Burton, Keaton, Elfman
Tim Burton and Michael Keaton have said they'll consider signing on for the sequel if the script is good enough. There is no movie without them.
Seth Grahame-Smith, who penned mash-up novels Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies , and also the script for Burton's Dark Shadows is on screenplay duties - apparently it'll be a real-time sequel, so set 26 or 27 years after the first - and he's insistent he's not planning to desecrate the original.
“I don’t wanna be the guy that destroys the legacy and the memory of the first film; I would rather die. I would rather just not make it, I’d rather just throw the whole thing away than make something that pays no respect and doesn’t live up even close to the legacy of the first film," he says. Good.
Also Danny Elfman’s got to be back for the score. You might be sick to death of his kooky plinky riffs but for Beetlejuice there can be no other.
The charred-up smoker, the sawn-up woman, the choking-on-his-dinner victim and the receptionist who wouldn’t have had her ‘little accident’ had she known better.
The Afterlife in Beetlejuice is crammed with brilliant characters and visual jokes we’re desperate to see more of. It feels like the perfect place for Burton to explore his dark sense of humour.
Attention to detail is Burton's forte – it goes awry when he tries to be quirky and kid friendly ( Alice In Wonderland , Charlie And The Chocolate Factory ). When he's making bleak funnies about suicide and death he's never better.
Sadly, Sylvia Sidney who played case worker Juno headed to the afterlife herself in 1999, but we’d love to learn a bit more about a day in the life of an undead advocate, too.
Shrunken head guy!
He only pops up as a gag after most of the movie's finished but the shrunken head-ed explorer and the witchdoctor who does the shrinking (he minimises Betelgeuse's head for trying to pinch his ticket and jump the queue) have become legends and deserve a cameo at least.
A whole narrative based around the witchdoctor and his conquests? Nah.
But a subplot with Betelgeuse in the jungle featuring a range of falsetto-ed pea-heads? We could get on board with that. A pre-credits sequence showing how BG got his bonce back to it's normal size? Sounds like a (small) no-brainer...
Lydia Deetz is all grown up and we're pretty sure Winona Ryder's not about to star in this sequel, but a cute cameo from the former tragic teen is a must. Did she get over her obsession with death? Does she still hang with the Maitlands (and how does that work now she's grown older than they ever were)? There was always a bit of chemistry between Lydia and Betelgeuse (he tries to marry her, after all) so they deserve a reunion.
For the sequel, it seems inevitable the main living character will have to be a youngster. But no super-tanned LA teens please! Beetlejuice is for freaky loners with a morbid fascination with mortality. It's a feel-good film for disenfranchised outsiders. Can we suggest there might be a part in it for Saoirse Ronan?
Song and dance routines
Bear with us...
Re-watch the original and one of the reasons it’s such a joyful experience despite the fact that the main characters die in the first 5 minutes is the Caribbean song and dance routines.
Dayo! (With the giant monstrous shrimp hands). Jump In the Line! (with the team of dead American football players). Euphoric! There's definitely room for some carefully choreographed numbers in part 2.
But! Crowbarred-in routines are a no-no – these worked in the original because they were part of the story, with Adam and Barbara established early on as fans of that particular musical genre.
Add tunes for the sake of themselves and you've lost us completely.
Back in 1990 Tim Burton was working on a sequel called Beetlejuice goes Hawaiian with writer Jonathan Gems (who went on to pen Burton's underrated B- Movie Mars Attacks ) where sleazy bio-exorcist Betelgeuse heads to the sun because, according to Gems: “Tim thought it would be funny to match the surfing backdrop of a beach movie with some sort of German Expressionism, because they're totally wrong together”.
The project dragged its heels and stalled until it was too late - Lydia was a big part and Winona got too old and too famous for a start.
That script may be defunct but the inherent comedy of scuzzy undead opposite sparkly peppiness still works, so we'd welcome some international travel in BJ2.
Plus we'd love to see Betelgeuse in a pair of Bermuda shorts.
The reason Adam and Barbara Maitland can't leave their house in Beetlejuice : Sandworms.
Burton's vision of limbo which keeps ghosts locked between their set location and the afterlife is clever and cool and a little bit frightening, involving giant-fanged, ravenous snakes (one actually eats Betelgeuse) though the stop motion animation could maybe use an update.
Michael McDowell's original script for Beetlejuice included loads of different versions of limbo encountered when Adam and Barbara try to step outside. We'd love to see more sandworms in Beetlejuice 2 but how about some additions, variations and a better look at limbo?
Party People In A Can
In the late 80s and early 90s Beetlejuice got a spin-off cartoon, where he and Lydia teamed up and wreaked havoc with help from the 'Neitherworld'.
Primarily for kids, it ditched some of the death and darkness but kept up the spirit of anarchy; we reckon there's room for a bit of cross-over action in the form of Party People In A Can.
Lydia's throwing a halloween party, BG wants it to be the nuts so he brings her an aerosol which instantly generates guests.
Only when they get wet they turn into giant monsters and go on the rampage.
Ok it sounds a bit like the undead pets in Frankenweenie . Or the gremlins in Gremlins . But monsters! From the Neitherworld! On the rampage! What's not to like?
Beetlejuice is wicked fun, but it's also a bit sad.
Young couple Adam and Barbara are killed before they can have a life together – they clearly want a child which they can never have. Lydia is estranged and ignored by her family; she threatens suicide.
Delia is frustrated, Charles is irritated, even Betelgeuse wants a wife (or a shag, certainly).
Burton at his best weaves sorrow into his stories – sure, Beetlejuice 2 should be funny, grim, euphoric, imaginative, scary and silly but it also needs to be touching.
The overweight interior designer and amateur exorcist is last seen at the end of Beetlejuice with the Deetz's in the hideous exterior living room he's conceptualised, with Delia creating beautiful/terrible works based on visions from the Afterlife.
Glenn Shadix, who played Otho, died in 2010 so Otho himself shouldn't make an appearance (we have no interest in a re-cast) but we'd love to see some hints of his legacy in the form of his art and design.
Pretentious, selfish, ruthless, with a killer head for business we reckon Otho would have made it big.
How about some Otho authored buildings in the real world?
Hopefully Oscar-nommed Beetlejuice / Edward Scissorhands production designer Bo Welch will be back on-board and can make it so.