the pitches

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Chris Sully

Title: beetlejuice returns
Directed by: tim burton
Starring: michael keaton, alec baldwin, geena davis, winona ryder, danny devito

20+ years after the events of the first film

We open on the same waiting room where we left off & Beetlejuice’s number has finally been called. He’s called in to meet with his caseworker DeVito, played by none other than Danny DeVito. DeVito looks over his record and, before Beetlejuice can even speak, he “zips” his mouth up with a quick flash of his hand.

“Look ‘B’ – you were warned numerous times that your shenanigans in the after life were going to get you in serious trouble. I tried to help you when you were first deceased (queue the flashback of a young Michael Keaton character first receiving his Handbook for the Recently Deceased and visiting the waiting room 40+ years ago) but you were hellbent on doing your own thing – which was whatever you wanted. And now, here you are.”

“Your punishment is employment here, in the office. Your mouth will remain sealed and your nametag will read Michael. Nobody can call your name and free you, because nobody will ever see or hear it again.’

The office door closes and the camera pulls back, and back, and back, and back.

We bounce to the next scene, where we see Lydia in a beat up old mini-van, driving into the little town of Winter River, Connecticut.  She’s driving and two teenagers (a boy and girl around 15 years old) are riding with her. She’s warning them that things at the house could be strange, but they’ll all have to make the best of living with Grandma and Grandpa.

They arrive, exit the van and head on inside to find that the house looks a lot more like it did at the start of the first film. The kids (Adam and Barbara) head on in, followed by Lydia. They’re greeted by their grandparents Delia and Charles. We clearly see the original Adam and Babs (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are there too, but the kids don’t see them. They never have in all of the previous visits to their grandparents house, but you can tell that the not-so-recently-deceased couple is still a little let down that they are invisible. Lydia smiles at them and mouths “I missed you” where the kids can’t see.

The kids find their rooms upstairs and Lydia catches up with her parents and extended ghost family. They talk about life and death and how things have been going. The “B” word is never said, but it’s revealed that everything has been nice and quiet on that front for a VERY long time. Lydia breathes a sigh of relief and begins to relax about their situation a little. She speaks of her ex-husband and how it was the best move to leave New York with the kids and return to Winter River for a fresh start.

Next day: The kids, being curious teens with not much else to do but complain about the lack of internet and how boring the town is, take it upon themselves to snoop around the house and property. They clearly haven’t been there much and haven’t visited in years. They find the old model of the town in the attic, but quickly write it off and some “old junk.” Lydia comes up the stairs about that time and raises her voice at the kids to get out of the attic and not mess with anything. She sees the model and panics a bit, but all of the devastation caused in the first movie has been repaired and there are no signs of “you know who.”  She breathes another sigh of relief and they leave the attic, locking the door behind them.

Days later, with Lydia off to deal with shopping and big city stuff, the kids take the opportunity to snoop again. Adam and Barbs follow them around the house, but they clearly don’t know it. Up in the attic, our angsty teens look over the model again and peak under a few tarps. They notice a chalk door on the wall and comment about how weird that is. They’re just about to leave, when young Barbara trips over a loose board. She catches herself and angrily kicks the flooring where the board had worked its way up slightly. As she does this, the edge of a piece of paper, long since forgotten, peaks up from between the floorboards. They open it to reveal it is the Betelgeuse flyer that had fallen from the handbook.

The original Adam and Barbara panic when they see the flyer & fly down the stairs to get Delia and Charles to stop the kids from causing any trouble. About that time, Lydia returns home to find a full blown panic and everyone starting to head upstairs, but it’s too late. They can hear the kids utter it once, then twice, then three times and everything freezes. Then we abruptly change scenes.

Back at the waiting room, Beetlejuice feels a surge go through his body, then his heads goes back to normal size, then the zipper disappears from his mouth. He lets out a “I’m Back Baby” and disappears from the office. He instantly reappears in the living room of the house, now wearing his tuxedo from the wedding ceremony in the first film, where he sees everyone darting up the stairs and belts out a big “Miss me?” Everyone remains frozen, seemingly under his control. Beetlejuice says “I’ve had plenty of time to wrap the ol’ brain around what I’d do in the event I ever got out of office hell, and now here I am. – Ready to try this marriage thing again lydia?”

