October 29th, 2014: Beetlejuice (1988)

Cast and Crew:  Danny Elfman (Score); Robert Goulet, Dick Cavett, Glenn Shadix, Tony Cox

What It’s About: Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland live a quiet life in New England, until their car plunges into a river after Adam swerves to avoid a dog on a covered bridge.   The find themselves back in their home hours later with no memory of how they got there but quickly discover they are now ghosts inhabiting their own home. When businessman Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones) buys their house, looking for to retreat from the city, his artist wife Delia (Catherine O’Hara) begins to remodel their home.  The Maitlands only hope for help is the dry and uninformative “Handbook for the Recently Deceased”, their case worker Juno (Sylvia Sydney), and low rent “bio-exorcist” Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) who appears on their TV set in cheap looking commercials promising to rid their home of its new, unwanted owners.  Can the Maitlands and the Deetzes find a way to get along, and just how much trouble with Beetlejuice be for everyone, especially the Deetzes’ “strange and unusual” daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder)?

Why Watch it Today?: Beetlejuice was director Tim Burton’s second feature film, a big hit that cemented his status as a director, and featured his trademark visual style and many of the themes he’d explore in his later work.  It was also birthday girl Winona Ryder’s breakout role, and a great comedy centered around ghosts, haunting, and the afterlife, perfect as we near Halloween.

Other Choices: Winona Ryder is also in one of the ten segments of the anthology comedy The Ten.

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