Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1988. The Geffen Company. Story by Michael McDowell, Larry Wilson, Screenplay by Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren. Cinematography by Thomas E. Ackerman. Produced by Michael Bender, Richard Hashimoto, Larry Wilson. Music by Danny Elfman. Production Design by Bo Welch. Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers. Film Editing by Jane Kurson. Academy Awards 1988.
Younger audiences will delight in this totally zany tale directed by Tim Burton; adults might find it gives them a splitting headache. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis play a perfectly average couple who have finally gotten their beautiful suburban home looking exactly the way they want it. On a trip home from a routine errand, they suffer a fatal car accident and are rendered spirits who haunt the house in which they were planning on being so happy forever. Once they get over the shock of being dead, they are set much further aback when a wacky, ultramodern woman (Catherine O’Hara) moves in with her husband (Jeffrey Jones) and redecorates the place to look like a modern art museum. Meanwhile, the new owners’ daughter (Winona Ryder), a rather morbid teenager, is keenly aware of the strange goings on in her new attic. To help out with the difficulties of haunting their new invaders enough to scare them out of the house, Baldwin and Davis enlist the help of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), a mischievous ghoul who ends up being more trouble than help to them. Crafty art direction and a wonderful score highlighting the music of Harry Belafonte are a scream, though the film is just too ridiculous for words. The performances are all deliciously overdone, and the makeup and visual effects astonishingly good. The film later spawned a successful, imaginative animated television series.