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15 Things You Might Not Know About Beetlejuice

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Thanks to its bonkers blend of comedy and horror, Beetlejuice became an instant hit with audiences when it was released in 1988—and even more so over the years, as younger viewers have discovered it on television and DVD. The movie also helped to establish Tim Burton, who made his feature directorial debut with Pee-wee's Big Adventure in 1985, as one of Hollywood's most unique new artists. But there were plenty of obstacles that came with bringing this ghost with the most to the big screen, as well as some stellar benefits to its success. As the news spreads that a long-talked-about sequel to the film is finally, actually (hopefully) happening, we're looking back at some fun facts about the cult classic that started it all.

1. EARLY DRAFTS OF THE SCRIPT WERE FAR LESS WHIMSICAL.

Screenwriter Michael McDowell's original script was far darker than the final script, which was rewritten by screenwriters Larry Wilson and Warren Skaaren. Originally it imagined Beetlejuice as a winged demon whose human form was that of a small Middle Eastern man, and his plan for the Deetzes was more about rape and murder than mischief and marriage. Also, the Maitlands’ car crash was far more gruesome.

2. AN EARLY DRAFT OFFERED A MAITLAND HOME FOR EVERYONE.

The original ending of McDowell’s screenplay had Beetlejuice being destroyed by an exorcism and the Maitlands’ house shrinking down to the size of Adam's model town. Instead of sharing their home with the Deetz family, they move into the model house and renovate it to look like their full-scale version did before the family arrived. Also, the Deetz parents move back to New York, leaving Lydia to be raised by the Maitlands in Connecticut.

3. BURTON WANTED SKAAREN TO BRING SOME PLAYFULNESS AND MUSIC TO THE SCRIPT.

Part of the rewrites by Warren Skaaren included specific music suggestions, like Lydia lip-syncing to Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." The final film substituted R&B songs for calypso music like Harry Belafonte’s hits "Day-O" and "Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora).”

4. SAMMY DAVIS JR. WAS BURTON'S FIRST CHOICE FOR BEETLEJUICE.

Director Tim Burton reportedly wanted Rat Pack-member Sammy Davis Jr.—who was 63-years-old at the time—to play Beetlejuice. Producer David Geffen suggested actor Michael Keaton, who was ultimately chosen and would go on to appear in two other Burton films: Batman and Batman Returns.

5. IT'S AN OSCAR WINNER.

Makeup artists Ve Neill, Steve LaPorte, and Robert Short won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Makeup.

6. ANJELICA HUSTON WAS VERY NEARLY DELIA DEETZ.

Anjelica Huston was originally cast to play Delia Deetz, but had to bow out due to an illness. Actress Catherine O’Hara initially declined Burton’s offer for the part, but accepted after Burton flew out to meet with and personally to convince her to take it. O'Hara met—and eventually married—production designer Bo Welch while working on Beetlejuice.

7. GEENA DAVIS and MICHAEL KEATON NEEDED NO CONVINCING.

Both Geena Davis and Michael Keaton immediately signed on to the film after meeting with Burton, but he allegedly had to beg Golden Age Hollywood star Sylvia Sidney to play the afterlife detective, Juno. Sidney would go on to work with Burton again on her last film, the 1996 alien invasion comedy Mars Attacks! Sidney passed away in 1999.

8. LYDIA WAS A ROLE LOTS OF INGÉNUES REJECTED.

Actresses Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Justine Bateman, Molly Ringwald, and Jennifer Connelly are among the young actresses who allegedly turned down the role of Lydia Deetz. Juliette Lewis auditioned, but Winona Ryder won the part once Burton saw her performance in the teen dramedy Lucas.

9. BEETLEJUICE WAS NEARLY CALLED SCARED SHEETLESS.

Warner Bros. executives didn’t like the name Beetlejuice and pushed to have it changed to House Ghosts. Burton jokingly suggested Scared Sheetless as an alternate name, and was appalled when Warner Bros. actually considered it.

10. BEETLEJUICE WAS NAMED AFTER A STAR.

Beetlejuice was named for Betelgeuse, a star in the constellation Orion.

