Beetlehouse, Beetlehouse, Beetlehouse: Phoenix Halloween display pays homage to 'Beetlejuice'
This Halloween weekend, there will be plenty of pumpkin carving, costume wearing and trick-or-treating. But for one Phoenix couple, the holiday is more of a lifestyle.
Year-round, the inside of Karen Altamirano and Matthew Wiley’s home is decked out in a style she calls Victorian goth. Their dark living room — a style Altamirano refers to as "haunted brothel" — is decorated with black velvet curtains, a coffin coffee table and a red velvet couch. The walls are covered in spiders, bats and all sorts of creepy crawlers — fake, of course, but still scary. Altamirano loves all things Halloween, but a certain Ghost with the Most holds a special place in her heart.
"'Beetlejuice' is definitely a big obsession for us," Altamirano said. "It’s a quote from the movie, but I constantly joke — I’ve seen it 167 times and it keeps getting funnier every time we see it. ... But on that note, honestly, probably like over 500; 167 is definitely calling it short."
Altamirano is fairly certain she could quote the entire movie. For the past four years, Altamirano and Wiley have decorated their front yard with life-size mannequins of the "Beetlejuice" main characters and other homemade decorations. A massive cutout of a sandworm snakes through the yard.
The nickname "Beetlehouse" is well-earned.
"Now, you can find 'Beetlejuice' decorations at Spirit Halloween or at Home Depot, but at the time there really wasn’t anything other than like, a little foam tombstone. I kind of just joked in 2018 like, 'Oh, we should just build our own stuff.' And then we did," Altamirano said. "This year we added the waiting room, which has been a really big hit … I watched that waiting room scene like a thousand times this year, trying to figure out every single texture on the wall that I could recreate, every color, everything … Since we started doing this, I feel like I might have actually gotten my fiancé a little tired about it, like over it, because every year that we build something, I make him watch it 12 times a year just to like, get inspiration of a new scene or something new we wanna build."
Altamirano’s obsession with "Beetlejuice" is rooted in a childhood love for gore and grossness.
"Growing up, I had a horror-loving mom and a horror-loving brother, so I grew up watching horror very young. I was like six years old the first time I saw a horror movie. And when you’re a horror-loving kid, there’s just not a lot of kid movies that interest you … It’s the fact that I felt that I could still be a kid and have fun and just get into the whole childhood movies, family-friendly movies, but it was still kind of horror elements and there was like, gross and weird stuff," Altamirano said. "It’s really wonderful finding out people are having their kids watch 'Beetlejuice' for the first time just so they can come check it out because they're nostalgic and wanna check it out too."
Beetlehouse is officially decorated from August to early November. You can see it for yourself on Earll Drive in Phoenix. The house is hard to miss, but the exact address is on @AZBeetlehouse on Instagram. Just don’t repeat that three times in a row.