Adam and Barbara Maitland are a young couple who are recently married, living in the town of Winter River, Connecticut. The film starts out with Adam taking a tarantula off the model of the town. Barbara is trying to figure out which color wallpaper would go up in the attic. Adam and Barbara drive to the store in town to get a few supplies so Adam can finish the model. On the way home, a dog stands in the middle of the bridge and Barbara swerves off to the right to avoid hitting the dog, crashing into the river. She and her husband drown and return to their house where they learn from the Handbook for the Recently Deceased that they are ghosts. Devastated, they hope that their house isn't sold by Jane Butterfield (Barb's cousin) and Little Jane. When the Deetzes (Charles, Delia & Lydia Deetz) and Otho Fenlock move in, they are helpless as for what to do. The only thing they know how to do is scare them, but no one, except for Lydia Deetz, can see them. For help, they go to Juno, their caseworker. Waiting in the waiting room for what seems like one hour, they go see her. She tells them they have been there for three months, and tells them the story of Beetlejuice.
When they return home, Beetlejuice is up to no good. He makes an ad appear on TV, promoting himself as a "bio-exorcist". He states that he "has demons running all through me!" After Adam mispronounces his name, Barbara says his name thrice (which means three times) and they go into the model. Finding Betelgeuse's grave, they dig him up. Upon digging him up (which means he soon comes out of his own coffin), he becomes a pervert, looking up her skirt. After saying, "Home!" thrice, they return to the real world. Angry at them, Beetlejuice says a few things to them. Barb picks him up, saying that he will not hurt Lydia, at which point he makes spikes appear from his body so she drops him. At that point, the Dante's Inferno Girls appear, distracting Betelgeuse. The two then leave the attic, deciding to posses the Deetzes and their friends in order to make them leave. After making them dance and sing Day-O by Harry Belafonte, the group actually enjoyed the possession, comparing it to like being at an amusement park. They don't want to leave. Instead, they want to see the Maitlands. Once Lydia said they won't come down, they decide to do a seance, using the couple's wedding clothes.
Once it begins, Lydia pleads with them to stop, but they can't. Exasperated, she goes to Beetlejuice. After guessing his name, she says it two more times after agreeing to marry him. It's Showtime! He restrains the Deetzes and in turn, frees the Maitlands. After the incident, Lydia is seen wearing a red bride gown and Beetlejuice is wearing a red tux. After summoning the Priest of the Netherworld, they begin the ceremony, with Adam and Barbara trying to send Beetlejuice back. He squeals when his name is called, and sends Adam to the town model, while he puts a bar of iron over Barb's mouth, then sends her to Saturn's moon, Titan, where ghosts go if they leave their house. Titan also happens to be the home of vicious Sandworms. At the last moment, Barbara comes crashing through the ceiling on the back of a Sandworm, which promptly devours Beetlejuice, who is then sent to the waiting room, where a witch doctor shrinks his head after Beetlejuice attempts to switch their waiting numbers.
After Lydia gets home from school, she asks Adam and Barbara if they can possess her and let her dance. Adam relents, and the song Jump in the Line (Shake, Shake Senora) by Harry Belafonte begins to play as the furniture moves and she floats, dancing in mid-air. As a result of her dancing and singing, a faint outline of the football team that was seen in Juno's office is seen behind her, singing with her for a second or two before they disappear. The movie ends with the song Jump in the Line and Lydia dancing.
Note: Most of these scenes are exclusive to the rare original workprint of the movie but a couple can be viewed online.
- The Gear Sequence: The scene were Adam attempts to leave the house after he and Barbara die is different. Instead of a desert he sees empty darkness filled with rolling cogs.
- Photo Developing: A scene were Lydia is developing the ghost sheet pictures she took of Adam and Barbra.
- Convincing Dad: After her mother yells at her and blames her for cutting holes in her sheets Lydia runs upstairs and tries to convince her dad the pictures are real.
- Attic Sandworm: an added 10 seconds after the adults leave the attic after searching for the ghost where we see a Sandworm trying to eat Adam and Barbra as they hang from the attic window.
- Biking Home/Jane's Call: An extra 2 minute scene at the end were we see Lydia riding her bike home from school and her parents talking to Jane on the phone telling her they do not want to sell the house.
- The Original Snake Scene: The snake scene had been filmed before Michael Keaton was cast as Betelgeuse, and the animatronic snake used bore no resemblance to the actor. After Keaton had been cast, some additional film was shot for the scene, using a stop-motion snake that looked more like Betelgeuse. This was suggested by the studio to make sure the audience knows that the snake is actually Betelgeuse and not some random monster from the afterlife.
- Old Bill in The Afterlife: After the afterlife scenes proved to be popular with test audiences, two additional scenes were filmed with Beetleguese in the waiting room however only one made it into the final film (Beetlejuice's head getting shrunken). The other involved Old Bill, the rambling barber from early on in the movie which was cut. Not much else is known about this scene.
Home Movie ReleasesEdit
- 1988 Original VHS: Standard version of the movie
- 1988 Original Laserdisc: Standard Version of the movie
- 1998 VHS: Edited Version of the movie removing the scene where after Beetlejuice kicks down the tree in the model, says the F word and makes a yanking motion.
- 1998 Laserdisc: Same as above
- 2008 20th Anniversary Edition: Restores the previous edits from above and includes many extras including 2 episodes of the cartoon.
- 2011 Blu-Ray: Same as above
All Characters are listed as they first appear in the film
- Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson (Casting Directors)
- Aggie Guerard Rodgers (Costume Designer)
- Danny Elfman (Musical Score Composer)
- Jane Kurson (Editor)
- Robert Short (Creature & Make-Up Effects Designer)
- Bo Welch (Production Designer)
- Thomas E. Ackerman (Director of Photography)
- Michael McDowell (Story/Screenwriter)
- Larry Wilson (Story)
- Warren Skaaren (Screenwriter)
- Michael Bender, Larry Wilson & Richard Hashimoto (Producers)
- Tim Burton (Director)
- Winter River, Connecticut
- Titan (A moon of Saturn's which the Sandworms are located)
- Model of Winter River (For the movie Betelgeuse would stay there whenever not loose)