Tim Burton has been the mastermind behind several popular movies, but among his most famous is the 1988 film Beetlejuice. It stars Michael Keaton as Betelgeuse, a malicious spirit that helps Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) rid their home of the new family that moved in. It went on to become one of the best afterlife-themed films ever made.
Like most films by Burton, the scriptwriting was top-notch, and the characters were quirky, unique and memorable. They express themselves through a series of memorable quotes that continue to make Beetlejuice the classic that it is, replete with hilarious jokes, satirical irony and memorable one-liners.
Updated by Derek Draven on November 23, 2021, by Derek Draven: Beetlejuice continues to be one of Tim Burton’s most wickedly comedic and over-the-top movies, which says a lot given the director’s wacky directorial style. Michael Keaton and the rest of the cast played some of the most unique characters in a satirical horror comedy show, and each of them had a bevy of excellent quotes that continue to remain fan favorites. It’s time to take a look at a few more that sum up the characters, including a few that even migrated to spinoff media.
He Has A Good Point
“Barb, Honey… We’re Dead. I Don’t Think We Have Much To Worry About Anymore.”
For a couple that had just bought the farm, Adam and Barbara didn’t seem overly upset about it. It was more of an inconvenience, as opposed to a traumatic event. Proof can be seen in a conversation between the two, where Adam muttered this line.
It was a strange and ironic silver-lining statement that showcased how the couple viewed life – and the afterlife – with a glass-half-full attitude. All they really had to contend with was an annoying family muscling in on their home, but the tradeoff was a drastic reduction in daily headaches and life concerns.
“I Know Just As Much About The Supernatural As I Do About Interior Design.”
The character of Otho was a friend of Delia who is working with the Deetz family to redecorate the inside of their new home. He claims to know a lot about the supernatural, which he explains to Delia and Charles after they agreed to have Maxie Dean over to their house.
Otho says, “I know just as much about the supernatural as I do about interior design,” which sums up his personality and talents quite well.
An Iconic Line
“Let’s Turn On The Juice And See What Shakes Loose!”
As unpleasant as the Deetzes are, it made sense why Adam and Barbara wanted them out of their home, no matter the cost. Betelgeuse is creepy enough in his human form, but later in the movie, he transforms into a snake with a giant head to scare the Deetzes.
Right before he goes into the mortal world, he says, “Let’s turn on the juice and see what shakes loose.” The line comes just moments before one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, signaling that this particular ghost isn’t quite like others in the cinematic world.
The Most Memorable Quote
The characters in Beetlejuice are quick to find out that getting help from the titular ghost does more harm than good. Unfortunately, Lydia didn’t have a choice near the end of the film after Otho performed a séance to summon Adam and Barbara. This caused the couple to quickly decay once brought into the mortal world, so Lydia agreed to marry Betelgeuse so that he would save her friends.
After she says “Betelgeuse” for the third time, he stretches out his arms and says, “It’s showtime” as lightning strikes in the background. The line is among the most iconic lines of the film, as well as the family-friendly animated series that debuted shortly after.
At Least He’s Trying To Quit
“I’m Trying To Cut Down, Myself.”
Early on in the film, Adam and Barbara discovered the Handbook for the Recently Deceased and decided to travel to the Netherworld. Once they got there, they discovered a waiting room filled with other folks who died in different ways.
Adam sat down next to a gentleman burnt to a crisp, who offered him a cigarette. Adam said he doesn’t smoke, and the man replied, “I’m trying to cut down myself.” It was an obvious bit of satiric irony.
Betelgeuse’s Sense Of Humor
“I’ve Seen The Exorcist About 167 Times, And It Keeps Getting Funnier Every Single Time I See It!”
Soon after Barbara and Adam realized they were dead, a new family moved into their home. Existing as ghosts, Barbara and Adam wanted the obnoxious family gone so that they could spend eternity in peace. To do so, they hired Betelgeuse, who was advertising himself as a “bio-exorcist.” After saying his name three times, the couple was transported inside Adam’s miniature town, where they looked for Betelgeuse.
