by Jessica McKenzie, Staff Writer
Nobody knows better than Manhattan College’s Film Society that the best way to get in the Halloween spirit is through cinema. The decades don’t deteriorate the genius of “Beetlejuice” (1988), especially when presented alongside a fresh take to a classic, “Halloween” (2018).
Since the Film Society was founded by Margaret Toth, Ph.D., as a way for her film minor students to earn extra credit, students have been attending monthly screenings of different movies and analyzing them as a group. It has become somewhat of a tradition for film society members to gather on holidays such as Halloween and Christmas to watch movies in the spirit of the season.
“The regular screenings are meant to be watched and analyzed, and the special events for the holidays such as this one are meant to be a bit more informal. Our main objective is just to have fun,” said the president of the film society, sophomore English major Regan Alejo.
Giant bags of candy were passed around throughout the small audience as the night was kicked off with “Beetlejuice.”
“Beetlejuice,” directed by Tim Burton, is a horror and comedy film centered around a husband and wife who realize they’ve died after experiencing a car accident in which their car fell into a river. Even though they are trapped wandering their house as ghosts, the home is soon sold to a family of three.
Desperate to get their home back to themselves, they discover a book in their home called Handbook for the Recently Deceased and are pointed to a ghost named BetelGeuse. He claims to be the ultimate being that can frighten the new residents enough to drive them to move out, but is doomed to cause trouble along the way for both the living and the dead.
“Beetlejuice” won an Oscar for Best Makeup and is now a Broadway musical.
“The original script of ‘Beetlejuice’ was a lot more violent, but focus groups wanted to make it happier, so they added two new writers to lighten the tone,” explained film society presenter, Alfonse Calato, junior, who happens to be a film minor.
The name BetelGeuse comes from a star in the O’rion, but the film was almost named Scared Sheetless due to a joke cracked by one of the writers during a session.
The budget for special effects was only a $1 million. The character BetelGeuse is only in the film for a total of seventeen minutes, only twenty percent of the film. The actor, Michael Keaton was only involved with two weeks of filming.
Easter eggs were also pointed out in the film. In one scene, BetelGeuse is wearing a hat with the first sketch of the skeleton starring in Nightmare Before Christmas, another hit Tim Burton film.
The second film presented on Halloween night was the 2018 adaptation of “Halloween,” directed by David Gordon Green. The movie was a triumph compared to the original “Halloween’”s largely disappointing sequels. The 2018 adaptation received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 79 percent and an Audience Score of 70 percent.
The audience discussed the common but effective tropes in horror movies, such as the irresponsible actions of a babysitter leading to murder.
A presenter in the Film Society, Alyssa Tipton, a junior computer science major, expressed annoyance with the predictable ending. “It’s always the smart pretty girls that make it through,” she said.
Calato developed that point in the discussion. “That’s one of the good things about the Halloween movies. Even in the seventies they had strong female protagonists.”
The original “Halloween” (1979) is a prime example for filmmakers of how much they could do with so little. Even by Hollywood standards of 1979, low budgets were typically in the low millions, and the original Halloween movie was made on an estimate of $300,000.
“The best guys know what to do when they have a limit,” Calato said.
The Film Society’s next screening will be on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. “The Sixth Sense” (1999) will be featured in the Rodriguez Room.