It’s hard to believe that Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice turns 30 this week! The horror comedy classic was first released to US theatres on March 30th, 1988. The film was an instant financial success, and quickly earned its cult status as one of Tim Burton’s best. The film starred and un-recognizable Michael Keaton as the titular Beetlejuice (or Betelgeuse, depending on your fancy) a bio-exorcist reluctantly charged with clearing out the alive Deetz family from the undead Maitland Family’s New England farmhouse.
Though the starring and supporting roles of this film are iconic, stylized and unforgettable (a young Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz, Geena Davis as Barbara Maitland, Alec Baldwin as Adam Maitland, and Catherine O’Hara as Delia Deetz), Tim Burton’s greatest asset as a filmmaker is his signature fantastical, gothic style infecting every corner of the screen. Whether characters, set pieces, or plot, whimsical horror can be found from start to finish in Beetlejuice.
Today, we’re spotlighting those Background roles, the characters with a single line of dialog, a flicker of a close-up. They are our guides into the scope of Beetlejuice’s underworld. And without a copy of The Handbook for the Recently Deceased, well, we’ll just have to make do.
The 10 Best Background Characters From Beetlejuice
10. Charred Man
9. Jane Butterfield
“This house is so big. It really ought to belong to people who have children.”
8. Harry the Hunter
7. Football Players
Football Player #1: Coach. Coach, where’s the men’s room?
Juno: I’m not your coach! He survived!
Football Player #2: Wait, coach, let me get something straight. What’s our curfew around here?
Juno: Will you get out of here! Go on, get downstairs! “‘Men’s room!” Are you kidding? Can’t you read signs?
6. Magician’s Assistant
5. Roadkill Man
Roadkill Man: How do I look? There are no mirrors on this side.
Adam: Fine, you look fine.
Roadkill Man: Yeah?
Roadkill Man: Thanks, I’ve been feeling a little flat.
“That’s the lost souls room; a room for ghosts that have been exorcised. The poor devils. That’s death for the dead. It’s all in the handbook.”
3. Old Bill
2. Miss Argentina
Barbara: Adam, is this what happens when you die?
Miss Argentina: This is what happens when *you* die.
[points at a Charred man smoking]
Miss Argentina: That is what happens when *he* dies.
[points at a Magician’s Assistant]
Miss Argentina: And that is what happens when *they* die. It’s all very personal. And I’ll tell you something: if I knew then what I know now…
[shows her slit wrists]
Miss Argentina: …I wouldn’t have had my little accident.
Happy 30th Beetlejuice! Let us know your favorite character from the film over on Twitter @NOFSPODCAST, or sound off in our brand new Subreddit!
And – if you want even more of the Ghost with the Most, take our QUIZ – What Beetlejuice Character Are You?