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Oscar Horrors: Makeup for the Recently Deceased

Daily Oscar Horrors until Halloween!

HERE LIES...Beetlejuice which heard its name repeated just once at the 1988 Oscars when it won Robert Short, Steve LaPorte and Ve Neill the award for Best Achievement in Makeup, banishing Scrooged and Coming to America to play with the sandworms.

Michael C. here. As a child of the Eighties I spent my formative years inundated with every variety of gore, slasher, and massacre Hollywood could throw at me, and yet it was this zany ghost story, more comedy than horror, that succeeded in getting under my skin where so many so many escaped mental patients failed. Such is the ability of a little twisted imagination to triumph over buckets of blood. There was just something about the sight of Alec Baldwin popping eyeballs on his fingers like so many olives that never failed to creep my seven-year old self out. Tim Burton knows - or at least used to know - that there is excitement in skirting the line between enjoyably goofy and genuinely unsettling. (See also: Large Marge)

There are many moments in Beetlejuice for the makeup team to show off. There is the rotting of Baldwin and Davis during the exorcism, the general moldiness of the title character and the hilariously slow-on-the-uptake football team ("Coach, I don't think we survived the crash.")

Best Most Fun Achievements in MakeUp

A big reason I harbor such affection for this work is that it never for a second attempts anything approaching realism. The makeup team aims instead for the more admirable goal of being fun. Keaton's look as Beetlejuice, for example, is so unapologetically theatrical with his fright wig hair and the dark circles around his eyes that he wouldn't be out of place in a silent movie. 

But this is to the film's credit, and why the Oscar was justly awarded. The creative character design of Beetlejuice is still fondly remembered while thousands of more technically impressive ghoulies have blended together into a late-night cable blur.

Oh, and I can't be the only one who has always wanted to see this from Adam and Barbara's point of view, right?


Beetlejuice costume ideas for Halloween
Makeup and Hair posts 
"80s Oscars" articles
Previously on Oscar Horrors

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Reader Comments (9)

i love this movie. thanks for covering it. Tim Burton movies were just so FUN for the first 10 years. Effortful fun, what they became, is just not fun.

another thing i really like about this movie's makeup and hair, which surely didn't go into its oscar nomination (given the history of the category and what it shows about their taste) is how great the makeup and hair work is on the non-supernatural people too. Winona's whole look in that movie definitely addded to her burgeoning IT GIRL celebrity and what else can you say about the Catherine O'Hara looks than "perfection"?

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

God I hope they make a sequel to this...I think the original cast would be totally game for another go...maybe adding Tim's muse Johnny Depp to spar with Keaton might be quite amusing...and it might just spark Tim's quirky creativity again.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSoSueMe

This is entirely off topic, but I just rewatched Beetlejuice and I noticed how much Catherine O'Hara kicks ass during the Day-O sequence. Presumably the ghosts are controlling everyone in the scene equally, but she can't hide just how much harder she is rocking her moves than everyone else.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C

You're not the only one Michael - I wanted to see it, too (Beetlejuice's face when it splits open.) But what makes it funny (rather than horrifying) is exactly that we don't. I had forgotten this film, to be honest, and forgotten how much I enjoyed it at the time, how much I loved Catherine O-Hara (perfection) in it, that I enjoyed repeat viewings back in the day. Burton was capable of such a lightness of touch then. Where in the hell did that ever go? Sucked in by the supernova of his fame and ego?

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

This was perhaps the favorite film of my youth

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZach


Would love to see a sequel to Beetlejuice, but if they hire Johnny Depp, Winona might drop out. The two were an item back in the day and were madly in love, to the point of becoming engaged. Johnny even had "Winona Forever" tattoed on his chest. When the relationship ended, he surgically had the 'n' and the 'a' removed, so it now reads "Wino Forever" on him!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlinking Cursor

Ooh...forgot about their relationship...regardless, still hoping for a Depp-Keaton sequel.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSoSueMe

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thank you

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertiffany501

How nice to see the interest still there for our work.
"Beetlejuice" was one of those Lightening in a Bottle
experiences. All the stars were aligned perfectly.
The actors, Tim B. at just the right time in his climb to
The top. Michael K. Was just known enough but not a
household name. Several months ago , Ve & I reprised
the "Juice" makeup on an excellent double for
drew a huge crowd. What fun to be credited for
Creating a favorite "Comedy/Horror" icon.
To be nominated for an Oscar with Tom Burman & Rick
Baker as rivals was such an honor for me. Both gentlemen are directly
Responsible for helping me enter the business &
Tom has always been a mentor to me. Ve & I have continued a
Long friendship. I love that people want more of
"Beetlejuice" & if a sequel was to be made it would be fun to do
but alas the players have changed, technology & budgets
Have skyrocketed. I think what made the original so special was the
magic , luck & timing we all had at that moment in time.
Every time someone asks me what film I got an Oscar for, the response
Is always met with a smile & " I loved that film".
What more can one ask for.

November 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve LaPorte
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