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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Beetlejuice (1988)

Oh my gosh I am so delighted by this film. One of the benefits of denying myself the movies in my collection until they come up for the project is that for films like this, that I will idly turn on in the background regularly, I get to watch them with almost fresh eyes. I haven't watched this in almost two years and I've missed it.


My earliest memory of Beetlejuice is my brother having rented it for a sleepover with a friend when I was five or six. I woke up early, they had fallen asleep watching it, and I walked into the living room during the snake attack scene. I don't remember how I felt about it, but I remember my mother yelling at my brother that I was terrified. Then I remember the cartoon series which. Wow. I thought about that several times as we watched tonight. Who watched this movie about a horny, vulgar undead idiot and thought, "The children need to see this!"? I mean, I'm glad they did, I loved that cartoon. I was thrilled to find that my DVD has a few episodes of the cartoon on it. I threw one on after the movie and Ben and I were awash with pleasant nostalgia (and persistent shock that it was made).


Watching this movie, really watching it for the first time since the first time I ever saw it, I have deep appreciation for how WEIRD it is. Like, my kind of weird. It's dark and funny and OUT THERE and how did it get made? How did it become as popular as it did? I mean, again, I'm so pleased, but it's really surprising. It's also very sincere, which I think is the weirdest part of all. Adam and Barbara are lovely and simple and out of step with the people around them, and truly, that can be said of each and every character. The movie holds no scorn for this couple in love, even as it revels in Michael Keaton's gluttinous crassness.


I think of Adam and Barbara regularly in my happiest moments. They remind me of Ben and I and I sometimes think, when things are really good, that we're going to go over a proverbial bridge like them. I wouldn't mind 125 years haunting our house together, though. I think we'd be good at it.


This was my first Catherine O'Hara obsession. When I have my Night of a Thousand O'Haras (A Catherine O'Hara themed costume party - the dress code being "Catherine O'Hara characters"), I will go as Delia Deetz.


I am ALWAYS a sucker for game actors. Performers who live on the edge and throw everything out there with seemingly zero fear about how it will be received and Michael Keaton and Catherine O'Hara are two of the all time greats. If only for this movie.


I have deep fondness for many elements of this movie because of the joy they bring Ben. The shrunken head guy. The reverend. Delia's sculptures. Otho. This movie is, at this point, well embroidered with my love for my partner. Is it a weird movie for that? Maybe, but we sure laugh a lot together when we're watching it. And that's pretty great.


What a fabulous reminder that I should listen to Harry Belafonte more often.


Paper, paint, glue, shadowbox.



Takeaways:

-As I was loading these to the page I thought, "I love my shadowboxes but god they're difficult to photograph" and then I immediately thought, "you could just take out the glass for photographs, silly." Sigh. That is the week I've been having. (I could redo it but we need to be out the door for a wedding in 90 minutes so NOPE)

-I struggled with this one in much the same way I struggled with Monty Python. I had Such Grand Plans for it. It was going to be a sculpture with lighting elements but when I sat down to sculpt... well it's a sad little pile on my desk still. I just did not have it in me to sculpt this week.

-That being said, I'm really pleased with it. On past cut paper pieces, I always felt like painting any element of it was cheating. But with this, the UV paint really brought it to the next level, even without the UV light shining on it. How, after 38 years of life, do I still need the constant reminder that I don't need things to be on "Hard Mode" in order to count them a success???

-I kind of want to do more Beetlejuice cut paper pieces now. Especially Miss Argentina (my favorite number in the stage show by A LOT) and Beetlejuice honking his crotch and yelling "Nice Fucking Model" - a moment in the movie that replayed in my head throughout the week and much like Beetlejuice watching the Exorcist, it kept getting funnier every single time.


Next week, one of my most beloved franchises finally comes home to me: Evil Dead. I've been swooning each time I think about getting to watch it again. Lovelovelove.


I hope this week, you stand up for yourself. Stand your ground, but stay open to compromise. Find happiness with those you love. And don't forget to dance.


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