Twenty-five years ago, Warner Bros. released a ghoulish, surrealistic comedy about a madcap evil spirit wreaking havoc on a married couple.Directed by newcomer Tim Burton and scored by Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman — both blazing new trails after careers in animation and rock music, respectively — Beetlejuice became a pop-culture sensation, a box-office hit and was the start of one of cinema’s great director-composer relationships.
Here, the Oscar-nominated Elfman reflects on the film:
“One of the great things about working with Tim is he never analyzes anything. He either feels it or he doesn’t, but you’ll never hear him say, ‘Well, that doesn’t make sense.’ So Tim showed me a rough cut of the movie. I told him I’d call him in two weeks when I had some music. I played it for him. We were all set.
But while I was working on the music, the studio started doing test screenings, and they were all just disastrous. They thought about re-shoots and re-editing the movie but, to the studio’s credit — maybe because the movie was so cheap to make — they ultimately said, ‘Let’s just put this out there and see what happens.’ Of course, it went on to be a big hit, and Tim and I have worked together another dozen times. You don’t know how rare that is, and terribly gratifying too.”