A couple of flips of the wrist and a snap later, the fireplace increases in size and our little little preacher friend reappears, then Lydia finds herself in that red wedding dress again. Beetlejuice is just about to make another big, bold statement when Adam suddenly unfreezes and turns to face Beetlejuice, who seems shocked. Adam says “You’re not the only one that had some time on his hands. I’ve learned a few tricks too.”

A crazy battle ensues, with each of the deceased fighting back and forth with one another, each creating bigger, crazier snakes and creatures and insane structures outta nothing. This gives everyone else, now somehow unfrozen, a chance to join the kids upstairs in the attic. They of course have no idea what is happening. Lydia tries to calm them, but she’s also mad as hell and trying to figure out what she can do to help.

That’s when Babs speaks up and, at the same time, the kids suddenly see her. Something about the terror in the moment heightened their senses and made them aware of her presence and the noises coming from the war waging downstairs. Babs begins to recite that name again, while standing in front of the model : “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.” POOF! The house goes quiet and Beetlejuice appears in the model again, but this time he’s trapped in a glass jar. Babs quickly grabs a lid and seals him in, like a child collecting fireflies, but there are no holes in the lid of this container. About that time, Adam appears, standing beside her.

About that time, the old chalk door on the wall opens up and DeVito steps through “Congratulations Maitlands – you’ve done it! I told you he’d try something like this and you handled it like pros – pros I tell ya!” Adam and Babs are very proud of themselves. Babs then asks “so, you gonna follow through on what you promised?”

DeVito responds “Sure, I can bring you back. You’ve earned it.” With that statement and a change in demeanour, DeVito snaps his fingers, the couple disappears and then DeVito heads back through the door.

Lydia shouts out “Where did they go? Adam? Babs?” A “Yes?” comes from her kids in unison. Lydia says “No, not you.” Adam responds again – “Yeah, it actually is us. Somehow, we’re in your kids bodies.”

Without all the detail I’ve provided so far – Turns out DeVito couldn’t quite deliver what he promised the Maitlands, so he improvised and let them possess the kids bodies.

It’s revealed by Beetlejuice (through the jar) that he and DeVito had never really gotten along, and DeVito had decided to go rogue after reading up on all the fun that Beetlejuice had been having over the years. Only problem was, he would have had to compete with Beetlejuice, but that was handled now with him in a jar.

So everyone’s caught in quite the pickle. They can’t let Beetlejuice out, because they know he’ll double cross them, but the Maitalnds are trapped in the kids and DeVito is on the loose.

It seems the only way to resolve their issues is to help Beetlejuice find a Recently Deceased to call his name so he can take out DeVito and then find his bride to bring him into the living world.

So, a new plan is hatched and everyone heads to the hospital, where they are sure they can find a fresh spirit to chant his name again. They quickly realise the plan will be trickier than planned. DeVito has really amped up the afterlife marketing game – his commercials, flyers and magazines have taken over the hospital. The BeetleSquad (as he references them many times) stands no hope there, so they head off to an old folks home. Sadly, DeVito was one step ahead and was marketing there too. Eventually though, the BeetleSquad is able to find a newly deceased who hasn’t seen the DeVito ads and convince them to say the name three times.

His name is called three times and Beetlejuice appears in full form again. He performs a quick exorcism, freeing the Maitlands and then turns his attention on his new bride. He’s in his tux, married and POOF – gone, before anyone can hardly say a word.

We fast forward several months to what seems like a normal life for the Maitlands & Dietz. Lydia and the kids are getting back on their feet and moving to another house they found in a nearby town at an amazing price. On moving day, they are getting the final items in the house when a next door neighbor appears to offer a helping hand. We don’t see his face, as the conversation happens with the camera behind his head.

