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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Horror > Beetlejuice – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Warner Blu-ray)

Beetlejuice – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Warner Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: A-



Beetlejuice!  Beetlejuice!  Beetlejuice!  He’s back and just as gruesomely awesome as ever!  The ‘ghost with the most’ returns to home video over 20 years after his original theatrical debut in 1988 with the same power and entertainment that was always there.


In one of top performances to be snubbed by the Academy Awards (Oscars); Michael Keaton is brilliant as Beetlejuice… or is it Beetleguise?  People can say what they want of the film or even Tim Burton’s writing/directing style; but Keaton brought the character to life (literally) with such emotion, character, and depth that this reviewer is very surprised that Keaton’s performance was never more highly recognized.  The film is a genius blend of comedy, drama, and Burton’s own dark interpretation of German Expressionism.  Beetlejuice utilizes a wonderfully talented cast, an intriguing set design, and an overall plot that remains as interesting and captivating as the day it hit the big screen.  This reviewer does not have one bad thing to say about the film.  Perhaps the special effects have not aged as well as one have hoped (blue screen anyone), but that is just a minuscule gripe.  Beetlejuice is one of this reviewer’s favorites and begs the question, what happened to the old creative Tim Burton?


The plot is complicated to an extent, but the basic premise is that a recently deceased (and newly ghosted) couple named the Maintlands (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are trying to cope with being dead, all while trying to dispose of a group of yuppie Metropolitan, city folk who have moved into their house.  Prior to dying the Maintlands were content in living their quiet New England life, with Adam building models of their small town and Barbra cleaning around the house; but dying changes everything.  The Maintlands can’t just have the obnoxious city folk tearing down their house and transforming it into some Art Deco nightmare; so they travel to the Netherworld with “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” in hand and seek out someone to help them with their problem.  Traveling into the depths of the Netherworld (basically a waiting room for the dead), where suicide victims are sentenced to do bureaucratic work for all eternity, the Maintlands run into a “bio-exorcist” named Beetleguise who promises to get rid of their “living situation.”  Soon Beetlejuice is reaping obnoxious havoc (big jerk) all over the house, to the point where neither new owner nor old owner can stand him.  The problem shifts from getting rid of the city folk, to getting rid of that darn Beetlejuice!


On a similar, yet different, level than Ghostbusters this supernaturally scary comedy is filled to the brim with site gags and little nuances that you will notice more and more with each viewing.  If you have not seen this film before, now is the time to experience the old ghost with the most in all new Blu-ray.


Digging through the technical features there isn’t much to scream about, good or bad.  The picture is presented in 1080p/VC-1 1.85 X 1Widescreen that has bright colors as well as a crisp image with adequate contrast, but the low budget 1988 film does have certain downfalls.  The image is colorful but the blacks are a bit weak for such a dark film and the film shows its age with obvious blue-screen special effects and a degree of grain throughout the film’s photography.  Whereas the film is by no means a stunning High Definition presentation, it does look much better than any previous release and in the end suits the fan favorite well.


For the sound Warner used a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound track that just does not get the job done, though the original theatrical release sound was old Dolby analog A-type sound, so it is an older soundtrack.  Sliding by as merely adequate the soundtrack on this Blu-ray does not make good use of Danny Elfman’s original score and overall the sound quality is poorly balanced and sounds dated.  Some more detailed remastering would have helped, including tracking down sound stems.  The dialogue isn’t bad and the ambient noises pop-up every now and then to give a little something extra to the surround sound, but in the end the whole presentation (picture included) could have been better.


The extras include nothing new and feature the same extras that are contained in the Deluxe Edition DVD release.  The special features include three episodes from the Beetlejuice Animated Series; which are A-Ha!, Skeletons in the Closet, and Spooky B00-Tique.  The episodes are fun and well done, but the image and sound quality are that of an analog VHS; Warner seemingly putting no effort into restoring or even slightly fixing up the dated animated transfers.  There is also a ‘Music Only’ track that allows the viewer to listen to Danny Elfman’s original scores and the Calypso Songs in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround isolated from the film; in the end not all too impressive.  Finally for good measure the original theatrical trailer is thrown into the extras sections as well.


The Blu-ray does have one exclusive feature and that is an extra CD disc containing some of the film’s music.  The CD contains five of Elfman’s scores and the ‘Banana Boat Song.’


Daylight come and me wanna go home…Blu-light come and me wanna watch…



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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