25 reasons why we still love Beetlejuice

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Screenshot of official Beetlejuice trailer on warnerbros.com.

24. The Handbook for the Recently Deceased

Once the Maitlands perish in a death-by-dog-avoidance accident on a covered bridge in their town, they stumble back to their home and discover some strange things. One, they’re wet and freezing. Two, they don’t remember how they got back. Three, there’s a fire lit neither one of them started. Four, as Barbara discovers, they’re invisible in mirrors.

Then comes the clincher: Barbara discovers a book called Handbook for the Recently Deceased that’s been left in their home by unseen hands.

Handbook for the Recently Diseased,” Adam reads.

Deceased,” Barbara corrects him.

When they open the book, they hilariously discover that it’s been published by the Handbook for the Recently Deceased Press, further evidence that they didn’t quite survive that ride home. It’s also dusty, as if it’s been buried underground or is very, very old.

It’s welcome to think that, in the event of your untimely demise, a guide would be waiting to give you instructions on how to conduct yourself as an apparition—especially one with a pleasing (if cheesy) ‘50s-looking cover like the one in Beetlejuice. Though, as Adam points out, it’s not the most readable tome.

“I don’t see anything about heaven or hell,” he says. “This book reads like stereo instructions.” The Maitlands peruse the book in hopes of figuring out why they can’t seem to leave the house or how long they’ll be stuck there, encountering passages like, “Functional perimeters vary from manifestation to manifestation”—the guide hinting at the bureaucratic horrors yet to come in their afterlife.