Lydia greets the man and shakes his hand. He introduces himself as Douglas Michael. Lydia has a very strange look on her face and asks “Have we met before?” Douglas says “no, I don’t believe I’ve had the honor” and then turns to the camera and says “this’ll be fun” as we realize that it is Michael Keaton, with no Beetlejuice makeup. He’s fully alive now, but he remembers everything and he’s clearly not done with Lydia.

Title: beetlejuice 2: the deetzes and the dead
Directed by: francis lawrence
Starring: helena bonham carter as mary, laura dern as mrs. bones, alec baldwin, geena davis, michael keaton, catherine o’hara, jeffrey jones, winona ryder

We start on an overhead view of Adam Maitland’s town model. Through a stop-motion timelapse we watch the changes to Winter River over the last 34 years. It’s slow at first, a new building or two, then some restaurants and shopping plazas, then fields are cleared for a business park.

A section of main street is reconfigured for night clubs and bars while a forest is torn down and replaced with a neighborhood and a school. Gradually it all transforms until finally the church is being demolished. We steadily zoom in until the model becomes the real town and we see a woman watching the steeple topple. It crashes behind a newly-posted sign: ‘Another fantastic project coming from Deetz Properties.’ The woman Mary scowls, murderous hate in her eyes. She curses the Deetz name as we dissolve to the ghoulish face of a statue.

We see statue after statue of monsters and tortured souls, each molded from clay and stone or welded metal. A large demon-like visage is alight with fresh sparks as new welds are added to the work in progress. The welder steps back and pulls up her face shield. It’s Delia Deetz.

She smiles and shouts the name Dead Clampett. Adam (a CGI representation of young Alec Baldwin) floats through the wall and is startled by the metal demon. Delia asks if he likes it, suggesting it will go very well in the new Charles Deetz memorial wing of the museum.

Adam says, “Let’s see,” and with a wave of his hand makes a miniature duplicate of the statue and places it into the open roof of a small building he’s holding. “Looks good to me,” he says, but questions her tearing down a church to build the new wing.

She says the podunks can worship God anywhere and Charlies taught her never to pass up prime real estate, plus the statue and the building will make a better reminder to everyone just who and what put Winter River on the map, The Deetzes and the Dead.

Adam meanwhile appears shook by the familiarity of the demon, asking where Delia got the idea. She says it was in one of the silly afterlife books the Maitlands brought over. Adam says Delia shouldn’t be taking those without asking. He’s noticed several are missing. Delia says Lydia probably has them at her hotel.

Cutting to Lydia, we see her cleaning up a hotel room when a young girl wanders up to her. Lydia picks her up for a hug and the girl’s head falls off. The head laughs and Lydia says it’s not funny, but laughs with her, then playfully berates the girl for missing her queues. Lydia says the last couple left the hotel upset because their room wasn’t haunted as promised. The girl apologizes saying she sometimes forgets to do what Lydia asks. Lydia forgives her and exits the room.

She passes several more ghosts on the way back to the lobby, interacting with each as we showcase the variety of their deaths (stabbed, set on fire, crushed into a cube by a car crusher). They all seem to work at the hotel for Lydia, but she notices one of them is missing. One of the ghosts says Skydive Sam hasn’t been around for days and no one knows where he’s gone.

When she gets to the lobby, two professionally-dressed folks are waiting for her, except one is purple and the other is Beetlejuice. He’s still putrid, but his hair is combed and his suit is conservatively black. He tries to flirt with Lydia and crack some disgusting jokes but is put in check each time by his companion, a purple-skinned bureaucrat named Mrs. Bones who slams a contract down onto the lobby counter.

Bones is cross with Lydia, stating they had an agreement that the ghosts could serve out sentences in her hotel with Lydia’s adherence to certain rules. Lydia says she’s followed all the rules and Beetlejuice mocks her, then Bones slaps a muzzle on her partner. Beetlejuice looks defeated. Bones says one of Lydia’s ghosts was found in the lost souls room, apparently exorcised from the plane of the living. Lydia says she doesn’t know anything about it but she’ll see what she can find out. Bones and Beetlejuice leave.

