A Halloween season without Beetlejuice is like an airplane without barf bags... the ride just isn't quite as fun. Most people look at Beetlejuice as a weirdo horror-comedy that showcased some of Tim Burton's best work before he lost his magic creative touch and had Johnny Depp star in roughly a thousand* movies over the past two decades. Me? I look at it as a chance to learn some very important lessons about life - and the afterlife - so the following is a collection of the nuggets of knowledge I've extracted from this fantastic flick.
*note: this number is a low estimate
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #1:
The dead produce some excellent low budget commercials.
Considering we're constantly bombarded by the latest fitness craze workout DVD and penis enlargement pill commercials whenever we turn on the TV, it's nice to know that we have some better advertisements to look forward to when we die. Sure, I'd prefer no commercials whatsoever like any rational human being, but at least we get to watch the afterlife's leading bio-exorcist dressed up as a cowboy, riding on a model cow. He'll even possess himself to win your business!
Almost makes me want to support the guy and shout his name three times. Almost...
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #2:
You get a handbook for how to get by when you're dead.
So it turns out that you've given an instruction manual for everything you need to know about when you die. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest read, but at least it exists. After all, Adam figured out how to draw a door and get an appointment with his caseworker after reading it, so how hard can it be?
For all the fears we have about death, we can at least take some solace in knowing that it comes with an instruction manual. It's a shame you aren't given a similar handbook for your life on earth.
Side note: I have to take this opportunity to mention there is another guide from the author of Handbook for the Recently Deceased that is always overlooked for some reason:
"The Living and the Dead: Harmonious Lifestyles and Peaceful Co-Existence"
It's seen briefly at the end of the movie, yet nobody ever seems to mention it. Why? Perhaps it's just a bad follow-up to the original book or maybe people were too distracted by the Beetlejuice snake head sculpture that pops into the frame shortly afterwards to notice it was a different title. Whatever the case may be, its existence has now been acknowledged so the guide can finally rest in peace.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #3:
Whatever condition you're in when you die
is how you'll remain in the afterlife.
Did you know that the way you die can have a drastic effect on how you spend your time in the afterlife? Well it does. If you choke to death on a chicken bone, that bone will end up lodged in your throat for all eternity. If you get bit by a giant rattlesnake and you die in your sleeping bag, you'll spend your afterlife inside that same sleeping bag with the snake. If you had your leg chomped off in a vicious shark attack and then you stabbed that shark in the head and you both died, you'll be forever attached to one another.
Look, I don't make up these crazy ass rules, but I sure am glad that Beetlejuice informed us about them... aren't you? All these years they told us we had to make sure we led a good life if we want a happy afterlife... they never told us we had to die in style as well. So yeah, when you die, make sure you do it in an extremely comfortable fashion that couldn't possibly hinder your movement or your existence in any way whatsoever.
I bet shrunken head guy wishes somebody told him that.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #4:
You can do fun things with your face when you're dead.
Seriously, who wouldn't love this ability? You can rip your face off. You can chop you best friend's head off. You can shove your hand up through your skull and wear your eyeballs on your fingers. You can even make monstrosities explode from your face like a horrifying cuckoo clock. And the best part? When you're done having your fun, you can put yourself right back together as if it never happened with no consequences at all. I just can't see how anybody could possibly be bored in the afterlife with entertaining capabilities such as this.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #5:
Nobody cleans up in the afterlife.
The problem with being able to tear your face right off along with other ghoulish tricks is that such activities distract you from other regular tasks. Take cleaning for example. Did you notice just how disheveled the afterlife offices were? There are files, faxes, and even rolls of toilet paper scattered all over the damn place. Oh sure, you may still be in the habit of cleaning up after yourself when you first die, but wait a couple of years and see how things are looking after you've rode on the back of a sandworm. When you're constantly doing activities like that, I'm pretty sure menial tasks like cleaning get tossed to the wayside and things are bound to get a bit messy.
