Beetlejuice Shrimp Hand Prop Restoration

Subtle restoration and display base for an original Beetlejuice shrimp hand prop

This prop Beetljuice shrimp hand was used as a special effects element in one of the most iconic scenes from Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice… the “Day-O” dinner party scene. When Delia, played by Catherine O’Hara, tries to throw a lavish dinner party she and her guests are possessed and forced by Beetlejuice to perform an elaborate dance number to Harry Belafonte’s classic hit. The finale of the scene is when they are attacked by their own shrimp dinner, which turn into monstrous rubber hands that grab their faces!

These latex shrimp gloves were worn by puppeteers hidden under the dinner table so they could create the illusion that they were attacking the actors. When the rubber prop glove was brought to our NY studio they had been previously foam filled with a soft polyurethane foam. This helped to support and keep the shape of the latex glove and is likely a big part of why it was in such excellent condition. Our efforts were on very minor repairs and paint touch ups, and adding a cool display stand. Overall, a very subtle restoration, leaning towards conservation and making an already good prop just slightly better.

The Beetlejuice shrimp hand had some small areas of wear and tear where the paint had rubbed off. All very common for screen used props. Our client wanted to bring it back to more of a screen worthy state. Whenever we restore a prop like this, we use a technique called in-painting. This means that we only paint those areas that no longer have paint. We want to leave a much original paint as we possibly can in order to maintain the history of the piece. Even small section like these can be time consuming as each color needs to be custom mixed and applied to perfectly match the surrounding paint colors and make the repairs disappear. Some other very small repairs were made to the “nails” (which in this case are shrimp tails!).

Once the subtle restoration was finished we created a custom display base with a black and white Tim Burton inspired spiral paint scheme.

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