SF elements



After drowning in an accident, a bland lovey-dovey New England couple [Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin] find themselves haunting their house. At first it doesn't seem so bad. But they are horrified when a new family moves in, remodelling and restyling their beloved house out of recognition. [Keaton as Beetlejuice] So they decide to scare them away. But that's not as easy as it used to be. The only one of the family who can see them is the gothest of goths daughter [Winona Ryder], who is fascinated and quickly befriends them. They drape themselves with designer sheets, and moan, but no-one cares. So they try possession -- forcing the owners and their guests into a bizarre (and totally hilarious) rendition of "The Banana Boat Song" over dinner. It backfires -- the owners are delighted and now want to exploit their haunted house! A quick trip to the afterlife's waiting room informs the ghosts that they have got to get rid of these people, who are in danger of getting forbidden proof of life after death. Their own efforts having failed, in desperation they call on bio-exorcist Betelgeuse [Michael Keaton] to help them out, and things really start to get out of hand...

The plot, actually, is paper thin. It's all the delicious understated details that make this worth watching. Tim Burton's depiction of the afterlife, populated by grotesque people still squashed flat by trucks, or hanging from a noose, or cut in half, is gloriously bizarre. The reaction of the appalling sophisticates to the ghosts, the bemusement of the naive ghosts themselves, the totally over the top performance of Keaton as Beetlejuice -- are all wonderful.

Rating: 3

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 17 December 2000