning and try to scare the Deetzes away, to no avail. Barbara loses patience and says she cannot watch people destroy her home, but when she walks outside, she falls into the nightmarish desert again and a massive, man-eating “sandworm” chases her back inside. That night, Delia complains that she misses New York City, but Charles, who recently suffered a nervous breakdown, is perfectly happy in Winter River. As major renovations begin on the outside of the house, the Maitlands happen upon an advertisement for Betelgeuse, a ghastly-looking “bio-exorcist” who claims he can get rid of humans. Outside, Lydia takes photographs and spies Adam and Barbara in the attic window. Lydia sees Jane, the realtor, who gives Lydia a skeleton key to pass along to Charles. Having read in the handbook that they can draw a door in case of emergencies, Adam draws one on the attic wall and knocks three times as instructed. The door opens, and the Maitlands are lured into a waiting room populated by disfigured deceased people who look exactly as they did when they died. The receptionist warns Barbara and Adam that they must spend 125 more years in their home and only get one help session with their caseworker, Juno, whom they choose to see right away. A man whose body was flattened by a car points them in the direction of Juno’s office, but instead they wander through a door that leads them to Delia’s newly decorated version of their home. Taken aback by the stark furnishings and Delia’s spiky, metal sculptures, Barbara and Adam are further startled when Juno, an older woman, appears behind them. The caseworker advises them to read the “haunting” chapter in their handbook and discourages them from employing Betelgeuse’s help. Juno explains that the only way Betelgeuse can be brought into the world is by saying his name three times. In their next attempt to scare Charles and Delia, the Maitlands cover themselves in sheets and moan around the house. Thinking they are her parents, Lydia takes Polaroid photographs of them, but when the photographs develop, she notices they have no feet. Lydia confronts Adam and Barbara, and discovers she can see and hear them. The Maitlands admit they are trying to scare her family away, but Lydia warns that Charles never walks away from an investment. Barbara notices a miniature version of Betelgeuse in Adam’s model town and calls his name twice. Adam encourages his wife to say it a third time and, when she does so, the couple shrinks to miniature size themselves. At Betelgeuse’s gravesite in the model cemetery, they dig until he emerges in a frenzy, groping Barbara, spinning his head around, and transforming his face into a scary mess of tentacles. He suggests they strike a deal, but Barbara shouts “home” three times, transforming herself and Adam back into full-size. At a dinner party in their house, the Deetzes entertain several guests, including Otho, their interior decorator, and Bernard, an agent who represents Delia’s unpopular sculptures. Hearing about Lydia’s ghost sighting, Otho claims to be an expert in the paranormal. Suddenly a loud song is heard and Delia lip-synchs along, looking frightened. In seconds, everyone at the table has lost control of their bodies and join in a coordinated dance. Finally, hands shoot out from their plates and grab their faces. Celebrating the successful haunting, Adam and Barbara run up to the attic and wait for the guests to run screaming from the house. However, the eccentric group enjoyed their paranormal experience and desires more. They send Lydia to retrieve the Maitlands, who refuse to come downstairs. Meanwhile, Charles brainstorms ideas on how to capitalize on the haunted house. Along with Otho, Charles and Delia storm the attic, but the ghosts hide from them. Spotting the Handbook of the Recently Deceased, Otho steals it. Later, Betelgeuse taunts the Maitlands about their failed efforts and upstages them by appearing in the Deetzes house as a large snake with a human head. Although the Deetzes are terrified, Adam and Barbara reprimand Betelgeuse for intervening. Frustrated. Betelgeuse claims he has not been released into the world in 600 years, but the couple refuses to say his name three times. The Maitlands seek out Juno, who coaches them to try a scarier approach to haunting. Lydia goes to the attic, and Betelgeuse calls to her from the model town. He says Adam and Barbara are gone forever and asks her to release him. She says his name twice, but the Maitlands return in time to stop her from saying it again. Although Lydia longs to be dead, too, Barbara discourages her and promises that she and Adam plan to live harmoniously with the Deetzes from now on. Downstairs, Charles presents plans for a paranormal research center and other real estate developments in Winter River to potential investors. Although the adult Deetzs demand to see the ghosts, Lydia announces that the Maitlands will not be exploited. Otho uses a spell from the handbook to conjure the Maitlands, who appear in wedding attire, hovering above a table. Barbara and Adam begin to wither like corpses, and Otho claims he cannot stop the spell. Lydia calls Betelgeuse for help, and he agrees to intervene only if she marries him. Lydia reluctantly accepts and calls his name three times. As Betelgeuse appears, he frightens the Deetzes and traps them inside Delia’s sculptures. A dead man appears and presides over the wedding of Betelgeuse and Lydia, and the Maitlands become young again. The Maitlands try to stop the wedding by calling out Betelgeuse’s name, but he silences them with his supernatural powers. When Lydia tries to say his name, Betelgeuse covers her mouth and co-opts her voice to declare her love for him. Although Betelgeuse drives the Maitlands out of the house, Barbara falls into the desert, where she mounts the man-eating sandworm and rides it back inside. Just before the marriage becomes official, the sandworm crashes into Betelgeuse and sends him back underground. Sometime later, Lydia happily rides her bike home from school and finds the Maitlands redecorating their house to look the way it once did. To celebrate Lydia’s good grades, the Maitlands send her floating into the air as she dances to an upbeat song. Upstairs, Delia shows Charles her latest sculpture, a bust of Betelgeuse. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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