In Flatliners, Joel Schumacher’s Oscar-nominated thriller, A-listers Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon, alongside Oliver Platt, are medical students who dabble with the unknown, attempting to find the answer to that eternal question – what happens after you die?
In doing so they unleash dark forces that they can’t control, and to celebrate the release of this dark, 90s classic on Special Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray from Arrow Video, and read our review here, here’s a selection of films that deal with out-of-body experiences, transcendent journeys and attempts to contact the spiritual world, that suggest that sometimes it’s better not to know what lies beyond the mortal realm – or deep within the human mind!
ALTERED STATES (1980)
William Hurt plays a Harvard professor attempting to unearth genetic memories in Ken Russell’s adaptation of acclaimed writer Paddy Chayefsky’s novel. Using hallucinogenic drugs and sensory deprivation, he aims to burrow deep into his own psyche, and in doing so to shed light on the very origins of mankind. Unfortunately, these intense and often terrifying ‘altered states’ that he finds himself in are unstable, and uncontrollable – and it becomes apparent will have dangerous consequences for him and those around him.
David Cronenberg’s outstanding sci-fi horror mindbender (released on 4K UHD by Arrow in October) sees Max Renn (played by James Woods) as a TV producer looking for fresh new content for his channel when he happens across some illegal S&M-style broadcasts called ‘Videodrome’. Embroiling his girlfriend Nicki (Debbie Harry) in his search for the source, his journey begins to blur the lines between reality and fantasy as he works his way through sadomasochistic games, shady organisations and body transformations stunningly realised by the Oscar-winning makeup effects artist Rick Baker.
At the University Hospital School of Medicine, five ambitious students subject themselves to a daring experiment: to temporarily induce their own deaths, hoping to glimpse the afterlife before being brought back to life. But as competition within the group intensifies and their visions of the world beyond increasingly bleed into their waking lives, they’re about to learn that the greatest threat comes not from the spirit world but from the long-suppressed secrets of their own pasts…
JACOB’S LADDER (1990)
In director Adrian Lyne’s acclaimed thriller, written by Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) , a Vietnam veteran, now a postman in New York, is plagued by disturbing hallucinations and flashbacks that are gradually eroding his tenuous grip on reality and sanity. Is he suffering from post traumatic stress – or is there something more sinister afoot that is causing his mind to unravel?
WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998)
Based on the novel by Richard Matheson, this striking fantasy stars Robin Williams as a man who has died in a car accident and gone to Heaven, who discovers his wife has killed herself out of grief – and so he embarks on a journey through the afterlife to try and find her and save her from damnation.
STIR OF ECHOES (1999)
Flatliners’ Kevin Bacon stars as a man who lets himself be hypnotised by his sister-in-law for a bit of fun at a party – not bargaining on it prompting visions of the ghost of a young girl. Also based on a book by Matheson, this spine-tingler sees Bacon attempting to find out how the girl died in order to put the disturbing visions to rest.
WHITE NOISE (2005)
Michael Keaton is a widowed man determined to discover if there is an afterlife – if only so he can make contact with his wife. Unfortunately, in this nerve-wracking chiller, Keaton’s growing obsession with ‘electronic voice phenomena’, whereby you hear a dead person’s voice through radio or television waves, spirals out of control, as the messages from beyond start to threaten his own life.
THE JACKET (2005)
This twist-filled cross between Jacob’s Ladder and Flatliners sees a Gulf war veteran (Adrien Brody) sent to a secure institution after being wrongly accused of murder, and becoming subject to unorthodox experiments by a doctor who straps Brody in a straightjacket and locks him a mortuary drawer, where he undergoes terrifying visions of the future and his own death.