Underwater Love - VHS Limited Edition 4AP

Underwater Love - VHS Limited Edition 4AP

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How the hell has it taken me ten years to take on Beetlejuice?! What a brilliantly bonkers film! Well good things come to those who wait I guess and what with the sequel coming this year that looks incredible, the timing is perfect. It does seem that the movie often gets overlooked but when those memories come back, it very quickly reminds you just how you were fascinated by the plot, the setting, and the brilliant, brilliant characters! It certainly has a cult following.

Released in 1988, it was so wonderfully 80’s, every damned thing about it! I guess that era has stayed so popular for these type of comedy horror movies because of the special effects, great back then but they haven’t aged well – yet because of that it just adds to the warmth that you feel towards it nowadays when such effects are way too over the top and maybe too real. The same applies to Ghostbusters, back in 1984 the way that we saw Slimer, and the terror dogs was so much more fun than what we see in modern instalments like a possessed bin bag or pizza.

It was really interesting to revisit Beetlejuice after so many years, it stirred up so many memories. What it did remind me of was that back then as a ten-year-old little cutie that it was actually scary. Not in terms of the effects because they weren’t bad at all, it was the subject of death. It troubled me when the couple crashed through the bridge and drowned and came back as ghosts, realising that they had perished. Ignoring that though, how incredible is Michael Keaton as an actor, I had no idea that it was the same guy who played Batman so brilliantly. I guess back then (sounding old now!) there was no internet to expand on what you had just watched – you simply enjoyed it for who the actors were playing and nothing more. It was all about the movie and nothing else could get in the way. Pure cinema, pure fascination.

I’m counting how many times I mention Beetlejuice here in case the mouldy faced lunatic bursts in, but I think it’s only if you say it three times in a row, go on I dare you! That reminds me of that dare at school when you were challenged to say a name into the mirror – I’m pretty sure I did it, but nothing happened apart from shitting myself – good that the mirror was in the downstairs toilet! Anyway, back to the movie, it’s showtime!

The very nature of the film’s narrative and aesthetics are perfect for me, dark, quirky, random, and vivid. As part of this collection I had previously worked on a piece based on The Shining ‘REDRUM’ and for that piece I set about depicting the movie in a ‘Storyteller’ way where it is all about the detail and not the characters, Jack was shown only as a shadow and reflection in the mirror and the twins just had to feature but otherwise It was all about the devil well and truly being in the detail. This was to be in line with a past piece called ‘Smile’ where the detail was enough, but the character involvement transformed it. I did contemplate it for Beetlejuice, but the brilliance of the characters was too good to leave out!

I have tried to capture the wonderful qualities of the movie within my interpretation, I have spent so much time adjusting the colour balance so that the piece is dark but vivid but not overpowering or too intense to hang in your living space. Production probably despise me, but I love it, it’s important and you lot are worth it! I was toying with the idea of creating a scene within the loft but feared it may end up being too dark visually, another thought was to set it by the bridge but that clearly still troubles me! The graveyard was a great setting and so different to what you would typically see, devoid of unease but still creepy. Decision made.

The truth is, there are so many amazing settings and references within the film that I had to try and integrate them into my own take on the movie and I quickly realised that this was going to be so successful. I wanted it to be full to bursting but not too busy, pulling big details back to give a better focus and order. It was a solid example of how confident I have been in my decision making. The intensity that I was working at was full on, yet it was combined with such a strong sense of calm. This was the feeling from start to finish with this collection. From a personal level, I needed complete and utter focus, and the end results are really quite something, another example of so much positivity coming from a challenging time.

So, ignoring the main man, who is your favourite ghost in the film? Harry the Hunter? Charred Man?! It’s great how each have clearly died a horrific death yet are so likeable, I feel like I need to give Charred Man a hug, but he would surely disintegrate or leave a blackened mess on my new top. Karma, I hear you cry? Payback from all of you who have been covered from my burnt frames! Whoopsie! Fuck it! I shall never change! Although I better be careful, or I will end up starring in Beetlejuice 3! Anyway, back to the piece! I have a good feeling about this one, you just don’t see artworks in this way depicting the movie so I hope I have done it justice, I love it personally and I can’t wait to hear your reaction. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, check out the insane frame on the original! I’m still finding bits of that moss where the sun don’t shine!