Beetlejuice is a horror-fantasy-comedy hybrid above all categorization

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In the Hallowed Grounds series, we revisit some of the greatest author’s classics in modern horror history that influenced the current crop of horror films terrorizing audiences today.

Some horror movies offer a worldview rooted in truth, rooting viewers in a sense of familiarity with the real world, so when the shadows come to life it’s especially frightening. Others inhabit the jumbled world of the unknown, opening the gates of hell so that the creatures of the night can flow in and block the senses. at Tim Burton beetle juice has an entirely different approach, a conception of horror that seems to fall somewhere between the doldrums of the DMV and a horny episode of Looney Tunes.

Released in 1988 and billed as a “fantasy comedy,” Burton’s singular polka-shuffle across all overworked tropes of a genre that traditionally took itself too seriously is undoubtedly the work of a master author and well deserves the prestigious “arthouse” or “art-film” mantle. But in the way it sidesteps all expectations and graciously seeks to entertain audiences of all kinds – not just the suffocating arthouse community –beetle juice above all seems categorization, an original fearless work that should have received the accolades that other beloved, director-led horror films have won over the years, such as Oscar-winning pillars like Rosemary baby Where The Exorcist.

Warner Bros.

Undoubtedly the defining moment in Burton’s young career, his second film (after The great adventure of Pee Wee) denies convention by glossing over the boring events that lead to the death of a couple and almost immediately turns to the fun part: the death itself, and then, more importantly, what happens next. Michael Keaton, in a defining moment for his career, embodies the now beloved element of Hollywood history, the otherworldly sales demon, a macabre version of the genius of Aladdin but with a constant blunder, the “ghost with the most”: Beetlejuice.

beetle juice is first and foremost categorization, a fearless and original piece of work that should have received the accolades that other beloved, director-directed horror films have won over the years.

I have fantasized for a long time about the creative process that must have gone into making this film. Beginning with a menacing and false reverberation of Harry Belafonte’s music, beetle juice is, from the first frame, really something we’ve never seen before and will probably never see again (unless it is often mentioned sequel never takes off from the ground). Watching this film in the context of other champion films of the genre, one has to wonder: is Beetlejuice? Is this an edifying tale of the demons that await us in the Hereafter? Is it a slapstick comedy, employing legends such as Catherine O’Hara and Cock fucks Cavett to show us the great farce that is life itself? Or is it a dark meditation on the temptation to suicide, starring Winona Ryder as a teenage girl who just doesn’t feel out of place in this hypocritical and constantly silly world of the living – a world who, at the end of the celebration, realizes that there is more devilishly fun than being evacuated?

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While the movies couldn’t be more dissimilar, David Lowery’s recent film A ghost story is like Beetlejuice in that it actually involves offering an equally imaginative prediction of what is to happen in the afterlife. Both films focus on high spirits, albeit restless, just looking to get to the other side, and the character of Casey Affleck in Lowry’s film is even draped in a long, silly sheet, which can be seen the likes of Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis in a memorable sequence from Burton’s horror pastiche.

A ghost storywhether consciously or not, in fact raises quite a few thematic details of beetle juice, a film that welcomed audiences to the healthy world of ghosts stuck in the house almost 30 years ago. Most important is Lowry’s awkward, yet tender take on wandering spirits who are, like the characters in Baldwin and Davis, confused, stubborn, clumsy, and, at times, burlesque. And Lowry’s Ghost story becomes more efficient when it is oriented towards beetle juice, because, as Burton shows in his 1988 antics, when ghosts are silly, they provide a much needed, almost therapeutic, release from the existential fear of life.

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Warner Bros.

Death, like A Ghost story finally realizes, after what feels like hours of aimless wandering in self-righteous, sad and heart-wrenching elegies, is a very strange and at times ridiculous concept. When the ghost character of Casey Affleck begins to communicate with other deceased people and experience her strange poltergeist powers, we as audiences are able to find solace, and even comedy, in overwhelming desolation. of death – something that will happen to all of us someday, for that matter.

beetle juice showed us the Dali-inspired depths of weirdness that horror can descend into, and although eccentric films like A ghost story Coming and Going, Tim Burton is in a class of his own, and there will only ever be one “bio-exorcist” who offers “free demonic possession with every exorcism”.

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