My childhood: Beetlejuice – movie&cartoon

Beetlejuice (TV series)

Beetlejuice is an American-Canadian animated television series which ran from September 9, 1989 to October 26, 1991 on ABC and, on Fox from September 9, 1991 to December 6, 1991. Loosely based on the 1988 film of the same name, it was developed and executive-produced by the film’s director, Tim Burton. The series focus on the life of Goth girl Lydia Deetz and her undead friend Beetlejuice as they explore The Neitherworld, a wacky afterlife realm inhabited by monsters, ghosts, ghouls and zombies. Danny Elfman’s theme for the film was arranged for the cartoon by Elfman himself.

Beetlejuice-cartoon

Episodes generally centered on the ghostly con-man Beetlejuice, his best (and only true) friend Lydia, and their adventures together in both the Neitherworld and the “real world”, a fictional New England town called Peaceful Pines (“Winter River” in the film). As in the film, Lydia could summon Beetlejuice out of the Neitherworld (or go there herself) by calling his name three times, sometimes as part of a set chant:

“Though I know I should be wary,
Still I venture someplace scary;
Ghostly hauntings I turn loose …
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”

Occasionally, there are other effects from that chant, such as Lydia’s room changing to a gothic castle. On a few occasions, other people and ghosts went to the Neitherworld or the living world, either when Lydia takes them with her by chanting Beetlejuice’s name, or presumably through a door that connects Lydia’s and Beetlejuice’s homes.

In only a very few episodes is Lydia not present, those being wholly escapades of Beetlejuice in the Neitherworld.

beetlejuice cartoon 2

The series’ humor relied heavily on sight gags, wordplay, and allusiveness. Many episodes, especially towards the end of the run, were parodies of famous films (such as Brigadoon, Shane, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life and Moby Dick), books, and TV shows (such as Masterpiece Theatre, Pee-wee’s Playhouse and The Twilight Zone). The episode “Brides of Funkenstein” was based on an idea submitted by a then-teenage girl, who was a fan of the show.

Throughout the series, Beetlejuice would often try to scam residents of the Neitherworld — and, sometimes, the “real world” as well (Lydia’s parents were occasional unwitting victims of his pranks) — by various means, from “baby-sitting” (in which he literally sits on the grotesque Neitherworld babies) to trying to beat them in an auto race.

beetlejuice movie

Beetlejuice Movie (1988)

Beetlejuice is a 1988 American comedy fantasy film directed by Tim Burton, produced by The Geffen Film Company and distributed by Warner Bros. The plot revolves around a recently deceased young couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) who become ghosts haunting their former home, and an obnoxious, devious ghost named Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice, portrayed by Michael Keaton) from the Netherworld who tries to scare away the new inhabitants (Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Winona Ryder) permanently.

beetlejuice movie 2

The original script was a horror film, and featured Beetlejuice as a winged, reptilian demon who transformed into a small Middle Eastern man to interact with the Maitlands and the Deetzes. Lydia was a minor character, with her six year old sister Cathy being the Deetz child able to see the Maitlands. Beetlejuice’s goal was to kill the Deetzs, rather than frighten them away, and included sequences where he mauled Cathy in the form of a rabid squirrel and tried to rape Lydia. Subsequent script rewrites turned the film into a comedy and toned down Beetlejuice’s character into the ghost of an wise cracking con-artist rather than a demon.

According to Michael Keaton, the Betelgeuse character was described to him by director Tim Burton as “having lived in every time period but no time period.” Keaton used this as the jumping-off point to create the character with such features as a shock hairdo, mold makeup, and large teeth. He said that when he first showed up to the set as Betelgeuse the crew was chanting, “Juice, Juice, Juice.” This got Keaton excited to do a lot of improvisation during filming.

Sources: imdb.com, wikipedia.org

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