Tim Burton’s offbeat ghost story Beetlejuice took place in Connecticut, but it was actually filmed in East Corinth, Vermont. That great old house on a hill was just a facade built for the movie and later torn down. But when you watch the movie, you’d swear it had been overlooking the small village below for a hundred years.
Since it’s Halloween month, I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at the Beetlejuice sets and how the house was transformed by its new owners into something memorably ’80s mod.
On the blog Ironic Sans, a reader named Justin who lives in East Corinth remembers the day they shot the “bridge scene” where Adam and Barbara Maitland (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) crash through the side, into the water:
They built a fake red “cover” over the bridge (it was even a separate road that didn’t even lead to where they built the shell) that the Maitlands crashed through. I remember seeing the car go over the bridge (“all quiet on the set!”). The store, the library across the street, the mason hall that was the “school” all got fun little touches which were taken down after the shooting.
The interiors were created on a soundstage and filmed at Culver City Studios in California.
The sets were designed by Bo Welch, who worked as a production designer on other offbeat film projects like Edward Scissorhands and Men in Black. Welch is married to Catherine O’Hara, who played Delia Deetz in this movie.
When Barbara and Adam were still alive, the house had a quaint, old-fashioned feel to it.
But when the Deetz family moved in, all that soon changed.
It’s been reported that Tim Burton originally wanted Sammy Davis Jr. to play the role of Betelgeuse, but studio execs insisted on Michael Keaton. Hard to imagine the movie without him.
At the end of the movie, Winona Ryder levitates up the set and we get to see more of the staircase, which by then has been restored to its traditional look.
Barbara and Adam’s bedroom:
Anjelica Huston was reportedly cast as Delia Deetz first, but Catherine O’Hara took over for her.
Adam and Barbara spend most of their time in the attic after their deaths, where the new residents won’t bother them:
Adam has created a model of the small town they live in. His model of their house is shown in the opening scene of the movie, with a large spider crawling over the roof:
After their death, their house is sold to a couple from the city that immediately sets out to give it a more contemporary look:
The house is almost comically “artistic” and edgy with gray walls and odd sculptures.
When Adam and Barbara see it for the first time, they’re horrified. They hardly recognize their own home. Here’s how that fireplace we saw above looks now:
I love when Delia tells the movers to be careful with her sculptures: “It’s my art, and it’s dangerous.”
Winona Ryder played Lydia, their quirky daughter. She’s the only one who can see the ghosts in the house and communicate with them.
The kitchen is now a bold blue with stainless-steel appliances:
The house at night:
I think this “deck” they created on the side is so cool–especially how that wall frames the view.
I know some people actually prefer the more modern version of the house. Are you one of them? Or do you cringe when they start remodeling it?
Some of My Favorite “Haunted” Movie Houses: