Articles for Horror: Beetlejuice

Plot summary of the 1988 movie “Beetlejuice.”



Photo of Beetlejuice himself as he’s trying to give the Maitlands an offer.

Autumn Castle, Staff Writer


Who was Beetlejuice?

Beetlejuice, also known as Betelgeuse, was a mischievous ghost. He was the main antagonist of the “Beetlejuice” film. 

Beetlejuice was a very rude and very womanizing ghost. As he constantly invaded people in real life, he was viewed as a bad person when he was alive. He also appeared to be a very selfish ghost, because his main goal was to lift his curse and get out no matter what happened to other people in the process.

Beetlejuice was over 600 years old, meaning that he had been trying to escape for centuries with no success.

Who were Adam and Barbara Maitland?

Adam Maitland was the husband of Barbara Maitland. He owned and operated the Maitland Hardware Store. Adam was a polite man who wanted to show kindness to everyone he met. His hobby was creating realistic sculptures until he and his wife died in a car accident. 

When he first became a ghost, their house got sold and the new owners had already started to change the entire look of the house. So as a ghost, he decided he wanted to scare the new owners out to be able to keep the peace at his beautiful house.

When Barbara was alive, she spent a lot of time decorating their home while her husband was working on his sculptures in their attic. She also tried to start a family and failed when she was alive, and even as a ghost, she had a love for children, and was drawn close to Lydia Deetz.

Who was Lydia Deetz?

Lydia Deetz was the daughter of Charles Deetz and the stepdaughter of Delia Deetz. She was seen as just a “goth” girl who Beetlejuice planned on marrying so he could go back to the living world.

Lydia was a serious but nice girl who felt isolated because of her parents. Her father and stepmother did not take anything she said seriously, and would only ignore her; unless they wanted something from her. Lydia loved writing poetry, taking photographs, and anything supernatural and paranormal. 

What was “Beetlejuice”?

The film starts in a town in New England, where Barbara and Adam Maitland head out to town to get supplies for their house. On their way home, they swerved to avoid a dog, which drove them into a river where they drowned.

As they were left without a memory of how they got home, they weren’t aware they had died. Adam goes outside to figure out how they got back without a memory of how or when, but finds himself out in a strange desert with large striped sandworms. When he made it back to the house, Barbara said he was gone for two hours and showed him a book that was on their table; the “Handbook for the Recently Deceased.”

Soon the house was sold again to the Deetz family, a New York family consisting of Charles, Delia, and their daughter Lydia ⎯ a family with a much different architectural taste from the Maitlands. While Charles wishes for a quiet life from New York’s busy and loud streets, Delia couldn’t stand not living in New York, so she hired a decorator named Otho to make it better for her to live in.

Adam and Barbara try to scare the Deetzes, before their house gets turned upside down by the decorators. The issue stood that the living couldn’t see the dead. To get some peace, Adam hid up in the attic with Barbara and locked the door, but Lydia found a skeleton key and tried to open the door. 

As Adam and Barbara prevented her attempt to open the attic door, a TV in the attic turned on and advertised the service of someone named Beetlejuice, who claimed to know how to really scare the living. 

They turned to the handbook, and Adam created a door that took him and Barbara to a waiting room in the afterlife. They were taken to a special room, which showed their home after it was newly decorated by Delia and Otho. They were then introduced to their caseworker Juno, and he criticized them for their haunting methods and told them to never take advice from the person they saw on TV.

When they went back to the house, Adam and Barbara dressed up in sheets and tried to scare Charles and Delia, but their attempt failed again. Lydia was annoyed with the spooky noises, so she set out to find the cause but found them and the two became excited when they realized Lydia can see them as ghosts.

The Maitlands asked Lydia to help them get the Deetzes out of their house. Barbara then noticed something in the model of the town Adam had built; a glowing light around a small grave that belonged to Beetlejuice. She said his name three times, and she and Adam were sucked into the model, where they dug up Beetlejuice’s body. As a result, they regret their choice, since Beetlejuice was a crazy and insane ghost. So instead they attempt to get rid of the family themselves.

At a dinner party, Delia wanted to show her sculptures and art pieces. Everyone at the party stood up and started singing “The Banana Boat Song.” The couple thought they’d finally succeeded, only to realize they actually enjoyed it and wanted them to become their entertainment. The Deetzes send Lydia to ask them to come down and when they refuse, they demand that the Maitlands come out but they couldn’t see them. However, Charles loved the miniature model of the town, and Otho found and took the handbook.

With new inspiration for a project, Charles left the attic. His idea of a new business from the miniature town has entranced him. Although that doesn’t last for long, because he is shaken with fear when Beetlejuice pops out as a giant snake; scaring the family by throwing Otho down the stairs and pushing Charles to the floor below. Barbara gets the snake to stop by saying Beetlejuice’s name three times. Lydia thought the snake was the Maitlands wanting to do more than just scare them.

Lydia had written a suicide note after the situation with Beetlejuice but when she went to the attic to say goodbye, Beetlejuice was there. He attempted to trick her into saying his name three times which almost worked, until Adam and Barabra came up into the attic. She explained that she wanted to die and Barabra talked her out of it and said that they were done trying to scare the family away.

Otho and Charles then appeared in the attic and the three of them hid. Otho and Charles carried Adam’s model of the town downstairs, where Charles’ business associate Maxie Deen saw the town and Charles’ plan to turn the town into a paranormal-themed attraction. Charles also asked Lydia to ask the Maitlands to scare their guests, but when she said no, Otho explained that he could.

Using the handbook and their wedding clothes, Otho performed a seance that forced them to come before them. This, however, caused them to deteriorate. Lydia then rushed to the model and saw Beetlejuice in the graveyard. She begged him to help her. Beetlejuice agreed on the condition that Lydia had to marry him. She agreed ⎯ Barabra and Adam were saved. Beetlejuice then tries to marry Lydia, and takes Charles and Delia as hostages as “witnesses.”

Both Adam and Barbara stop Beetlejuice and save Lydia. In the end, the Maitlands and the Deetzes both owned the house, and Lydia was much happier with this.

How successful was “Beetlejuice”?

Beetlejuice was known as a critical and commercial success, earning $73.7 million from a budget of $15 million. It won an Academy Award for Best Makeup and three Saturn Awards, and is now in production of a second movie.