A sneak peek of Chicago’s ‘House of Beetle’

A few of the residents in the 'House of Beetle'

A few of the residents in the ‘House of Beetle’

movie sets
inside a cool bar is
a great idea, but
‘House of Beetle’
is way more
than that

Chicago’s Beetlejuice Pop-Up Bar is a living recreation of the eclectic groove that make the original Tim Burton film a legendary classic. Besides offering visitors a chance to walk through the attic, the waiting room, and several more locations from the story, the House of Beetle features characters from the movie strolling throughout the place.

Beetlegeuse poses for a photo with guests
Beetlegeuse poses for a photo with guests

On Wednesday night, the pop-up’s creators, ZhaZha Casanova and Asha Holloway, gave the media a preview of the experience, which opens today at the Bassline on South Michigan Avenue.

Our conclusion: Building movie sets into a cool bar is a great idea, but this is way more than that. House of Beetle is worth the trip.

The DJ was amazing. The crowd was happy. The actors playing Lydia, Adam, Barbara, the shrunken-head guy, and Beetlegeuse did an excellent job staying in character while hobnobbing and posing for selfies with the guests. It was like walking into the movie itself, and more characters including Miss Argentina will be on hand when the experience opens to the public.

Beetle-building crew: Charles, AJ Tarzian, Sasha Holloway, TK, Kat
Beetle-building crew: Charles, AJ Tarzian, Sasha Holloway, TK, Kat

Partners in the creative marketing agency InterPop, Casanova and Holloway have built a strong reputation for building pop-up experiences. They started moving in the House of Beetle direction while brainstorming for Halloween-themed pop-up ideas.

Casanova advocated for Beetlejuice and suggested that Holloway reacquaint herself with the film.

“She said, ‘what I really want you to do is get a notepad, get a glass of wine, and go ahead and watch the movie,” Holloway recalls. “Twenty minutes in, I was just like, we have to do the Beetlejuice. And that’s when I started stalking A.J.”

A.J. is A.J. Tarzian, owner and proprietor of Anarchitype, the company that built the Harry Potter and Stranger Things pop-ups at Emporium in Logan Square. Using wood, paint, Styrofoam, discarded building materials, and a variety of other supplies, the 2010 graduate of DePaul’s set design program transformed the concept into a Windy City kind of thing.

'House of Beetle'
‘House of Beetle’

“I never heard talk about making a Chicago version of Beetlejuice,” he recalls. “My sort of twist on this, it’s like some dude was living in this attic of the Bassline building.”

Tarzian guided Reel Chicago through the customized liberties he took to give the Beetlejuice Pop-Up a Chicago twist, and they are cool. We will not disclose them here, but we do encourage readers to visit and see for themselves.

House of Beetle will be open from October 17 through November 1. Early bird tickets are available for purchase on the website for $25.00. General admission tickets will be available beginning October 1 for $35.00. Ticket-holders must be 21 years old or older to enter the experience. For tickets, hours of operation, and other information, click on this.

Send your pop-updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.