The house as it looked when the Maitlands owned it.
The local realtor, Jane Butterfield, is intent on convincing the Maitlands to sell their idyllic house. In the first minutes of the movie, she brings an unsolicited offer of $350,000 that has come from a New Yorker desperate to get away from the city. But Adam and Barbara aren't interested, of course. But it turns out that the New Yorker gets his chance after all. Adam and Barbara die in a car accident a few moments later as they head to the hardware store to get a good brush for applying the Tung Oil.
Their ghosts live on though, trapped in the house as a sort of purgatory. Their graves are still fresh when Jane sells the house to Charles and Delia Deetz, who move in with their daughter Lydia. Charles is a businessman who has suffered some sort of mental breakdown, Delia is an aspiring sculptor and artist, and Lydia is a brooding "goth" teenager.
Delia, played by the wonderful Catherine O'Hara, is a snobby fashionista who finds the house utterly unlivable. Her decorator, Otho, is an overweight and pretentious man, and he consents to leave the city to assist with the redesign she feels the house needs. The contemp they hold for the house is obvious as they walk through it on move-in day.
"Well deliver me from L.L. Bean." Otho quips with a roll of the eyes. The house's lack of "organic flow through" doesn't sit well with him, and he warns Charles that the renovations are going to cost him big.
The rest of the movie is a hilarious romp as the Maitland's ghosts attempt to get the Deetz family OUT of their house. The ensemble cast plays their parts perfectly, but the real star of course is the house. Had the Maitlands not loved the house so much, and if the two families taste had been more in line, there wouldn't have been a story! And their tastes could not have been more different! Take a look:
I have to assume the Maitlands hadn't gotten around to doing a lot to the exterior before they died. It's perfectly charming, but more than a little timeworn.
An army of workers arrive with the Deetz, transforming the house into a Post Modern monstrosity.
The house as the Deetz (with Otho's help of course) redesigned it. I've always thought the exterior was rather interesting this way. The style is pure 80's, but looking at it now, it really doesn't seem that dated. I like how the "bones" of the original house are still there and visible and the modern elements have been applied almost like an exoskeleton. The striped bands at the base of the house are a Tim Burton signature!
The Deetz' new porch wouldn't pass any building codes I'm aware of! Up close, it appears the stripes are bands of shingles. While I can appreciate what they did outside, the interior is a different story...
Here, we catch a glimpse of the kitchen as the Maitlands had it. Painted cupboards, a soft green on paneled walls, and a checkerboard backsplash--pure country house!
The Deetz' kitchen is a nerve-wracking combination of glass block and acid blue. I'd need a big glass of merlot to calm my nerves if I were in this room.
The Maitland's ghosts see their remodeled house for the first time. Otho and Delia have painted every surface in dark faux-finishes, and stripped much of the original details in favor of post modern pieces like this mantel with a lighted hearth.
Otho stands inside of his creation with Lydia. I actually like the abstract painting, but the fleck-painted walls and moldings, not so much.
The Deetz' dining room, with horrible faux-marble paintjob, is severe to say the least. A glass atrium at the rear of the room showcases Delia's sculptures--which are wrapped in glass block and sitting on a floor of white sand. The jagged stone slab that makes up the table is very cold looking, and those strange chairs couldn't possibly be comfortable!
In the foyer, Delia and Otho have once again painted everything in a monochromatic gray faux finish. This room looks like it has heavy smoke damage to me! In one scene, the snakeskin covered handrail turns into a real snake that attacks Delia.
At the end of the movie, Adam and Barbara come to an agreement that allows them to live peacefully with the Deetz family. They begin renovating the house BACK to the way they had it. Here, we can see they've got a bit more to do to restore the foyer.
There is no "real" Beetlejuice house. The exterior was just a shell built for filming on a hill overlooking East Corinth, Vermont. The interiors were built on a soundstage and were designed by set decorator Catherine Mann, who did a handful of late 1980's movies. As an interesting aside, the actor who played Otho (Glenn Shadix) moved back to his hometown of Bessemer, Alabama in 2007 and purchased a white Victorian built in 1886 that bore some similarity to the Maitland house. Unfortunately, his Victorian was destroyed by fire in 2008, and Shadix himself passed away in 2010.
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