That night in Mary’s bedroom, the woman who hates the Deetzes, we see she is visited by a ghost. It’s Charles Deetz and he tells Mary her exorcism worked. He says if she keeps it up then all the ghosts can be sent away and Winter River can return to the living. He swears he’s sorry for what he and his family did to the town and he wants to set things right. Mary, clutching an old book, says she’s very happy she can help. The title of the book in her hands is ‘Managing the Dead: When Peaceful Co-Existence Fails. From the author of Handbook for the Recently Deceased.’

Mary recruits some other disgruntled church-goers and town residents who want the Deetzes gone. They protest outside the hotel and at the new construction site, and late at night they hold ceremonies to exorcise Lydia’s friends. Lydia can’t figure out what’s happening, the afterlife bureaucrats led by Mrs. Bones aren’t helping. When the little ghost girl disappears, Lydia becomes desperate. With the help of the Maitlands, she travels to find Beetlejuice, a man she knows was once not afraid to live by his own rules.

Beetlejuice says his power was taken from him after the sandworm incident and she has to help him get it back. She asks if he means to marry her again and he says no. He’s got his eye on someone else, but Lydia will need to perform her own ritual to bring back the ghost with the most. Against her better judgment, fearing once again for the loss of her ghost friends, Lydia agrees and Beetlejuice is his mischievous self once again. To confirm it, she calls his name three times.

With Beetlejuice’s help, they figure out Mary is behind the ghostly shenanigans, but Charles warns her. Charles tells her she needs to change up her ritual to gather the souls as protection rather than sending them away. Adam meanwhile reads more on the demon that inspired Delia’s sculpture and sees that the demon, Grazen, can be brought into existence with an accumulation of enough souls and a living sacrifice before the demon’s physical visage, aka a statue. Suspecting the demon is about to be resurrected, he and Barbara risk leaving the house to warn Lydia.

Mary is at the construction site of the former church where Delia’s statue is already in place. Led by Beetlejuice, Lydia arrives to see Mary with Charles, her father. She is struck by grief and anger.

Why did he not visit her and Delia? Why is he with Mary? Charles is enraged and restrains Lydia. Adam and Barbara arrive via sandworm and explain what’s happening, and they don’t think it’s the real Charles Deetz. Adam reads from a book which reveals the demon’s true face.

Grazen tells Mary these ghosts are trying to stop the good they’re doing and has her repeat the ritual which absorbs the Maitlands souls into the Grazen statue. He then tells her it’s her turn to sacrifice herself and Mary is taken aback. She didn’t know that was needed and doesn’t want to do it.

Beetlejuice calls Grazen over to talk about the frustrations of working with the living and tells him he knows a thing or two about getting them to do what he wants. He says he’ll help Grazen if Grazen helps him and the demon agrees. Beetlejuice performs the same ritual Lydia did for him which gives Grazen the ability to possess and manipulate the living. Grazen then goes inside Mary and forces her hands. She is going to cut her throat before the metal statue, but Beetlejuice shouts. “Hey, you’re supposed to help me too, remember?” Grazen laughs. “You can be my slave, just like these other mortals.”

“Going back on your word?” asks Beetlejuice.

“Never trust a demon, Beetleman.”

“Good advice, but you should never forget a name. There’s a lot of power in a name.”

“The whole world will know my name.”

“No, Grazen. The last person to ever say your name, Grazen, (Beetlejuice looks over at Lydia with a wink. She understands what’s happening and winks back) is a handsome bio-exorcist who hates demons almost as much as he hates the living. By the way. That statue of yours is on holy ground. Good luck escaping eternity, Grazen.”

Grazen looks shocked. He is pulled into the statue before Beetlejuice crushes it into the earth. Delia arrives in time to scream about the violation of her art. Grazen is defeated, but Lydia is crying. The Maitlands are gone as are her other ghost friends, and she’s distraught and confused over the site of her father. Beetlejuice says her dad had moved on long ago. He was never a tortured soul. The others will be around somewhere and he’ll work with Mrs. Bones to find them.

Lydia talks with Delia about closing the hotel and restoring the church. She thinks they can better honor Charles and the Deetz name by letting Winter River return to being a sleepy, boring town. “I think we’ve haunted this place enough.”

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