11. "DAY-O" PLAYED AT OTHO'S REAL-LIFE FUNERAL.

Harry Belafonte’s song “Day-O,” which is in the film’s memorable song and dance number, was the final song played at the memorial for actor Glenn Shadix (who played Otho in the film), who passed away in 2010.

12. BEETLEJUICE IS BARELY IN HIS OWN MOVIE.

Beetlejuice only appears in 17.5 minutes of the 92-minute film.

13. TEST AUDIENCES ENCOURAGED A HAPPIER ENDING FOR BEETLEJUICE.

Test audiences responded to Keaton's green-haired ghoul so well that Burton's team went back to create an upbeat epilogue that featured Beetlejuice hassling a sawed-in-half woman before being hexed by a witch doctor. An earlier draft had him stuck in the Maitlands' model town and plagued by sandworms.

14. BEETLEJUICE INSPIRED AN ANIMATED SERIES.

A cartoon spinoff of Beetlejuice ran for 94 episodes. The show completely reimagined the relationship between Lydia Deetz and the titular character, with Beetlejuice taking her on wild adventures in the "Neitherworld." The Maitlands don't exist in this spinoff, but Lydia got a cast of classmates as well as ghoulish friends like a skeleton bodybuilder and a tap-dancing spider.

15. A BEETLEJUICE SEQUEL IS IN THE WORKS—AGAIN! NO, REALLY!

The box office success of Beetlejuice inspired the development of a sequel in 1990 called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. However, Batman Returns became Burton's priority at the time, and the sequel's prospects went cold until 2011, when Warner Bros. hired Dark Shadows scribe Seth Grahame-Smith to produce a new take on Beetlejuice 2, with Keaton, Ryder, and Burton all in talks to become involved in the potential sequel.

But years passed and the project was only teased until December 2014, when the rumor mill started buzzing once again after Tim Burton told IGN: “There is a script, and I would love to work with [Michael Keaton] again. I think there is now a better chance than ever … I miss that character. There’s something that’s cathartic and amazing about it. I think it’s closer than ever.”

Now, adding fuel to the excitement, Winona Ryder told Seth Meyers: “I think I can confirm it. It was very hush-hush top secret … but then [Tim Burton] was doing some press for Big Eyes and and he did an on-camera interview and he said, ‘Oh yeah, we’re doing it, and Winona’s going to be in it.’ ... If he said it, I can say it.”

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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5 Killer Pieces of Rock History Up for Auction Now (Including Prince’s Guitar)
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Karrah Kobus/NPG Records via Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of rock history, now is the time. A whole host of cool music memorabilia from the 20th century is going up for sale through Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles as part of its “Icons and Idols” sale. If you’ve got the dough, you can nab everything from leather chairs from Graceland to a shirt worn by Jimi Hendrix to never-before-available prints that Joni Mitchell signed and gave to her friends. Here are five highlights from the auction:

1. ELVIS’S NUNCHUCKS

Elvis’s nunchucks
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Elvis’s karate skills sometimes get a bad rap, but the King earned his first black belt in 1960, and went on to become a seventh-degree black belt before opening his own studio in 1974. You can cherish a piece of his martial arts legacy in the form of his nunchaku. One was broken during his training, but the other is still in ready-to-use shape. (But please don’t use it.) It seems Elvis wasn’t super convinced of his own karate skills, though, because he also supposedly carried a police baton (which you can also buy) for his personal protection.

2. PRINCE’S GUITAR

A blue guitar used by Prince
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Prince’s blue Cloud guitar, estimated to be worth between $60,000 and $80,000, appeared on stage with him in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The custom guitar was made just for Prince by Cloud’s luthier (as in, guitar maker) Andy Beech. The artist first sold it at a 1994 auction to benefit relief efforts for the L.A. area’s devastating Northridge earthquake.

3. KURT COBAIN’S CHEERLEADER OUTFIT

Kurt Cobain wearing a cheerleader outfit in the pages of Rolling Stone
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

The Nirvana frontman wore the bright-yellow cheerleader’s uniform from his alma mater, J.M. Weatherwax High School in Aberdeen, Washington, during a photo shoot for a January 1994 issue of Rolling Stone, released just a few months before his death.

