BEETLE JUICE

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton  

A couple of ghosts hire a freelance bio-exorcist to drive out the new owners of their home.

Tim Burtonís 1988 breakthrough feature Beetle Juice was one of the first batch of discs released onto the market, and now long overdue for re-release as a Special Edition, especially as the film seems to be gathering a loyal cult following. The film is about a dead young couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) whose house becomes haunted by trendy New Yorkers. They hire the services of a freelance bio-exorcist (a key role for Michael Keaton), but unleash a wise-cracking demon who delights in mischief and chaos.

Burtonís deliciously ghoulish tale hasnít dated terribly well. Most of the special effects were deliberately created ďin cameraĒ, and they now look increasingly primitive, even when compared to those using state of the art effects made several years earlier. Still, the film is definitely one of those that you either buy into, or you don't, and no amount of digital chicanery is going to help the film if you didn't "get it".

The DVDís 5.1 sound mix enhances the film considerably, and will be much appreciated by fans weighing up the value of upgrading from a VHS copy to a relatively bare-bones disc version. The disc features a trailer, notes and multiple language and subtitle options. The film is presented in 1.85:1 ratio, in letterboxed 4:3 format on one side, and in a 16:9-enhanced version on the other. The picture quality is generally good, with good colour and crisp focus, but itís often let down by irritating film blemishes. A new telecine transfer would now probably look considerably better. 

The disc contains Danny Elfmanís energetic score isolated in 5.1. Listening to the music track can be an education in itself, revealing how music cues are often oddly introduced or prematurely truncated.

 

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