No, not Beatlemania; Beetle-mania! Let’s look back at the cold, dead facts about Beetlejuice (1988) in time for its 35th anniversary! Some of these are well known, and some you maybe didn’t know before; mostly credited to IMDb.com
Beetlejuice (In A Nutshell)
The Story: A married couple, Adam and Barbara Maitland, die after an accident and wind up spending their afterlife trapped in their house which is bought and moved into by a New York City family (Charles and Delia Deetz with their “strange and unusual” daughter Lydia). Suffice to say, the Maitlands are unhappy to see their former lives being turned upside down as they navigate the ins-and-outs of the afterlife. Enter Beetlejuice — the self-proclaimed “bio-exorcist” who promises to get rid of the Deetz family. Wacky shenanigans shake loose and “The ‘Juice” proves to be more of a pest than a help.
Since it’s release, one can look back and see easily that Beetlejuice was a hit! While opening weekend box office was sorta slow, the movie’s worldwide box office far surpassed the initial production budget of $15 million. The numbers were good, the audiences were happy with this weird little film, so surely a sequel was going to happen.
Yeah, about that…
Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian?
Yes, fans demanded a sequel and it just never came about! Oh sure, Tim Burton and Warner Bros. came close once or twice to settling on a deal, but they always fell flat. Something which, true to the general weirdness of the ‘Juice-iverse, would have been titled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian! More on that unmade movie explained in this article from Screen Rant!
Suffice to say they had a script, Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice) and Winona Ryder (Lydia Deetz) signed on to the project… and then Tim Burton lost all interest; choosing instead to pursue Batman (1989) and its sequel Batman Returns (1992). The demand for a sequel is still out there among fans and Warner Bros., and perhaps the recent resurgence of Keaton’s film appearances — The Flash (2023) and shelved Batgirl — and Jenna Ortega’s popularity with Tim Burton’s Wednesday (2022-present) will see something yet rise from the ‘Juice grave!
Beetlejuice The Star?
So you’d figure where the movie is titled after the character Beetlejuice it would probably have him paraded around in front of us on-screen, right? Wrong! Beetlejuice is only in approximately 14.5 minutes-worth of this entire movie! But nevertheless, it’s fair to say that Michael Keaton left a fan-favorite impression as the “Ghost With the Most”!
Betelgeuse The Star!
Beetlejuice is named after a bright red star — Betelgeuse — located in the constellation of Orion. Talk about real star power!
The Exorcist Connection
In a short comedic monologue, Beetlejuice throws in that he’s seen horror film The Exorcist (1973) about 167 times and it “keeps getting funnier” every viewing. Ironically enough, one of the actresses considered for the role of Barbara was The Exorcist star herself: Linda Blair! What’s more, actress Geena Davis went on to play the grown up version of Regan MacNeil (Blair’s character) in T.V. adaptation The Exorcist (2016).
Just a few pieces of hidden trivia:
- The bumper sticker on the Maitland’s car reads “I brake for animals”… Irony!
- The sound coming from Juno’s watch, believe it or not, is Sonata Op. 35, movement 3 from Chopin’s “Funeral March”.
- Remember when Lydia sports a red dress at her wedding to Beetlejuice? There’s an old rhyme about wedding dress colors and one part reads: “Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead.” At one point Lydia does wish herself dead; having written out a suicide note late into the movie.
The Maitlands wait in the Netherworld office area and this voice on the PA system announces that “Flight 409 is arriving at gate three”. Sounds ominous, right? It gets darker! In reality there was a situation, a plane crash into a Wyoming mountain, involving United Airlines Flight 409 on October 6th, 1955 which killed all passengers and crew. Kinda grim, Tim!
The lines Otho (Glenn Shadix) recites from the handbook to bring forth the Maitlands originate from poem “The Warning” by Thomas Lovell Beddoes. The poem itself is rather grim; commemorating the death of a lead character in Beddoes’ work “Death’s Jest-Book” while suggesting to the character’s murderer that revenge will come from beyond death.
Now there’s some sinister secrets of Beetlejuice! How many of us knew about Flight 409, or the origin of Otho’s verse reading? I know I didn’t! But that’s movie trivia; always something new you didn’t know before. Check out Beetlejuice today on its 35th anniversary and look for some of these bits of trivia!