25 reasons why we still love Beetlejuice

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Screenshot of official Beetlejuice trailer on warnerbros.com.

10. Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice

Michael Keaton has brought the crazy to other film roles he’s played, but here is where his freak flag flies the highest. He’s fantastic as the perverse and yet oddly creative frightener of people.

“These aren’t my rules,” Beetlejuice says at one point. “Come to think of it, I don’t have any rules.”

Even though Beetlejuice is the bad guy in the film, the main villain, he’s so unhinged, he steals the show. Motivated initially by a desire for freedom since he’s been banished underground for behaving badly, once free Beetlejuice seems mostly motivated by sex and terrorizing the living. When the Maitlands decide to release him, he explodes out of his coffin in a hat and trench coat. “Babs,” he says to Barbara, bending her backward in a Hollywood kiss which she is repulsed by. Then he runs to Adam and asks, “Boy, do you know how to pick ‘em! Can I ask you something? Is this relationship really solid? Do I have a shot at her at all?”

Beetlejuice is so all Id all the time, he’s almost animalistic. He eats flies he lures to his grave, carries corpse fingers and live mice in his pockets, and spits phlegm. He’s the decayed, disgusting aspect of death that repels us. Yet Beetlejuice’s character also represents power, as he is “the ghost with the most,” and the one with the strongest ability to scare humans—even to the point of physical harm.