Amazingly, Beetlejuice is now 35 years old! Like so many of Tim Burton’s classics, it has survived through his fanbase and the dedication of merchandise as well as fan-made forms of art that have appeared throughout the years. As long as it has a distinct color scheme of neon green, black, and white, you’ll know it has something to do with Beetlejuice.
Fellow TGON writer Robert Cross covers some history of the evolution of the character from the movie to the cartoon series in “30 Years of Beetlejuice”. He mentions the transformation of the character’s personality from a pervy poltergeist in the original to a mischievous dead guy from the cartoon. The same goofy yet lighthearted take on the character can also be seen in the Beetlejuice musical which premiered in 2019.
The bottom line here is that aside from being another beloved 80’s classic, this film is still holding strong after all these years and has many new things upcoming with its celebration. Let us do a review of what more we can expect from the Beetlejuice franchise that is to come and the titular character’s appearance.
The Comic-Con Panel
This year at San Diego Comic-Con, makeup artist Ve Neill came to briefly talk about her time working on the film with moderator Matt Ryan in a panel listed as the 35th Anniversary of Beetlejuice. Neill proudly said that it is one of her favorite films ever that she was offered to work on. She gave plenty of details of the whole process of meeting Tim Burton to create the look for his characters.
Upon first walking into the trailer for the movie, Neill said she noticed there was an old corkboard on the wall. It had crumpled-up papers with pictures of a guy digging through trash that looked like a deer. She thought those pictures were random and bizarre until she realized that was supposed to be the Beetlejuice character, leading to another thought; “What kind of movie is this?!”
It was her first time getting to know Tim Burton, so Neill quickly had a sense of his dark and kooky nature when it came to creating his story. She figured out she had to make some adjustments when it came to the color theory of the project.
Originally Burton wanted to have Neill make all of the afterlife characters a pastel color. Pastels however proved not able to work as many of the scenes were so saturated with color that they simply didn’t fit. So they were all airbrushed with dark colors except for Michael Keaton’s character who had light cream-based makeup and “very weird stuff glued all over him”. The main idea she focused on was having Beetlejuice stand out from the others in the afterlife because of his outcast nature.
The original concept drawings of Beetlejuice and his trash man look were referred to as “the derelict” which Neill had some difficulty working with at first. She had Keaton painted a very pale yellow with a beige platinum wig. This look made Burton reply, “Oh he’s not fun to look at, he’s just nasty.” Neill then got permission to diverge from the drawings and do what she thought best would suit Beetlejuice. She kept the exaggerated dark circles around the eyes which are an iconic part of Burton’s style, but changed his look to fit the description of something that had crawled out from underneath a rock. The stuff glued to Keaton’s face were bits of moss and crushed foam added with a bald cap and false teeth that all resulted in a 2-hour makeup process.
The rest of the panel had Neill getting sidetracked to other movie projects she had worked on, but it was wonderful hearing her contributions to the creation of Beetlejuice.
The Musical’s Comeback
Beetlejuice is also coming to West End theatre next year for the North American Tour! As a West Coast resident myself, I am excited to see it coming to Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa from April 16th to the 28th. A new cast has also been announced starring Justin Collette as Beetlejuice and Isabella Esler as Lydia Deetz.
Something unique about the musical is not only how it expands on the story and gives a fourth-wall-breaking aspect to Beetlejuice, but also the voice that started with OG Alex Brightman. Brightman discussed with the BUILD series in an interview about the creation of this voice which came from consideration of the decaying appearance of the character. He discovered that he has a unique ability with his vocal cords to squeeze them together so that he can comfortably speak and therefore sing in a very gruff voice.
Considering this fact, how does Justin Collette do his Beetlejuice voice then? In a video he posted, he says that he uses almost no air and a little bit of gravel. Since his voice comes out quieter he relies on his mic to make him sound louder to prevent from hurting his voice. He also touches upon how for the voice it is always important to focus on the range and dynamics aside from the gravel itself.
Here in the musical, Beetlejuice is a wisecracking demonic entity with a very gruff voice and not afraid to take jabs at the members of the audience whether it be traumatizing a child by throwing a book in a fireplace to commenting on the overpriced nature of the theatre. In his look, they also saturate the neon green in his hair even more going as far as dying his facial hair green. And his main attire is that of the black and white striped suit that is infamous in the climax of the movie.
You can keep up with the tour which just began in time for spooky season at the musical’s website where all other locations are listed.
By now you have likely heard the news of production starting up for “Beetlejuice 2”. Thankfully Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder will be reprising their roles with a new appearance of Jenna Ortega who is said to be cast as Lydia’s daughter. Ortega is espcially a great cast with her kinship to the goth community after her role as Wednesday Addams in yet another Tim Burton creation.
There are many theories and hearsay about what the film will be about, but I prefer to stay away from any possible spoilers. After all this movie and Warner Brothers Studios are being heavily affected by the writers’ and actors strikes that are now over a hundred day mark anf filtered with very real serious concerns about the livelihood of Hollywood creatives.
Tim Burton told Variety that Beetlejuice 2 was almost done with production even as the strikes began. Burton also noted about how working on this sequel production made him look back to his roots in film making a reuse a lot of the practical effects that made the original film so memorable and fun. It’s important for any director to play to their strengths when it comes to making films, especially since making sequels can be such a delicate process. Burton isn’t usually known for making sequels so this a movie to look forward to.
And here is all the latest concerning Beetlejuice! Now go on to your nearest Spirit Halloween where you’ll find oodles of decorations for Beetlejuice and add the movie to your Halloween watchlist!