Say “” three times and, whoosh! 30 years go by.
Released on March 30, 1988, “Beetlejuice” gaveand career-defining roles, made an A-list director (and enabled him to make “ ” with Keaton), spawned a popular animated series, and made viewers laugh so hard that they’re still bugging Keaton to make a sequel. (Fingers crossed.)
Still, as often as you’ve re-watched the horror comedy over the past three decades, there’s still plenty you may not know about “Beetlejuice,” including who almost starred in it, how much darker it was supposed to be, which on-set romance blossomed into a marriage, and which titles were (thankfully) rejected. Put on some
1. “Beetlejuice” started out as a spec script by , with revisions by Larry Wilson. Wilson showed it to an executive at Universal, who thought the script was too weird and awful and told Wilson he was committing career suicide by showing it around as a calling card. Nonetheless, McDowell and Wilson quickly sold the screenplay to producer .
2. Burton was looking for a follow-up to his debut film, the hit “
3. The early drafts of the screenplay were much darker, with more gore and violence, as well as more ethnic stereotyping in the character of Beetlejuice. The sequence of the group possession at the dinner party involved a vine-patterned rug coming to life to ensnare the guests, rather than the revised scene of the group being compelled to dance to calypso music. Writer was hired to revise the screenplay further.
4. Burton’s initial idea for the title role was to cast
5. Casting Winona Ryder as Lydia was much easier; Burton picked her because he’d liked her performance in high school drama “ .”
6. Burton got turned down by a number of actresses before finally settling on
7. nearly played the part of Delia Deetz. It was only after Huston fell ill that Catherine O’Hara was cast as her replacement, and only after O’Hara initially declined the offer.
8. The film’s outdoor scenes were shot in East Corinth, Vermont. Some of the sets had to be built from scratch, including the Maitlands’ house and the covered bridge where they have their fatal accident. Interiors were largely shot on a Hollywood soundstage.
9. The movie’s budget was a modest $15 million, including just $1 million for special effects. So most of the effects shots had to be done in camera, or with handmade stop-motion animated puppets that animator Burton added in post-production. Burton felt that the low-budget, hand-crafted effects created a surreal, shabby vibe that suited the story.
10. The production designer on the film was
11. Welch’s inspiration for the vast bureaucratic limbo that is the movie’s afterlife was the interior of the Johnson Wax building in Oklahoma, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The actual set was fairly small, no more than 75 feet wide, but was made to look bigger via matte paintings of columns stretching into the distance.
12. Warner Bros. wasn’t fond of the title “Beetlejuice” (due to marketing reasons) and suggested the bland “House Ghosts” instead. Burton jokingly suggested “Scared Sheetless,” only to learn to his horror that Warners kinda liked it and was seriously considering using it.13. Late actor, who played Otho in the film, was so fond of the song “Day-O” that it was played during his funeral in 2010.
14. While “Beetlejuice” is notable for its use of catchy
15. “Beetlejuice” earned $74 million at the domestic box office. It was the tenth biggest hit of 1988.
16. The hair and make-up that transformed Keaton into a rotting ghoul won an Oscar.
17. For decades, fans have asked Keaton, Ryder, and Burton whether there will ever be a sequel. One seemed to be brewing in recent years, with frequent Burton collaborator writing the script, but Burton remained reluctant, and the project has apparently fizzled out. Nonetheless, there were plans to bring a “Beetlejuice” musical to Broadway by late 2018.