“I’m a ghost with the most, babe.”
Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) recently died. When a new family tries to move into their home, Adam and Barbara bond with the family’s daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder) and try to communicate their concerns about the rest of her family to anyone who might listen.
Say My Name
Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) is a misnomer, given that he spells his name Betelgeuse. Part of the problem is getting his name correct; if said three times, Betelgeuse is free to reign supreme over the lives of the living and the dead. Unfortunately, saying his name three times again shrinks the little man back down to size. Adam and Barbara use his name out of sheer desperation, even when they are warned against utilizing his services.
Speak of the Devil
Devilish lore suggests that speaking the name of Satan conjures him. In this way, the film nudges Satanic stories without getting too dark in the process. Fictional characters who appear at the suggestion of their names are numerous. There’s Bloody Mary; if you remember my post from last Halloween on Killer Legends, there’s Candyman; and there’s even Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter (who may be making an appearance this December for a very magical character analysis…). Like Adam and Barbara, folklore indicates that many people who conjure these characters do so out of desperate ignorance.
Handbook for the Recently Deceased
Beetlejuice suggests that dead people grieve their lives as a transition to the next chapter. During the seance, the decaying bodies of Adam and Barbara illustrate that the dead should not be disturbed by the living. However, the scene also implies that messing with things beyond human comprehension can have seriously alarming side effects. Instead, our girl Lydia does her best to understand the strange and unusual without interrupting its strange and unusual process.