Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday! For the first Saturday in October, I wanted to make a post on Beetlejuice. Though it’s not technically a Halloween film, it still brings the Halloween spirit and atmosphere, an aspect Tim Burton perfected in most of his films. It’s tradition to watch it around Halloween, so I think it’s perfect for the first week in October!
(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)
- House Ghosts was almost the films title, at least it was the first title the studio came up with it. Then, Tim Burton jokingly suggested the title Scared Sheetless. To his horror, the studio actually considered using that title. Thank God it didn’t happen!
- To Michael Keaton (Betelgeuse), Tim Burton described Betelgeuse as “having lived in every time period but no time period.” Keaton took this description into consideration when thinking about the character’s look. Thus, the shock hairdo, mold makeup, and large teeth were added to Betelgeuse. When Keaton first entered the set in his Betelgeuse costume, crew members hyped him up by chanting “Juice! Juice! Juice!”
- Glenn Shadix was mostly known for his role as Otho in this film. When he passed away, the last song played at his funeral was Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), which is the song Otho and other characters were forced to dance to in the film’s famous dinner party scene.
- One inconsistency with the film is the fact that most of the spirits are in the same condition as how they died – except Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis). They died by drowning, but we only see them soaking wet when they get home right after they drowned. Tim Burton actually has an explanation for this. He didn’t want Alec and Geena to be constantly uncomfortable during filming, so he chose not to keep them wet the whole time.
- During a dinner conversation, Otho states that people who commit suicide end up as civil servants in the afterlife. It was actually hinted that it’s true in the film. Some of the civil servant ghosts Adam and Barbara come across died by suicide. The receptionist (Patrice Martinez) slit her wrists, there’s a hanging man swinging around the office, and the crushed man who escorted them to Juno (Sylvia Sidney) supposedly got himself run over by a truck. Even Juno committed suicide by slitting her own throat. It was going to be explained that Betelgeuse painfully hanged himself after his heart got broken. That’s why he was surprised that Lydia (Winona Ryder) wished to die.
- The scene with Betelgeuse as a snake was filmed before Michael Keaton was cast for the role. After Keaton was cast, there was some conflict because the Betel-Snake looked nothing like him. Additional footage had to be shot with a stop-motion snake that looked more like him, so audiences would know it was Betelgeuse and not some random afterlife monster.
- One of the most famous scenes in the film is when Adam and Barbara ask Betelgeuse if he can be scary and he shows them a terrifying face as his answer. We were actually supposed to see the scary face, the makeup effect was created, but eventually went unused. I believe it was for the best because it’s now left to the viewers’ imaginations.
- Tim Burton was initially worried that the dinner dance scene wouldn’t be received well, because he didn’t find it funny. To his surprise, that scene became the most iconic and loved in the whole film.
- Tim Burton was a big fan of Sammy Davis Jr., and he wanted Davis to play Betelgeuse, but the studio severely disliked the idea.
- Michael Keaton got inspiration for his role from Chop Top (Bill Moseley) from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
- Heather Langenkamp was considered for the role of Lydia after her performance in A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984). However, Heather didn’t want to play a goth girl, so she turned the role down.
- There’s a nod to The Fly (1958) when Betelgeuse lures and eats a fly. Keaton was actually offered the lead role in The Fly (1986), which starred Geena Davis.
- Anjelica Huston was originally supposed to be Delia (Catherine O’Hara), but she couldn’t come in to film due to illness.
- John Candy was once considered for the role of Otho. Though Candy is a legendary actor, Glenn Shadix was so perfect for Otho!
- When Betelgeuse tries to force Lydia to marry him, he makes her wear a red wedding dress. There’s an old rhyme about wedding dress colors that states, “Married in red, better off dead.” I don’t know if the dress was intentionally red because of that rhyme, but it’s still pretty funny.