Beetlejuice is construed as an amusing twist on a standard ghost story. The expectations of any conventional ghost story are quickly turned on their head here it is the ghosts who are trying to drive the living out of their house and employ a exorcist who specialises in doing so; while the living, instead of being scared, regard the haunting as dinnertable entertainment. Tim Burton lets go at the eccentric script it with all the wildness in his head. There are scenes like the dinnertable sequence where the shrimp cocktails reach up to grab diners and possess them for a calypso rendition of the old soul number Day-O, or a visit to an afterlife social services agency that is filled with tyre-marked hit-and-run victims and desiccated smokers puffing on handfuls of cigarettes while insisting they are trying to cut down, that leave you wondering what planet it was that must have given birth to Burtons imagination.
Beetlejuice was celebrated as a sleeper hit in its year. Ones own endorsement is a cautious one though. The film starts fine but by about halfway through any direction the plot had has splintered off into a legion of set-piece grotesqueries and pasty carnival special effects. Michael Keatons live-wire performance, belting out dialogue at 45 rpm is fun, but nobody, not even Tim Burton, least of all scripters Michael McDowall and Warren Skaaren, seem to know what to do with him once they had wound him up and fed him his daily tab of acid. A fun film no doubting, and with a superb score, but the pace flags and it frequently becomes a schizophrenic jumble.
There have been attempts over the years to mount a sequel Beetlejuice Goes to Hawaii was a mooted title although this has never emerged. There was an animated series, Beetlejuice (1989-91), featuring the adventures of Beetlejuice and Lydia Deitz, which had a certain degree of bizarreness but inevitably made the title character into a cuddly figure.
Tim Burtons other films of genre interest include the kitsch Pee-Wees Big Adventure (1985); Batman (1989); the genteel artificial boy fairy-tale Edward Scissorhands (1990); Batman Returns (1992); Ed Wood (1994), a biopic of the worlds worst director; the alien invasion comedy Mars Attacks! (1996); the ghost story Sleepy Hollow (1999); the remake of Planet of the Apes (2001); Big Fish (2003) about an habitual teller of tall tales; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005); the stop-motion animated Gothic Corpse Bride (2005); the horror musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007); Alice in Wonderland (2010); the film remake of the tv series Dark Shadows (2012) the stop-motion animated Frankenweenie (2012); and Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children (2016). Burton also produced Henry Selicks darkly brilliant stop-motion animated fantasies The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and James and the Giant Peach (1996); as well as the live-action conte cruel Cabin Boy (1994), Batman Forever (1995), the animated 9 (2009), Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016). The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? (2015) is a fascinating documentary about Burtons failed Superman Lives project.