Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988, USA)

With a sequel soon in the works, Tim Burton's Beetlejuice is due for reappraisal. After Pee-Wee proved Burton a bankable director, he was given $15 million to make Beetlejuice. From a screenplay by horror author Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren, the film is notable for being one of those classic 80s films that appealed to children, despite not being entirely intended for them. This was the film where Tim Burton came into his own - his obsessions fully on display for the whole world to see. The "Burton-esque" sensibility found full realization here, despite the film's seemingly small $1 million budget on visual effects. Heralded as a critical and commercial success, the film's reputation and cult following have only grown over the years - like many of Burton's films.

The most iconic aspect of the film - and there are many - is Michael Keaton's performance as the titular character. His off-beat, manic performance - surely improvized in many instances - is one of the most memorable and iconic performances of the 80s. It is easy to forget that the rest of the cast of heavy hitters were also in top form here - Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder. The film also marks Burton's second collaboration with Danny Elfman, a collaboration that would continue throughout the director's career. And it is hard to talk about Beetlejuice without mentioning the film's iconic score, featuring Harry Belafonte's song "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" very memorably.

The film's trademark visual style is also one of the real stars, with a hodge-podge of gothic and comic book aesthetics. The film mixes stop-motion animation with surreal sets to create a very chaotic and otherworldly feeling, that also lends itself to the film's darkly comic tone. Beetlejuice is considered a classic for good reason.



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