The Maitlands are a newly married couple featured in fantasy film “Beetlejuice” (1988) who lived in a beautiful New England farmhouse in Winter River, Connecticut, that is, until the day they died in a car crash while avoiding an animal on the road. Their car sunk into the river and that was that.
Unfortunately, Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) didn’t transcend to the afterlife, but were bound to the mortal realm as ghosts. Their prison was their own farmhouse and if they tried to leave the premises, they were confronted by monstrous sand worms which prevented their egress.
If that wasn’t bad enough, just as they were learning to settle into their ghostly duties, a pretentious, yuppie family – Charles and Delia Deetz (Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones) and Lydia (Winona Ryder), their morbid, troubled “goth girl” teen who wears black and veils to the dinner table – move into their farmhouse and begin to do major renovations and disrupt all their lovely possessions.
Seeking help from their “afterlife case worker” Juno (Sylvia Sidney), she informs the Maitlands that they’re stuck in the house for 125 years, and it’s up to them to handle unwanted guests.
Procuring a copy of a book entitled “Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” Barbara and Adam try to haunt the new owners but they soon realize they don’t have the supernatural energy needed to scare the Deetz’s away.
“How do a couple of nice young homebody ghosts get rid of a pack of pretentious, trend-setting human beings who have taken over their house and threaten to make it unlivable — even for the dead? And what does the couple do when the wraith they call on for assistance turns out to be demonic?” – WB Movie Press kit
Desperate, the undead newlyweds call upon the assistance of a malevolent ghost called Beetlejuice (“Betelgeuse”), a freelance “bio-exorcist” who was himself imprisoned in his own little world.
To release or return him to his own supernatural habitat, a person had to say his name three times. And so, Barbara and Adam invoked him. (“Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, BEETLEJUICE!”)
But now that he was out of his prison, Beetlejuice was not about to return and he would do his best to stay in the Maitland’s realm.
Meanwhile, an amateur spiritualist Otha (Glenn Shadix) invited to dinner party held by the Deetz’s invoked The Maitland ghosts to appear before him by reading the following incantation:
“Hands vermilion, start of five. Bright cotillion, ravens dive. Nightshades promise, spirits strive. To the living, let now the dead…come alive. As sudden thunder, pierces night. As magic wonder, mad affright. Rives asunder, man’s delight. Our ghost, our corpse and we rise to be. As flies the lizard, serpent fell. As goblin wizard, at the spell. The buried, dead, and slain…rise again.”
But the spell backfires and the Maitlands begin to decay. Coming to their rescue, Lydia beseeches Beetlejuice for help. And licketey split, he shows up at the dinner party (only after Lydia promies to marry hiom) and shares his own special kind of crazy with the pudgy spiritualist and the rest of the dinner guests.
In the end, however, the Maitlands return to their normal ghostly selves and Lydia wrangles a ferocious sand worm to eat Beetlejuice, thus nullifying their forced nuptials. And all is well in the house, as Barbara and Adam learn to live with new owners of the house as they wait for their 125 year sentence to expire.
The movie “Beetlejuice” (1988) spun-off an animated cartoon comedy that aired on the ABC/FOX networks entitled BEETLEJUICE (1989-91).
In the cartoon, Beetlejuice is over 600 years old and lives in a place called the Netherworld. He is frequently grumpy and ill-tempered but loves to pull pranks.
Down in the Netherworld, Beetlejuice resides at “The Roadhouse” (his landlord’s name is Mr. Crumb). Beetlejuice shares his apartment with roommates Jacques, a skeleton and Ginger, a tap-dancing spider.
Beetlejuice’s family consists of his mother (Bee), father (Gnat), and younger brother (Donny), Uncle Victor, Aunt Lucy, Uncle Sid, Aunt Irma, Aunt Mildrid, and Aunt Emme (a cow).
Beetlejuice’s turnoffs included sandworms (slithering monsters that eat ghosts) and animals especially Poopsie, a weird-looking dog owned by The Monster Across The Street. Beetlejuice likes, however, to eat bugs. Yuck!
Up in the mortal realm, Beetlejuice’s 12-year-old companion Lydia Deitz lives in Peaceful Pines with her father (Charles) and stepmother (Delia). The opposite of Beetlejuice, Lydia is clean and tidy and loves animals. She does, however, like all kinds of spooky and unusual things, and hates the color pink and frilly girly things as well as having to belong to a group called the Happy-Face Girls (Delia is the den mother).
An aspiring photographer/artist/seamstress, Lydia attends Miss Shannon’s School for Girls. But when homework get her down and she needs a little excitement in her life, she summons her friend Beetlejuice from the Netherworld by reciting an incantation and soon the two of them are off on all sorts of weird adventures. The incantation reads::
“Though I know I should be wary, still I venture someplace scary. Ghostly hauntings I turn loose, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, BEETLEJUICE!”
NOTE: The Maitland’s house in the film was a facade constructed in East Corinth, Vermont. Most of the interior shots were filmed at Culver Studios located in Southern California.
c/o The Deetz Family
Winter River, Connecticut