With each passing day throughout the month of October, the opportunity for scares increases into a fever pitch leading to Halloween night. Horror films take the center stage in the theaters, and are earning an increasingly large role on our television screens as well. Sometimes we want to be scared, sometimes we want to witness others being scared and sometimes we want to be the ones delivering the scares to others. Regardless, the chances to be filled with fright and horror are ample during October. But it is good to take a break from that from time to time, and what better way to get some relief from the menacing monsters and spooky specters is with some comedies that use those very things that frighten us to instead amuse us and fill us with laughter.
Released in 1988, Beetlejuice is one of the earliest feature length films from director, Tim Burton. Despite being so early in his career, it is one of his most quintessential films, as it possesses many of aspects of his filmmaking which he has become notorious for in the years since. One of the most stand-out aspects of the film lies within its striking visuals. Seemingly every single frame is filled with his unique vision. The architecture, the set design and the character designs are all incredibly distinct and above all else, unusual. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the titular character of Betelguese. Played by Michael Keaton, he is one of the most iconic characters that Burton has ever put on screen, and Keaton plays him perfectly. Wacky and eccentric, Betelguese is essential to the film, as it would not have nearly the reputation and longevity that it has had without him.
Beetlejuice does more than just deliver unusual and amusing characters, however. There are two parts to being a horror comedy, and though they will never be as daunting as in a fully-fledged horror flick, there are some creepy moments to be had. There are a couple of scenes in which Betelguese is fulfilling his role as antagonist in which there are some very creepy or downright disturbing visuals courtesy of Burton. The first occurs when Betelguese takes on the form of a serpent which still possess his face (mostly). The second occurs when he reveals himself in order to take young Lydia (Winona Ryder) as his bride. The first is more outright creepy than the second, but anyone with a fear of clowns will be properly wigged out by the second.
By cramming in as much character and personality as is physically possible within a 1 hour and 32 minute run time, Beetlejuice is one of the most memorable horror comedies to come out of the past few decades. It has cemented itself as an important member of this subgenre with a very devoted following, and should be high on the list of anyone who wants to get some of those horror vibes without all of the anxiety.