Why The Day-O Scene In Beetlejuice Was Difficult To Shoot

Day-O song in Beetlejuice

Tim Burton's Beetlejuice is one of the director's most memorable and bizarre films in a career full of the weird and fantastical. One of Beetlejuice's standout scenes was the hilarious, strange and unforgettable Day-O scene. During a dinner party thrown by the Delia Deetz, her and her guests are possessed and sing Harry Belafonte's Day-O (The Banana Boat Song). At the end of the song the shrimp on their plates become the fingers of monstrous hands that reach out to grab them by the face. This scene actually proved logistically difficult, but Dick Cavett, who played Delia Deetz's art agent Bernard, proposed a clever solution. As the comedian and former talk show host explained:

It's safe to say this, I think I made a contribution to the film. There was a scene at the table. My contribution had to do with the attacking shrimp. They kept shooting it, but the guys under there couldn't really see where their hand was going and they poked each other in the face. And there were minor injuries... what I recall is saying, 'Why don't you shoot it in reverse?'... I was hailed as a genius.

That is actually a pretty clever solution for someone who wasn't a production guy in the strict sense. Dick Cavett was a television personality, a comedian and a magician, but not a filmmaker. And you can see how that scene would have proved tricky. The people controlling the monster hands couldn't see the faces of the actors they were aiming for, so I imagine this led to quite a few unpleasant eye pokes and ruined takes. Nowadays the shrimp hands would probably be completely CG, or there would be a quick digital fix for this issue. But practical solutions were needed for production problems such as this, and they often required some outside the box thinking like Dick Cavett proposed.

Dick Cavett notes in his interview with Yahoo that he is not sure if one of the other takes made it into the final film or his reverse shot, although he likes to think his suggestion made it in. You can watch the scene below and decide for yourself.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Tim Burton's classic film and the years have done nothing to dull the insanity of this movie. With the anniversary the film is back in the public consciousness and we are learning more about the inimitable movie and its production, including an original ending that was considered. There is also the ever-lingering question of a sequel film. It seems like every other day there is news of a reboot or continuation of a well-known 80's property and with Michael Keaton returning to the Hollywood spotlight in recent years, the time is seemingly never more right for a Beetlejuice 2.

Whether or not a sequel is a good idea is another matter entirely, but the Beetlejuice sequel talk has been going on for years. Even though Michael Keaton himself has surmised that ship has sailed, sequel talk refuses to die. In fact, just last year news came out that Warner Bros. had hired Mike Vukadinovich to pen the script for the sequel. While we await for the specter of Beetlejuice 2 to fully materialize, you can catch Michael Keaton reuniting with his Beetlejuice director Tim Burton in Disney's live-action remake of Dumbo, hitting theaters next year. For all the latest in movie magic and horrific dinner parties, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.