The home video market is still indeed a market. While having a conversation about movies with a friend, it’s very likely someone will respond with, “Is it on Netflix?” With several streaming services available (and more coming out every month), it seems consumers are less likely to drop the extra few dollars to watch a movie. At the risk of coming off pretentious, I simply tell the truth: “I watched it on Blu-ray.” Even in 2020, the concept of a physical media player confuses casual movie watchers. With devices like Roku and AppleTV, disc readers are not necessary to stream and offer less clutter. However, not everything is available to stream, sometimes not even in the best quality, and there are still many who don’t have the most reliable internet connection. With all the options out there, physical media players continue to improve, including the evolving 4K medium.
BEETLEJUICE was released in 1988 and brought the dead back to comedic life on the big screen. Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) die in a car accident while running an errand outside their home. They return only to learn they are now ghosts. A new family has moved into their home, an eccentric one at that who plan on renovating it all. The Maitlands make it their goal to use their supernatural abilities to scare them away, but fail. They are inexperienced as ghosts and find themselves in the underworld where the living refuse to pass on in various forms. Ignoring stern warnings, they unleash a bio-exorcist named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) who wreaks havoc with his own motives.
Keaton always delivers in his roles, but this is his most insane and unrecognizable one still. Smothered in prosthetics, he utilizes this to his advantage by animating his mannerisms to great extent. The best part is that it works as Beetlejuice is literally an out of this world character. Winona Ryder also created one of her signature roles here as Lydia, the Deetzes’ youngest and goth idol for emo teens all over the world.
There have been multiple releases of BEETLEJUICE and it surprised me to learn that I never owned any of them. I’ve seen the movie several times, but it seems that I always caught it on TV or rented it. I was one of the millions of kids who watched the animated series that followed the adventures of Lydia and Beetlejuice, a more kid-friendly affair. Watching this new 4K release, I didn’t remember it being so sinister. There are quite a few suicide jokes and references along with beautiful, yet gruesome makeup effects. Luckily, I never scared easily but it’s safe to assume a movie like this would have a hard time in modern Hollywood getting funded, let alone carry a PG rating. That’s Tim Burton for you though.
His fans are no stranger to the absurd and limits being pushed for visual stimulation. This new upgrade allows all those efforts to shine brightly on the screen. While some older releases get a lazy disc upsell, BEETLEJUICE had genuine work done and feels free to breathe for fans to take in. What’s important to note is that landscape shots carry the same clarity as most of the character close-ups. During the time of filming, it was clear those behind the scenes knew what they were doing and that leads decades later to a crisp fresh image. Amazon is taken notice of the fanbase and offers a gift set version of this release, encased in a hard replica of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased from the movie. The book includes the torn Betelgeuse advertisement, patch, and collectible chalk to draw your own door that leads to the dead.
While this latest release lacks in the special features department (a trailer and a few episodes of the animated series), the picture upgrade is worth double-dipping.
The BEETLEJUICE 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is now available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.