Read Michael McDowell’s second draft of Beetlejuice, before Tim Burton took the role of director, and while some have said the original draft was too dark and uncomedic I , due to my twisted sense of humor, found myself rolling with laughter over it! While I love and adore the final product, there’s always something to the early concepts and drafts of films like Beetlejuice I find so much more fun. I was reading it and thought it would have been great as an animated “horror” film, rather than live action as it still had quite a few of the cartoony concepts seen in the film. If anyone is interested, here’s a link to the script: www.dailyscript.com/scripts/be…Some things that I am GLAD were changed in the final product:
- Otho and Delia's apparent drug abuse for obvious reasons. I like the pair as they appear in Burton's film: sort of those try too hard to be edgy adults you see in most of those late 80's, early 90's films who actually have no taste or decorating sense. It gave them a more comedic tone rather than delving into the too real to life Manhattan art scene in the 80's.
- Charles Deetz's character as a whole. In the last draft/film, Charles is totally rewritten as a worked to his breaking point business man (my guess was a real estate agent to the wealthy upper classes of New York?) and is very set in a more laid back, almost country ideal. Thus explaining why he wanted to keep Adam's/his office the way it came with the house, right down to actually keeping a wedding photo of the Maitland's on the wall. (If you look close during the scene where he's looking out the window with binoculars, you can see said photo.) The Charles Deetz we see in the 2nd draft script by McDowell seems to be a carbon copy of his wife in style but not quite to her extremes. This sort of makes his character even more bland than what we see in the film.
- Lydia Deetz's character as a whole. I did NOT care for the night clubbing, "Death Metal" version of Lydia in the 2nd Draft. It may just be my bias towards Burton's characters, but I felt that Lydia was written MUCH better for the movie than McDowell had done for his script. This could be due to the fact that Lydia in Burton's film is a combination of two characters seen in McDowell's script: Lydia and her cut before final print half-sister, 9 year old Cathy Deetz. Cathy, in McDowell's draft, was the only one who could see and communicate Adam and Barbara due to her being the youngest. This sort of made McDowell's script feel more like Poltergeist than Beetlejuice, so this could be why her character was cut.Some things that I WISH were in the final product:
- Aforementioned Cathy Deetz. While her character wouldn't serve much purpose after Lydia's rewrite, I feel that Burton missed a good opportunity with having the two sisters in his film. One reason is that it gives a sort of alternate view of the Maitland's still residing in the house; one from Cathy's perspective and one from Lydia's. Lydia is dark and brooding in Burton's film, thus how she is able to see them and relates to them on a more supernatural, while Cathy is a child and her senses are more akin to the world around her thus giving the Maitland's a sort of light and living outlet. This would give a sort of symbolic life and death approach to the two characters. As stated before, Cathy's character would serve no purpose other than the cute little sister after Burton's rewrite, but I still think he could have made use of the two as separate characters.
- The Maitland's home remodel. This is only seen in clips from the Maitland's perspective as outsiders looking in and later only as a finished whole in Burton's film. In McDowell's script, however, he has them experience the remodel first hand in a rather ingenious way: after their ordeal on Saturn with the Sand Worm, they run from the bottom floor of the house to the top, trying to escape the events going on around them. A giant oven is thrown through the windows of their breakfast nook, they are blasted with steam from the wallpaper removal tools, priceless antique furniture from generations of the Maitland's family are tossed out of second story windows to crash to their doom below. All the while, the couple just keep running for their...lives(?) through each floor and room of their house, taking the viewer on a wild ride through the horrors of this home remodel. It shows just how little Delia and Otho gave a damn about the house's previous tenants and their need to stay "trendy". And don't worry, McDowell's script still keeps the house looking as garish and 80's "cutting edge" as is seen in Burton's film.
- The "happy" ending. While McDowell's version of the ending doesn't include a demented wedding between a young girl and "the ghost with the most", it does include a more happy end for the Maitland's and the Deetz's: The Deetz family are able to keep their new home the way it was and the Maitland couple moves into Adam's model of their home. Delia, using her art skill for good rather than creating terrible sculptures, creates mini versions of their old furniture for them to fill the model house up with. She does try to get them to put one of her sculptures in the model house, but the Maitland's wind up chucking it out a window, as the Deetz's had done to their antique furniture.
I think a LOT of what was in the 2nd draft made it to the final film, but a lot was kept out either for time or for it being rather difficult to translate, such as the remodel sequence or Beetlejuice's finale. Read the script to find out more on that. As stated, I LOVE the film, it's been a favorite of mine since I was small, but reading the script I feel somehow empty now knowing what could have been.