"Beetlejuice" is the stage name of Lester Green, a small-headed black dwarf in the midst of transforming into a superstar via his association with the Howard Stern Show. This tiny cultural phenom is about to burst through into the consciousness of mainstream America through roles in the movies Bubble Boy and Scary Movie II. You've been warned.

Beetlejuice (who gets his name from the "shrunken head" scene in Tim Burton's movie) is one of the most fascinating and humorous characters ever to appear on the Stern show. Among his physical traits are bugged-out eyes and malformed teeth, but these take a back seat in comparison to his remarkable personality. Beet has some kind of learning disorder or mental retardation, and his thinking process is noticeably different from yours and mine. While he is sometimes lucid, mostly he blurts out phrases having only a tenuous link with reality, such as "I weigh 850 pounds!" or "You gotta wake up in the morning and eat coffee, brother." When asked a question, he always responds first with "Who, me?" to give himself a chance to think. Then he usually answers in an absurd way: "Yeah, I've been Italian for two years." He always has an answer, whether he knows the true one or not, and everything he says always seems to make perfect sense to him.

I should point out that Beetlejuice is not necessarily slow or dumb; he just lives in some kind of distorted version of our world. He carries reading glasses around even though he can't read. He spells RED (and just about every other word) as L-T-E-R. He gives multiple answers when asked about his age, weight, or height. He has no concept of state, country, or planet -- to him the universe consists entirely of Jersey City. He claims to have been in Vietnam (where he killed 200 "Chinese" people) and Desert Storm (which took place "up in the mountains"). It is impossible to teach Beetlejuice, or even have him repeat a sentence; he'll come away with something but it won't make any sense.

Beet earns his money at appearances. Sometimes he's hired just to be the life of the party, while other times he is used for dwarf tossing purposes. [In dwarf tossing, a helmeted dwarf is thrown by partygoers onto a large padded mat several feet away.] Beet also fancies himself a pimp and a ladies man, and appears in several freakish pornographic videos. His head is often smaller than the breasts of his co-stars. From these rather disturbing beginnings, he is slowly marching toward legitimacy with his two movies due out this summer, as well as his hilarious collaboration with rap group The Smut Peddlers on their album Porn Again.

He ran for the New York Senate in 2000, despite both having no money and not being a resident of New York. He proposed that everyone go to school for 44 years, opined that abortion "makes me horny with all these whores and bitches", informed drug users that they could come to his office if they needed more drugs, and hinted at a future run for president. "I'm running for president, you motherfuckers! I'm running for president, you motherfuckers!" Another famous Beetlejuice moment occurred when he got very drunk and threw up. The noise Beetlejuice makes while vomiting can only be described as extremely strange. He also claims to have a wife Katiejuice, and cruel listeners sometimes call into the show and pretend to be her (for some reason, he thinks the callers are actually his wife).

Beetlejuice is more than a foul-mouthed, small-headed dwarf. He's a fascinating and unique person, and quite a puzzle. It may seem like he's being exploited, but he genuinely loves the attention he's getting. Otherwise, he'd probably be locked up in some hospital or asylum somewhere, or wasting away at home with his mother and sister. You can see (or if you're especially perverse, hire) Beet at his WWW home at http://www.jollydwarf.com.

An animated series based on the same character from Tim Burton’s movie. It followed the exploits of Beetlejuice and his human friend Lydia Deetz. It debuted on ABC in the fall of 1989, and was an instant hit. In 1991, the show moved to the Fox Network and ran for 65 more episodes.

The typical episode involved Beetlejuice trying to scam fellow citizens of the Netherworld. After the move to Fox, it also began spoofing popular movies and fairytales. In 1994 the show was syndicated on Nickelodeon.

Voices:

  • Beetlejuice – Stephen Ouimette
  • Lydia Deetz – Alyson Court

Lenberg, Jeff. All from The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. 2nd ed.
New York, NY: Checkmark Books, 1999.

It's... showtime."

Supernatural comedy film, released in 1988 and directed by Tim Burton. Michael McDowell wrote the screenplay, with cinematography by Thomas Ackerman, original music by Danny Elfman, art direction by Tom Duffield, and costume design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers.

The film's stars included:

And Robert Goulet and Dick Cavett made cameo appearances as houseguests of the Deetzes and hapless victims of Beetlejuice.

The film won an Oscar for Best Makeup and was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Makeup by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. It won Best Horror Film and Best Make-up at the Saturn Awards.

Our plot focuses on Adam and Barbara Maitland, who die in a tragic but silly car accident and are then doomed to spend the next 125 years as ghosts in their beautiful New England home. Unfortunately, a rough situation gets even worse when their home is sold to Charles and Delia Deetz, a crass but wealthy couple who proceed to gut out the house to accommodate Delia's rotten artwork.

