What’s Inside Handbook for the Recently Deceased from Beetlejuice

Posted by Jadzia Axelrod

[source: The Geffen Film Company]

In the movie Beetlejuice, newly ghosted Barbara and Adam received the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, a guide for those beginning their post-livelihood. Little of the handbook is discussed in the film—Adam has trouble reading it, but then, he thinks the title is Handbook for the Recently Diseased. Goth teen Lydia has no problem paging through it, so the problem may be more with Adam than the book itself. Judge for yourself, with these excerpts:


Congratulations! You’re dead!

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your afterlife. Not everyone who dies becomes a ghost, but there are many, many more ghosts in the world around you than you may have realized. You can chalk it up to living-privilege bias; live people ignore the strange and unusual. Naturally, functional parameters vary from manifestation to manifestation. But as you make your way through your ethereal existence, you will no doubt find a style of haunting that suits your personality, disposition, and ectoplasmic make-up.

The following is a series of general parameters for the dead. They include, but are not limited to, the finer points of poltergiestery, séance protocol and etiquette, transmogriphication of ectoplasma, animating the inanimate, animating the animate, exorcisms, exoprisms, exorchasms, and creepy noises to make late at night.

In case of an emergency, draw a door and knock three times. You will be connected to your case-worker. For anything short of a death-threatening cataclysm, this book should be all an expectant spectre should require.

Happy haunting!


Honing In On Your Haunt-Style

It is incumbent on every dead person to choose the style of haunting they are most comfortable with. While the more imaginative practitioners of the poltergeist arts may look down their rotting noses upon those prefer to emulate how they looked in life, it should be noted that there is no “best” way to be a ghost. There are merely those who find comfort in mediocrity, and those who wish to push themselves. All you have to do is find out who you are, and be that.


BASIC: Memory Manifestation

The most common and easiest manifestation is most likely the one you are in right now, a default projection of how you see yourself. This may not be how you actually look; manifestations often appear taller and heavier than you looked in life. Hair length and sparsity is also fungible depending on a ghost’s self-image. Indeed, many noted experts in phantasmic psychology have commented how much you can tell of a spectre’s mental state by gauging the state of their metaphysical one. In death, we are who we pretend to be.

The default stage of a manifestation based on the memories of your body is intangible and often unnoticeable. With practice, the dedicated deceased can manipulate objects and reveal their presence to the living. You may not be truly terrifying, but one does have to start somewhere.



Why be a solid mass when you can be one in motion? This form requires a lot of concentration on the outset, but if you can get a rhythm going, this a manifestion you can carry on for centuries.

The basis of this is becoming your own gravity well. See Appendix 4, subheading 8 – “Gravity and How To Beat It.”


ADVANCED: The Poltergeist Arts

For the sake of those of over-ambitious disposition who wish to run before they can walk, the descriptions and instructions of the poltergeist arts will remain blank until the possessor of this book masters their intermediate forms. No one wants another Cynthia Bucknell.


Creepy Noises To Make Late At Night

Try these next time you want to send shivers down some unsuspecting spines.  The results may surprise you!






TERrrrrennnce (especially effective if the hauntee is named “Terrence”)



Possessing Inanimate Objects

One does not attempt to inhabit a tea kettle, rather, one allows a tea kettle to inhabit you. Find yourself opening up to everything a teakettle has to offer: its hopes, its dreams, the life experiences that causes it to whistle just so. Once you have found you understand what tea kettle truly IS, allowing yourself to exist both as the tea kettle and within it will be no trouble at all.

In order to get yourself into the proper frame of mind, do the following excercises:

  • Become nothing but corners
  • Vibrate imperceptibly
  • Corrugate
  • Interrobang
  • Bivalve your cromulence


Possessing Animate Objects

This is much, much easier than possessing inanimate objects. As you may have noticed since your demise, human beings and animals possess much smaller inner lives then they often believe, leaving you plenty of room to step in and make yourself at home.

Even an absolute novice can manipulate an entire dinner party into a chorus of Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” to pull an entirely random example.

Jadzia Axelrod

Jadzia Axelrod

Jadzia Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, and a world changer. Throughout her eventful life she has also been a circus performer, a puppeteer, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that she’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it.She is the writer and producer of “The Voice Of Free Planet X” podcast, were she interviews stranded time-travelers, low-rent superheroes, unrepentant monsters and other such creature of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as the podcasts “Aliens You Will Meet” and “Fables Of The Flying City.” The story started in “Fables Of The Flying City” is concluded in The Battle Of Blood & Ink, a graphic novel published by Tor.She is not domestic, she is a luxury, and in that sense, necessary.