I guess what I'm saying is if you have OCD, the afterlife will basically be hell for you, so do yourself a favor and at least pack a Roomba or two before you kick the bucket.
Then again, what do you expect when a bunch of blacklight skeletons are in charge of all the paperwork?
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #6:
Avoid shrimp cocktails at all costs.
I don't know about you, but if I will always suspect shrimp cocktails of having ulterior motives. Oh sure, they look they want you to eat them, but then as soon as you're ready to dig in, they grab your face and make an ass out of you. Yes, they look like shrimp, but they're actually fingers attached to unseen hands that will shove you, ruin your nice dining room chairs, and possibly give you severe back and/or neck injuries. This doesn't bother me too much since I'm not a big fan of shellfish to begin with, so there's no loss here, but I think it's important to warn you all about the dangers that come with such meals.
You know what? On second thought, you should probably avoid all seafood in general, just to play it safe.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #7:
If your soul ever gets lost, don't worry... there's a storage room for it.
I'm not sure exactly how one's soul become lost... perhaps it's after having been exorcised, or maybe it was simply lost in a bet. Whatever the case may be, it's good to know that there's a "Lost Souls Room" should you ever happen to lose yours. In the movie, they say it's death for the dead, but I like to think of it as a nice looking lost & found. Normally, a lost & found consists of a cardboard box with a bunch of old unclaimed coats in it. This, however, is a badass looking room filled with seemingly holographic apparitions. Hell, even if I didn't lose my soul, I'd probably go take a peek at it.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #8:
If you do well in school, the ghosts you live with may levitate
you and let you dance with dead football players as a reward.
If parents really want their kids to do well in school, they need to find ways to motivate them. When I was younger, they introduced the "Book It!" incentive reading program, which rewarded kids with free personal pizzas if they read enough books. To a kid, free pizza is better than any kind of currency.
Nowadays, there are more distractions than ever, so if parents want their kids to excel in their studies, they're gonna have to up the ante a bit. Why not tell the kids that if they do well enough, ghosts will levitate them and let them dance with dead football players to the tune of Harry Belafonte's "Jump In The Line" for hours on end just like in Beetlejuice? I don't know about you, but I'd take floating around with ghosts over a free personal pizza. I can buy a pizza, but I'm pretty sure I can't buy ghost levitation. Then, when they get excellent grades and wonder why they're not being levitated, the parent can simply respond, "I guess you didn't try hard enough." That's how you get results, people.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #9:
Headwear for the dead is so incredible that it's simply unfair.
I bet if some organization conducted a study, they'd discover that a good 85% of suicides were a direct result of their unhappiness with earthly headwear. I mean really... when you see that awesome hat Beetlejuice is wearing, doesn't it make you want to kill yourself since you know you'll never get to wear something that amazing on your head? For chrissakes, it lights up and spins around as a fully functional merry-go-round complete with circus music! I'm sorry, you can search all you want, but you'll never find such awe-inspiring headwear in a J. Crew catalog.
KNOWLEDGE NUGGET #10:
Otho will forever be a misunderstood interior design genius.
If you own a house, it must be depressing to look at it after watching a movie like Beetlejuice. Otho (portrayed by the late, great Glenn Shaddix) is a master of interior design, though only Delia Deetz seems to appreciate his genius artistic eye. Once Otho got his hands on that ordinary country home, he literally tore it apart and turned it into something that looks like a tribute to an insane dystopian future that you'd actually want to live in. How is that even possible!? Also, this is the only man I know of who is capable of bringing interior design to the great outdoors, and for that reason alone, he should be put up on a pedestal and admired for all eternity.
Sadly, we'll never see the likes of Otho again, for Beetlejuice exposed his one true weakness in this world...
Polyester leisure suits.
So those are some of the important nuggets of information I took away from Beetlejuice. What about you? Is there anything else you learned from it that I didn't mention? If so, share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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