Year Released: 1988
How it fared back then: Beetlejuice was a hit—both a financial and critical success. It grossed almost five times its budget, and was widely appreciated by critics for its wacky premise and unique balance of horror and comedy. It won an Oscar for Best Makeup, and inspired a subsequent cartoon show.
Why it’s lasted: While the premise—a newly deceased couple enlist the help of a disturbed ghost to chase out the new inhabitants of their home—was a fresh and strange one, I’m going to go with Michael Keaton on this one. He’s just plain hilarious as Beetlejuice, the festering and manipulative “bio-exorcist.” Keaton plays Beetlejuice like a deranged Vegas act, neurotically shifting between one-man antics and sleazy sales pitches. His stand up-style bits are numerous and rapid-fire, and I always catch something new every time I see it.
Classic moments: While Beetlejuice’s cheesy one-liners, impressions, and references take the cake, some of the best classic moments are also from Winona Ryder’s character. Her portrayal of teen goth Lydia Deetz is hammy in the best way possible, like, when overwhelmed by her situation she sits down (under a black veil) to write her final farewell to her family. “I am alone…” Unsatisfied, she tears up the paper and tries again, this time going for the gusto: “I am utterly alone….” Lydia is chock full of these melodramatic professions (“I, myself, am strange and unusual…”), and this type of humour is what makes the film still so watchable today. Another favourite is The Handbook for the Recently Deceased, published by The Handbook for the Recently Deceased Press—covers all you need to know about being dead, but reads like stereo instructions.
Does it hold up? Since it’s a heavily stylized ’80s movie that relied on cutting-edge makeup and special effects for the time, it looks quite dated by today’s standards. But, as a comedy, the humour and characters were so well done that it definitely still stands up (and sings ‘Day-O’).
CONTEST: Beetlejuice Passes at The Royal
We’ve teamed up with The Royal to offer you two run-of-engagement passes to Beetlejuice! Here’s how you can enter:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and tell us why you want to see Beetlejuice
- For bonus entries: Follow us on @cinefilles on Twitter or “Like” Cinefilles on Facebook (please include your Twitter handle or Facebook name in the email). You get a bonus entry for each!
Tickets are valid only at The Royal (608 College St., Toronto, ON). Beetlejuice screens on Sunday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 25 at 2 p.m.
This contest ends at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 9, 2014. Good luck!