In the run up to Halloween our family try to sit down together and get through as many Halloweeny type films as possible. So, whatever we watch be it good, bad or just plain ugly (I’m looking at you Hocus Pocus!) I’ll post some thoughts on them. First up, the ghost with the most…
This was one of the first 15 certificated films I saw at the cinema (The Curzon in Loughborough, the Mecca against which all subsequent movie houses would be rated and found wanting) I was first taken by some irresponsible adult types to whom I am eternally grateful. I tried to go again the following day on my own and, after claiming to go to a particular school in the area which would OBVIOUSLY mean I was of an age to appreciate Jeffrey Jones in a bird jumper, found out to my eternal dismay that adult ticket prices were more expensive than child ones. So I slunk away with victory but a pounds length away.
Since then I’ve had ample opportunity to appreciate the talents of a post-Mr Mom pre-talking fucking snowman Michael Keaton as the titular character (who has suprisingly little screen time when you add it up, which I didn’t, just Google it you lazy fuckers I’m a working man dammit). The tone of the film is set early on thanks to Danny Elfman’s glorious score that sounds like a circus troupe parachuting into hell, check out the swell of importance when Alec Baldwin reads out the name of the handbook incorrectly and then repeats when he corrects himself. Well, it amuses me. (It also cracks me up when Kurt Russell yells out “Hey Sweden!” in the Norwegian camp in The Thing (more on this later) and my wife and eldest son look at me like I’m Zaphod, so you know Diff’rent Strokes and all that).
The film is as daft as a bag of spanners and doesn’t make a jot of sense when you examine it too closely, but you’re not meant to. It’s all about the look of the thing and the quirky moments, like the fly saying “Help me” in a squeaky voice. Y’know, just as I’m writing this I’ve realised that that is a reference to the Vincent Price version of “The Fly” , what with Tim Burton being the big Vincent Price fan (his early animation effort “Vincent” narrated by the man himself and Edward Scissorhands’ creator). You see! It pays to watch films over and over so you can get all the geeky references and draw blank looks of disdain from your friends and family.
One point of disappointment with the film that I have to raise is something I refer to as the “Ally Sheedy Manoeuvre” (or Sheedy for short). It’s only a slight case of the Sheedys, but it still irks me a little bit. The first known case of the Sheedys came at the end of the 80s classic The Breakfast Club (soon to appear in the Top 10 Glass Shattering Incidents In Film). For the majority of the film Ally Sheedy’s character is a sugar-sandwich eating, black-clad, messy-haired, snowy-dandruffed kleptomaniac. In short, cool and intersting. BUT! Thanks to the power of the dance montage and a teen bonding session she decides, out of the FUCKIN’ BLOO (Copyright Chris Penn, ’92), to reject the message of individuality carried throughout the rest of the film and turn into a Ringwald-clone and start sucking the face of the bun-taping jock . Maybe it’s just me, diff’rent strokes again, but she looked better BEFORE the makeover and if the Son of Sheen couldn’t appreciate that then he can just fuck off back to fondling other guys in spandex. I’m just kidding Emilio, please don’t come round and destroy my windows with your mighty pot scream, I loved you in Mission: Impossible (especially when you got a facefull of elevator shaft spikes of indeterminate function, I mean what do they do ? Stab the elevator to a stop ?) Where was I? Oh yeah, the Sheedy. This occurs at the end of Beetlejuice where former big hatted Goth Winona Ryder has now become a bike riding happy smiley plaid skirt wearing type. Now, I accept that she’d have to wear a school uniform, but it’s her whole attitude that has been overhauled. Goddammit movie teens, you have the right to remain miserable and sullen, no matter how many ghosts you befriend or bio-exorcists you almost marry.
Apart from that Beetlejuice is great and full of references to Vincent Price films that I spotted first time around when I was 12, and if you didn’t get them you must prefer High School Musical or something.