Is Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice the best Halloween movie for design students to watch? | New

Each season has its own set of iconic films, and within that set there are those that stand out for their portrayal and elevation of architectural issues. Tim Burton’s 1988 classic, beetle juice, is perhaps the best example of fall – an ever-fashionable classic Halloween tale that features and offers critique of the salient design trends of the period. Even the scale model of the town has architectural qualities, and its central star – a well-worn Victorian house – has become a inspiration budding designers around the world.

The vanity of beetle juice contains essential elements that design students would be well served to assess. Two families fight for creative control of a structure with radically different agendas. Its conflict is based on a disagreement over residential architectural preferences: the “good solid rustic craftsmanship” of a rural Victorian clashes with an empty amalgamation of 80s design.

Film opening title sequence. Image courtesy of

Aerial snapshot of the town of Little River, CT. Image courtesy of

Filmed in Vermont, the story is set in the fictional town of Little River, Connecticut, which is a rather thinly disguised substitute for the very real and charming literary capital of the state. west cornwall. History can be examined through an architectural lens for two intersections and from the moment the reasons.

The Maitlands’ house before renovation. Image courtesy of

The Maitlands’ home is put up for sale and soon purchased by the Deetz family. Image courtesy of

First, there are the characters from the film, led by local residents Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis). Following their unfortunate demise via proper production of the city’s fake history covered bridgethe young couple’s hopes for a modest renovation are grotesquely reversed when the Yuppie Deetz (Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder) arrive in town ready to turn it into a “summer arts destination” to rival Southampton.

(LR) Delia Deetz, Charles Deetz and Lydia Deetz dine in the original dining room of their new home before the renovation. Image courtesy

Including their former real estate developer father figure, Charles Deetz (Jones), the presence of the new family creates another narrative about gentrification and displacement. They are overly scholarly intruders, intruding on the village, all in search of their own vanity, social standing, and possible financial gain.

Delia Deetz marks a wall with the words “purple” as she and Otho walk through the Maitlands’ house, preparing for the renovation. Image courtesy of

Otho (Glenn Shaddix) is there as a replacement for the design community. His brashness, “Deliver Me from LL Bean,” is characteristic of his role as dedicated personal decorator for the family’s independent curator and art-collecting matriarch Delia Deetz, who looks, like the film from the film Wikipedia entry better said, to remake Maitland’s quaint Victorian residence into a “pastel-toned modern work of art.”

Home renovation scene from the movie. Image courtesy of

View of the addition of the Deetz sun terrace. Image courtesy of

Then there’s the house itself, which set designer Bo Welch has skillfully made appear as if it were an actual construct rather than a staged structure. After Otho’s three-month renovation leaves only his attic unfinished, his vision includes the following:

  • An extended deck without railings with a gable wall painted white to offset the dark interior color scheme.
  • The exposed beams, painted yellow and projecting outward just below the plane of the roof, evoke an exaggerated form communicating the pretensions, wealth and status of its new owners to their neighbors in a time-tested architectural tradition.
  • A completely redesigned kitchen with a stainless steel refrigerator, commercial oven and other high end appliances.

Dining room with a view of the Delia Art Gallery in the background. Image courtesy of

The renovated living room. Image courtesy of
  • Furniture inspired by Shiro Kuramata, Paolo Pallucco and many other synonyms of the time.
  • A glass block wall frames the small sculpture gallery behind the dining area and a dining table lined with faux marble, where the film is most iconic scene takes place.
  • Rough slate interior finishes, a granite slab dining table, illuminated marble railing accents and checkered vinyl flooring.

And the function of these items is entirely for art collector friends. All hope for the preserved salubrity of the house is lost. That is until the Maitlands hire the film’s “freelance bio-exorcist”, played by the handsome Burton. alternate Michael Keaton.

Interior shot of Lydia’s room. Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Lydia’s bedroom is the only soft delineation, opting for dark mauve accents and the original spare design over the post-modern polychrome exterior and upscale decor. You really get the impression that Otho has little patience for her, though their shared ability to connect to the afterlife lasts longer the closer they both get to the third floor attic of the Maitland.

The attic of the house is where the late Maitlands and Lydia see a model of the city built by Adam. Image courtesy of

Whether or not Burton intended to confuse the loudest tastemakers of the decade like Robert Venturi, Peter Eisenmanand Architecture by renovation is an open question.

In the end, everything is restored to its (super)natural order through a mutual understanding that mysteriously returns the house to the taste of its original owners. What you will remember the most beetle juice is the style more than its plot or resolution. It has a timeless quality in line with many other Burton films. Just like the Maitland family, you’ll be stuck in the 80s.

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