4. MICHAEL JACKSON’S WHITE GLOVE

A white glove covered in rhinestones
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

A young Michael Jackson wore this bejeweled right-hand glove on his 1981 Triumph Tour, one of the first of many single gloves he would don over the course of his career. Unlike later incarnations, this one isn’t a custom-made glove with hand-sewn crystals, but a regular glove topped with a layer of rhinestones cut into the shape of the glove and sewn on top.

The auction house is also selling a pair of jeans the star wore to his 2003 birthday party, as well as other clothes he wore for music videos and performances.

5. WOOD FROM ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS

A piece of wood in a frame under a picture of The Beatles
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

You can’t walk the halls of Abbey Road Studios, but you can pretend. First sold in 1986, the piece of wood in this frame reportedly came from Studio Two, a recording space that hosted not only The Beatles (pictured), but Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and others.

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5 Dubious Historical Antidotes for Poison (and What Actually Works)
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An artificial bezoar stone from Goa, India
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

When it comes to their health, humans will believe just about anything. In this extract from the new book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, authors Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen discuss some of the more questionable ways people once tried to protect themselves from poison—whether or not the methods actually worked.

Poison is everywhere. Naturally or unnaturally, it can be in the soil (arsenic), in the air (carbon monoxide), in your drinks (lead), and in your food (cyanide). With so much danger around, it’s no wonder humans have obsessed over finding a universal antidote—the one thing that could save us from all toxins. Imagine you’re a medieval prince about to inherit the throne. Chances are, there are a lot of power-hungry wannabes waiting in the wings. A little arsenic or hemlock might be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Just in case, best have an antidote on standby.

For millennia, a certain amount of magical thinking was employed when arming oneself against poison because science was inconveniently slow to catch up. So grab your handy unicorn horn and a bezoar, and let’s take a look.

1. BEZOARS

Bezoars have been used for centuries as antidotes to poisons. A bezoar is solid mass of undigested food, plant fibers, or hair found in the digestive tracts of animals, including deer, porcupines, fish, and, yes, humans. Anyone with a cat is familiar with the less-cool feline version: hairballs.

Bezoars and other stone-like items created by animals often had a good story behind them. Legends told of deer that would eat poisonous snakes and become immune or cry tears that solidified into poison-curing stones. First-century Arabic author al-Birumi claimed bezoars could protect against one poison called “the snot of Satan,” which we hope never ever to encounter. By the 12th century, when Europe became plagued with, uh, plagues, the bezoar crept into pharmacopeias as panaceas and alexipharmics (poison antidotes).

Bezoars were a seductive notion for the rich and royal, who were at risk of assassination. The stones were often enclosed in bejeweled gold for display or worn as amulets. Indian bezoars, in particular, were sought for life-threatening fevers, poisonous bites, bleeding, jaundice, and melancholy. Consumers were also known to scrape off a bit of bezoar and add it to their drinks for heart health and kidney stones. These tonics were sometimes adulterated with toxic mercury or antimony, which caused vomiting and diarrhea, making buyers think they were effective.

But were they? One team of researchers soaked bezoars in an arsenic-laced solution and found that the stones absorbed the arsenic or that the poison was neutralized. Hard to say if it worked well enough to cure a fatal dose. Ambroise Paré, one of the preeminent French physicians of the 16th century, was also a doubter. The king’s cook, who’d been stealing silver, was given the choice between hanging or being Paré’s lab rat. He chose the latter. After the cook consumed poison, Paré looked on as a bezoar was stuffed down his throat. Six hours later, he died wracked with pain. Perhaps he chose ... poorly?

2. MITHRIDATES

This antidote was named after Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus and Armenia Minor. Born in 134 BCE, he pretty much invented the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by consuming poisons daily to prevent his own assassination. His royal home was stocked with stingray spines, toxic mushrooms, scorpions, mineral poisons, and a poisonous plant–filled garden. He was so unpoisonable that after his son took over his kingdom and he faced execution, he couldn’t even commit suicide by poison! He begged a guard to stab him to death. (It worked.)