Mixed into all of this is Lydia Deetz, the goth daughter who is the only person able to see the spectral Maitlands; Otho, a chubby and scheming interior designer and Delia's artistic instigator; and the Sandworms, gigantic monster worms who attack the Maitlands if they try to leave their home.

And that doesn't even include stuff like the "Handbook for the Recently Deceased," which everyone agrees reads like stereo instructions. There's the Maitlands' trip to the Underworld, which looks like a combination of the DMV and an auto factory. There's Juno, the Maitland's grumpy afterlife case worker, who chain-smokes her cigarettes through a razor slash in her throat.

There's the Maitlands' ineptly trying to scare the Deetzes away by ripping their own faces off, turning themselves into popeyed grotesqueries, running around the house in designer bedsheets, and possessing Charles, Delia, and their dinner guests and forcing them to dance and sing to Harry Belafonte's classic calypso hit "Day-O."

Into all of this steps Beetlejuice, a filthy, perverted scoundrel who operates as a "bio-exorcist" to help scare living humans away from haunted houses. His scare tactics are a lot more effective than the Maitlands' ideas, but he's also a great deal more ruthless and dangerous, and he decides to marry Lydia so he can return to the living world. Can Adam and Barbara get rid of Beetlejuice and save Lydia before they get exorcised into nothingness?

Most of the actors do a good job -- Baldwin and Davis, in some of their earliest starring roles, act amiably goofy and domestic, and Jones and O'Hara are amusingly offbeat. Glenn Shadix's Otho is simultaneously a scheming conman and an ignorant fraud, leeching off Delia's wealth by encouraging her mostly unimpressive artwork. Ryder was justifiably considered the film's breakout debut, even though it wasn't her first movie. She embodied goth teens for many people -- smart, open-minded, iconoclastic, dark, moody, and surprisingly normal.

And of course, the movie belonged to Michael Keaton, who dominated the film even with his scant 17 minutes of screen time. Almost unrecognizable under a white fright wig and moldy makeup, Keaton unleashed his id to conjure up the smarmy, sneering spook. Gross, rude, crude, lecherous, plotting, intensely dishonest, and without a doubt the movie's lead villain, but you still can't stop loving him 'cause he's just so damn funny. "Beetlejuice" the movie may be only the second-best supernatural comedy after "Ghostbusters," but Beetlejuice the character is definitely the best and most enjoyable ghost in cinematic history.

The only thing that could possibly upstage Keaton is the art direction of the movie itself. From Delia's awful sculptures that eventually become humorously ominous minor characters to the incredibly baroque face-twisting disguises the Maitlands' take to scare off their human lodgers, the entire movie is jam-packed with the morbidly bizarre creations that have become Burton's trademarks. And one of the simplest designs has become one of the film's most unforgettable images -- Beetlejuice's iconic vertically-striped black-and-white suit.

Do I recommend it? Shyeah, I recommend it. If you wanna see the movie that made Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Winona Ryder stars, if you wanna see one of the funniest horror movies ever, if you wanna groove on hilarious makeup, stop-action animation, and calypso choreography, this needs to be on your rental list.

Favorite trivia: Burton jokingly suggested "Scared Sheetless" as a title when the studio expressed doubts about "Beetlejuice." He was appropriately horrified when they actually considered using it.

"I'm the ghost with the most, babe."

horrorquest

Beetlejuice — The Soundtrack

Atlantic Records CD 9242022 (Released 1988)

If only for the impeccably re-mastered versions of two Harry Belafonte hits, "The Banana Boat Song" and "Jump in Line (Shake Senora)," this album is a great addition to anyone's collection. Composer/music director Danny Elfman utilized the aforementioned songs to fill out his own superb handiwork from the popular 1988 movie Beetlejuice, directed by Tim Burton. Elfman's whimsical but decidedly creepy cues join the Belafonte numbers on a brief (less than forty minute) ride through the movie, musically.

In the late 1950s Belafonte and others were riding the rhythmic wave, competing with the Mambo kings for record sales and airplay. The Latin craze of the beginning of the 1950s had matured; opening doors for Calypso music, just as danceable if not more so.

The two seminal tracks mentioned above have been covered widely by Calypso and progressive groups alike. However, Elfman takes the originals and digitally makes them sparkle for their movie debut.

The rest of the music provides delightful fodder for Halloween antics. The orchestration doesn't overwhelm the message of each tune; this stuff is image-evoking but not too scary to play for one's kids. This album will be a hit at spooky parties for ghosts young and old.

So successful was this disc that David Geffen's organization apparently purchased the rights and re-issued it on the Geffen label as late as 1995.

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