When they did find him, Barbara asked what his credentials were, to which Betelgeuse replied, “Well, I attended Julliard, I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen The Exorcist about 167 times and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it! Not to mention the fact that you’re talking to a dead guy. Now what do you think? You think I’m qualified?” It ended up being one of the funniest moments in any Tim Burton film to date.
A Famous Brag
“I’m The Ghost With The Most, Babe!”
One of the first times Lydia interacted with Betelgeuse, the character was tanning from the lights on a strip club in Adam’s miniature town. Lydia came to talk to Betelgeuse and asked if he was a ghost, to which the character replied, “I’m the ghost with the most, babe!” Betelgeuse then tried to get Lydia to say his name three times, to no avail.
The two characters then played charades so that Lydia could figure out his name, which also made for a comedic scene, with Betelgeuse conjuring up a beetle and a carton of orange juice.
A Line That’s Too Relatable
“Never Trust The Living.”
When Adam and Barbara went to see their caseworker Juno, they were chewed out for their recent decisions. Not only did the couple try to get help from Betelgeuse, but they also got photographed by Lydia, and allowed Otho to steal their copy of the Handbook For The Recently Deceased.
Confused as to how Otho got their copy of the book, Juno explained, “Never trust the living.” She was always quite blunt when she talked with Barbara and Adam, but most of the time, she was right.
The Questions A Cinephile Asks
“Are You ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ Under There? Like, All Bloody Veins And Pus?”
Part of the charm of Beetlejuice was the relationship between Adam, Barbara, and Lydia. When Adam and Barbara first tried scaring off the Deetz family, they simply took some sheets and covered themselves to look like ghosts.
Lydia wasn’t scared, remarking “I’m not scared of sheets. Are you gross under there? Are you ‘Night of the Living Dead’ under there? Like, all bloody veins and pus?” Not only did this reference George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but it was the first real interaction between the three, leading to good things later on.
The Banana Boat Song
“I Would Rather Talk About… DAY-O… DAY-O!”
Out of all the scenes in Beetlejuice, the dinner scene featuring the Banana Boat Song is possibly the most well-known. It occurred when Charles invited his business associates over for dinner. The topic of ghosts and the paranormal quickly came up in conversation, with Lydia explaining that she had seen ghosts in their house.
Delia wants to change the subject and says, “I would rather talk about…Day-O… Day-O!” Catherine O’Hara then lip-syncs the Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte as all of the dinner members start dancing uncontrollably. The scene ends with their shrimp dinners turning into hands and grabbing their faces, before throwing them backward.
Lydia On Her Personality
“I Myself Am Strange, And Unusual.”
Lydia, played by Winona Ryder, was a goth teenager who enjoyed photography and showed a special interest in the afterlife, ghosts, and certain things paranormal. It was undoubtedly just a phase, though the eccentric nature of her family might have had something to do with it.
Needless to say, she was thrilled when she realized her house had two ghosts living in it. While explaining to Adam and Barbara how she was able to see them, she told them that the Handbook For The Recently Deceased said that “Live people ignore the strange and unusual,” further revealing, “I myself am strange and unusual.”
A Wicked Witch Reference
“Don’t Mind Her. She’s Still Upset That Somebody Dropped A House On Her Sister.”
Before the infamous musical dinner sequence, the characters were engaged in conversation, while Otho was gloating about how much he knew about the paranormal.
Otho claimed he was one of New York’s leading paranormal researchers, to which Beryl said, “Paranormal, is that what they’re calling your kind these days?” Otho quickly responded with the quip, “Don’t mind her. She’s still upset that somebody dropped a house on her sister,” which is obviously a reference to the Wizard of Oz.
Get The Joke?
“Thanks, I’ve Been Feeling A Little Flat!”
Since Barbara and Adam had trouble adjusting to being dead, they visited their caseworker named Juno, one of Tim Burton’s most underappreciated movie characters. They entered a waiting room, where they met several people who died in horrible ways. They see a smoker who is burned to a crisp, a hunter with a shrunken head, and even a woman cut completely in half.
When it’s time to see Juno, they are called in by a man who looked to have been run over by a semi-truck, since he is completely flat. Adam tells him he looks fine, to which the man responds, “Thanks, I’ve been feeling a little flat.”
