Study Guide

Beetlejuice The Supernatural

The Supernatural

Here's a twist: a movie where the living are scarier than the dead.

In Beetlejuice, it's the Maitlands who we're rooting for even though they're deceased and (according to the laws of the state of Connecticut) can't actually own property anymore. In this film, the supernatural isn't supposed to be completely scary—it's what our heroes will need to use to save the day. Delia's sculpture, on the other hand? That's scary.

None of the Deetzes are as fazed as you might think about sharing their house with ghosts. (Shmoop just doesn't get it. Why don't the people in the Amityville Horror house run for their lives the first time they see blood running down the walls? Why don't the Poltergeist family burn the house down when their daughter shows up inside the TV?) Anyway, maybe the Deetzes are too self-centered to be anything other than irritated and annoyed when Barbara and Adam refuse to cooperate with their schemes to market the haunted house as a tourist draw. Turns out that's a good thing, though. It lets the Maitlands hang out happily with Lydia; it inspires more gruesome art from Delia; and Charles can happily relax in his study reading up on peacefully coexisting with the dead.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Is the afterlife-as-bureaucracy a convincing comic theme?
  2. How is the dinner party scene where Delia and her guests sing "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" a turning point for the Deetzes in terms of their relationship to the supernatural?
  3. Why do you think Otho decides to perform the séance from The Handbook even though he doesn't really know what he's doing?

Chew on This

Lydia's preoccupation with the morbid makes it easy for her to deal with the Maitlands. Plus, she's read the Handbook.

Like all things, being a ghost takes practice. It's just not in the Maitlands' skill set yet.

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