Though the king’s actual recipe for the antidote is nowhere to be found, versions began to circulate after his death, and they became synonymous with the king himself. Compounds with lengthy and expensive ingredient lists prevailed, including iris, cardamom, anise, frankincense, myrrh, ginger, and saffron. In the first century, Pliny the Elder snarkily remarked, “The Mithridatic antidote is composed of fifty-four ingredients ... Which of the gods, in the name of Truth, fixed these absurd proportions? ... It is plainly a showy parade of the art, and a colossal boast of science.”

Showy or not, people would take the extensive mix of herbs, pound them together with honey, and eat a nut-sized portion to cure themselves. At least it endowed them with expensive-smelling breath.

3. HORNS

An apothecary shop sign in the shape of a unicorn
An ivory pharmacy sign in the shape of a unicorn's head
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Unicorn horns have been considered a part of antidote legend since the mythical beast galloped into literature around 300 BCE. For centuries afterward, real earthly beasts would sacrifice their lives and their horns to slake our thirst for the miraculous, nonexistent animal, including rhinoceroses, narwhals, and oryx. Even fossilized ammonites were used. It was believed that drinking vessels made of such horns might neutralize poisons, and wounds could be cured by holding them close by. In the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots reportedly used a unicorn horn to protect her from poisoning. Too bad it didn’t prevent her beheading.

4. PEARLS

Pearls have long been thought to be powerful antidotes. A beautiful, rare gem created by the homely oyster, a pearl is born out of annoyance (the mollusk secretes iridescent nacre to cover an irritant, like a parasite or grain of sand). Pretty as they are, they’re about as useful as the chalky antacid tablets on your bedside table; both are chiefly made of calcium carbonate. Good for a stomachache after some spicy food, but not exactly miraculous.

Pearl powder has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases, and Ayurvedic physicians used it as an antidote in the Middle Ages. It was also reported to make people immortal. An old Taoist recipe recommended taking a long pearl and soaking it in malt, “serpent’s gall,” honeycomb, and pumice stone. When softened, it would be pulled like taffy and cut into bite-sized pieces to eat, and voilà! You would suddenly no longer need food to stay alive. Cleopatra famously drank down a large and costly pearl dissolved in wine vinegar, though in that case she wasn’t avoiding poison. She didn’t want to lose a bet with Antony—which might have fatally injured her pride.

5. THERIAC

Albarello vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
A vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Theriac was an herbal concoction created in the first century by Emperor Nero’s physician, Andromachus, who was reported to have Mithridates’s secret notes. It was a mashed formula of about 70 ingredients, including cinnamon, opium, rose, iris, lavender, and acacia in a honey base. In the 12th century, theriac made in Venice was branded as particularly special, and Venetian treacle (derived from a Middle English translation of theriac) became a hot commodity. Its public, dramatic production often attracted curious crowds.

By the 18th century, cheaper golden syrup was substituted for honey. As treacle began to lose its luster as a treatment, its definition as an herbal remedy disappeared from common vernacular. But the sweet syrup remained. Which is why when we think of treacle, we think of treacle tarts, not a fancy means of saving ourselves from a deathly poisoning.

BONUS: WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS

Thankfully, science has brought us a wide range of antidotes for many items we shouldn’t be exposed to in dangerous quantities, if at all. N-acetylcysteine, fondly referred to as NAC by doctors, saves us from acetaminophen overdoses. Ethanol can treat antifreeze poisoning. Atropine, ironically one of the main components of plants in the toxic nightshade family (such as mandrake), can treat poisoning from some dangerous fertilizers and chemical nerve agents used as weapons. For years, poisonings were treated with emetics, though it turns out that plain old carbon—in the form of activated charcoal—can adsorb poisons (the poisons stick to the surface of the charcoal) in the digestive system before they’re dissolved and digested by the body.

As long as the natural world and its humans keep making things to kill us off, we’ll keep developing methods to not die untimely deaths.

We’ll just leave the fancy hairballs off the list.

The cover of the book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
Workman Publishing

Excerpt from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen/Workman Publishing. Used with permission.

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