James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Clay // Film Critic
Tim Burton’s BEETLEJUICE just got a much-needed upgrade to 4K this week with a new transfer of this “strange and unusual” family classic. If, by some coincidence, you are reading this article and haven’t seen this pretty transgressive and insanely popular movie, this is the time to fix that blind spot, especially with the upcoming Labor Day weekend kicking off the spooky season.
It wasn’t until watching this movie in my home theater set up, drenched in purple lighting with my new quarantine big-screen TV, that was I able to grasp what it meant to be a true fan of a movie. I thought it was unanimous praise for Michael Keaton’s really problematic yet intoxicating role as a supernatural exorcist had some blowback. Maybe because it’s one of those movies synonymous with 80s film conversation and people are tired of it, or the fact that Keaton only appears in like 14 minutes of the movie?
I’m shocked and quite possibly offended that anybody dares knock on the movie that gave us Catherine O’Hare and Winona Ryder dancing the Calypso to Harry Belafonte. [An audible scoff] (You know, the kind of scoff you get when you tell somebody you don’t like STAR WARS, or when a person in the comment section gets down-voted to oblivion for bashing on a Marvel movie.) To make a long story short, my personal opinions of this movie carry some biases, but Warner Bros. Home Entertainment killed it with this transfer.
Burton’s early work really captured this kitschy and colorful version of suburbia with greens, pinks, and purples saturating the screen. From the green grass outside of the home recently deceased couple, the Maitland’s (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin); to the purple light that douses the underworld and introduces us to a ghoulish guy burnt to a crisp, who still holds a smoking habit, a blue woman who’d been sawed in half, and a hunter with a shrunken head. Every detail pops in these character designs on the screen. It’s one of the best transfers from an “older” film to hit the home video market this year.
BEETLEJUICE’s 4k release is totally worth upgrading from the original blu ray (if you haven’t double dipped already) that came out well over ten years ago.
This is where things get a little dicy because there are no special features on the disc, aside from three episodes of the BEETLEJUICE animated tv show that ran from 1989-1991. Luckily the show is actually pretty rad and captures a more anarchic yet lovable spirit of the host with the most. If you’re into this, Shout Factory released the entire series on DVD a few years back.
It’s a bummer there are zero behind the scenes documentaries or interviews. Just imagine the stories people have about Michael Keaton getting into character or how it would be to hear eternally cool Winona Ryder reflect on her angsty portrayal of Lydia.
Hell, even to hear Alec Baldwin discuss how it’s weird that he’s in this movie. Just something, anything! No idea what the story is. Maybe they just don’t care. Either way, a silver lining of no supplemental material leans into the mystery behind one of the most delightful movies of the ’80s. Bury me with my BEETLEJUICE 4K, please.
BEETLEJUICE on 4K is now available at any online retailer.