A Bit Of A Concerning Quote
“A Little Gasoline… Blowtorch… No Problem!”
Catherine O’Hara’s character in Beetlejuice was very overdramatic and had a passion for modern art. Not caring what her husband or step-daughter wanted, Delia decided to completely redesign their new home. When they first arrived at the Maitlands’ home, Delia and Otho began spray-painting walls that needed to be torn down and thinking of ways to “improve” the house.
At one point Delia said that all she needed was “A little gasoline… blowtorch… no problem.” The character was eccentric, to say the least, and this line was a prime example of that.
Who Does Betelgeuse Relate To?
“The Only One I Think I Can Deal With Is Edgar Allan Poe’s Daughter. I Think She Understands Me.”
This particular quote betrays Betelgeuse’s trickery and penchant for lying in order to get what he wants or misdirect attention away from himself. While the idea of Edgar Allen Poe’s daughter being possibly one of the few who could possibly understand this particular ghost, no such person existed.
In truth, Poe had no known children legitimate or otherwise, though the possibility of the latter might still exist. Whatever the case, it was obvious that Betelgeuse was merely trying to be cheeky and comedic, as opposed to factual.
She Probably Likes It This Way
“My Whole Life Is A Darkroom. One…Big…Dark…Room.”
The fledgling Goth movement in the late ’80s and 1990s is rather comical by today’s standards, driven largely by melodramatic kids trying to cling to an identity group. Lydia demonstrates this with a sense of self-awareness regarding her own self-expression, as evidenced by quotes like this one.
In typical gloomy fashion, Lydia insinuates the dreariness of her own life, despite the fact that she’s a rather happy girl deep down. All it takes is the friendship of Adam and Barbara to turn her frown upside down, but it a lot of unorthodox trial and error to get there.
Asking The Right Questions
“What’s The Good Of Being A Ghost If You Can’t Frighten People Away?”
After Barbara and Adam meet with Juno, they decided they were going to scare the Deetz family away so they could get their home back. They had a few elaborate schemes, including Barbara decapitating Adam and hanging herself in the closet, but they quickly realized the Deetz family can’t see them.
Barbara then exclaims, “What’s the good of being a ghost if you can’t frighten people away?” Whether people believe in ghosts or not, it’s easy to believe that one of the perks of being one would be having the ability to scare people, or at the very least, communicate across the void.
“Coach? I Don’t Think We Survived That Crash!”
Juno was buried in paperwork when Adam and Barbara were called back in to explain their failures at getting the Deetz’s out of their house. Worse, she had to contend with a football team that had seemingly died in a crash, thought Juno was their coach, and couldn’t find the men’s room.
After giving Adam and Barbara some advice, Juno sent them on her way, only to be confronted by the footballers, one of whom uttered this hilarious line. Juno could only smile in slight amusement and reply, “How did you guess?”
Taking Clint Eastwood To The Next Level
“Go Ahead. Make My Millennium!”
After Adam and Barbara realized that Lydia wasn’t like the rest of her family, they didn’t want Betelgeuse to scare her anymore. However, there was no reasoning with the spirit, but Adam and Barbara had a slight advantage in the fact that they weren’t stuck in Adam’s miniature town.
After trying to force him to listen to her, Barbara picks up the little Betelgeuse with her fingers, who grows a set of spikes from his body. After falling to the ground, he stands back up and says, “Go ahead, make my millennium.” The line is a reference to Clint Eastwood’s line “Go ahead, make my day” from Sudden Impact, which only became even more famous after Beetlejuice parodied it.
Betelgeuse The Pottymouth
“Nice F****** Model!”
Shocking and unexpected F-Bombs in PG-13 rated movies can either stun audiences and make them uncomfortable, or cause them to roll over with laughter. Beetlejuice’s particular F-Bomb is one of the latter, and to date, it’s one of the most out-of-nowhere gags in a comedy film meant for families with slightly older children.
It turns out that the ghost with the most doesn’t like being ignored very much, and when the attention has evaporated, he gets quite cranky. He demonstrates this by kicking over one of the little plastic trees in Adam’s miniature town, watching it collapse on its side. He then utters this line before grabbing his groin, finishing off with a loud honking sound that had audiences in stitches.
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