Top Ten Afterlife Movies

Clint Eastwood's Hereafter tells the story of three individuals touched by death in different ways, and how each of them deals with their encounter with 'the other side'. Here's ten other movies which explore what might lie beyond the veil of death:

10. Ghost

This 1990 hit movie may have revolved around the sappy, sentimental story of eternal love between characters Sam and Molly (Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore), but the real star was Whoopi Goldberg and her portrayal of Oda Mae Brown, a fake psychic who suddenly finds that she can hear the dead. Here's the scene in which she first encounters the ghostly Sam:

9. Enter the Void

Sex, drugs and the NDE: there's nothing sappy and sentimental about this afterlife rendering. In Gaspar Noé's provocative Enter the Void, small-time drug dealer Oscar is shot by police inducing an 'astral journey' around psychedelic Tokyo. Taking inspiration from mushroom trips, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Raymond Moody's NDE bestseller Life After Life, Noé hits the viewer with sensory overload in order to portray the altered states of consciousness that Oscar encounters (including a 6 minute DMT trip) during the movie.

8. The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson's film adaptation of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones didn't fare well with the critics, not least because of what was perceived to be over-the-top CG rendering of the scenes where young Susie Salmon is stuck in the "In-Between". But considering that NDErs have described visiting paradisiacal gardens during their otherworldly journeys, perhaps Jackson wasn't too far off the mark.

7. Beetlejuice

One of Tim Burton's first hits back in 1988, Beetlejuice provided a comedic showpiece for the manic talents of Michael Keaton as the title character. In the movie, recently deceased couple Barbara and Adam (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) find that the entry into the afterlife is a bureaucratic nightmare, are assigned a case worker, and find that they have to haunt their earthly house for the next 125 years. The problem lies in getting rid of the new tenants...that's where Beetlejuice comes in.

6. Dragonfly

This 2002 movie starring Kevin Costner was poorly received by critics, although it's difficult to see why it got such harsh reviews. When his wife Emily dies, Joe (Costner) keeps getting signs that she somehow lives on, including via a near-death experience shared by a child (an interesting aspect of NDE research covered by Dr Melvin Morse). Though most of those in Joe's life reject his claims, it seems there are indeed "100 steps on the ladder of consciousness", and he goes in search of answers to the mystery...with a surprising result.

5. What Dreams May Come

This 1998 film starring Robin Williams is one of the most polarizing movies I've come across - people seem to either love it with a passion, or dislike it. Like Jackson's Lovely Bones, it features stunningly beautiful depictions of the afterlife (receiving an Academy Award for its visual effects), which may explain the love/hate opinions. Or perhaps its just the overwhelming melancholy that pervades much of the movie, given that it tells the story of a woman who loses both her children as well as her true love.

4. Defending Your Life

This Albert Brooks film (he wrote, directed and starred in the movie, along with Meryl Streep) uses the oft-mentioned idea of a 'judgement' in the afterlife as the superficial plot for a more insightful exploration of the very Earthly topics of love and fear. During the judgement, Brooks' character is in the 'waiting room' to heaven (or a train back to Earth for reincarnation), which is portrayed as a mundane copy of life. No Academy Awards for visual effects in this one.

3. Flatliners

Raymond Moody's seminal 1975 book Life After Life brought the near-death experience into the public consciousness, telling how those who had almost died sometimes experienced what seemed to be a transition to the afterlife. This 1990 movie starring Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts took it one step further, and wondered what might happen if people actively explored the near-death experience through induced death and resuscitation.

2. The Sixth Sense

Though presumably everyone on the planet has seen this one, I'll still avoid the big spoiler for The Sixth Sense. Suffice to say, there's not a lot of afterlife visions, but a whole army of earth-bound ghosts that need poor little Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) to help them move on to the Summerlands. Warning: you'll see dead people. All the time.

1. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

What better afterlife could there be? After all, it's Christmas every day in Heaven. Plus you get dinner and a show!

What others do you think should be on the list? Post your favourites in the comments section.

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red pill junkie's picture
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The Others

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu494-Dr5po

Poltergeist

See video

White Noise

See video

Always

See video

The Mothman Prophecies(*)

See video

(*)If you see the movie, you'll realize it has more to do with the afterlife than cryptozoological beings and UFOs.

There's probably more than I can think of, but I'll leave it at that.

PS: I know that if all of us start linking to Youtube, this page will take forever to load, so if it's necessary it's OK to erase the links I put in my comment.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Redoubt's picture
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Ah... 'What Dreams May Come' takes me back to a moderately younger day and a gal who still walks the halls when I'm dreaming of what may have been...

Besides that, it is a great head trip, too... lol.

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

LastLoup's picture
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lovely bones was good but the book was better. beetlejuice is my guilty pleasure on halloween :)

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

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A couple of reviews of Clint Eastwood's afterlife drama Hereafter. Firstly, AICN has a very lukewarm (and short) review, stating that Matt Damon's story is worth watching but the other two thirds just doesn't match it for quality/interest and lets the whole film down. The reviewer doesn't go into any details about the NDE/afterlife aspect, such as what Eastwood has to say about it through the stories and characters, and I'm left wondering if the reviewer is even interested in the subject matter at all.

A more positive review states that Hereafter "may not be the sci-fi drama that some moviegoers were expecting – but it’s a worthy character drama with great performances that address life’s greatest mystery."

Another 'movie critic' hated Hereafter, saying that "Hereafter keeps hinting at grand, magical ideas, only to shy away from the implications as if worried of looking silly." Of course, the review hasn't considered the fact that Eastwood doesn't know what to think about the subject, and that it may be unanswerable, hence the film's ambiguity & lack of commitment to any one stance on the subject matter.

So Hereafter looks like another movie that will polarise audiences -- a bit like the NDE/afterlife field itself.

I wonder if Matt Damon researched John Edwards, or watched Anthony Michael Hall for inspiration. ;-)

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

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Probably the worst film Eastwood has ever made. Having a triple shot latte in the theater, I still had to fight dozing off because the three storylines were so boring and the only good thing about the film's overly-contrived ending is that it finally came. Like the Eastwood's The Changeling, Hereafter dragged on for far too long. Eastwood has become much too self-indulgent these days and his films suffer for it.

I wouldn't recommend Hereafter to anyone. At least a half dozen of the other films mentioned here are far superior to this.

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I find it hard to believe anyone enjoyed The Lovely Bones movie. The book, fine, but the damn movie! My God, that shit was so disturbing, more so than any horror flick I've ever seen. After 45 minutes of it I turned it off... I had to ask myself "Who makes a movie about a little girl getting raped, murdered and dismembered and then make the audience watch everything that happens after including her going to 'heaven' and her killer taking a bath in her blood?" Peter Jackson. Dude, leave books alone, except for The Hobbit you need to finish that movie ASAP. /sigh and /end rant

The Meaning of Life... One of the best movies ever made, this includes all other civilizations to exist or have existed in this Universe.

"We're all puppets, Jesus. I'm just the one that sees the strings, the stage, the puppetmaster, and the audience." Exerpt from a dialog Jesus and I had in your kitchen a week ago • • •*• •°•

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Flatliners was not the only movie with an afterlife theme with Kevin Bacon. In 1999 he did make Stir of Echoes which I think is pretty good. Probably much because he starts out as a die hard sceptic but soon gets to eat his own words.

See video

And Beetlejuice is not the only afterlife movie with Michael Keaton. I think White Noise is worth mentioning too.

See video

Unfortunately are the sequels to these movies not as good as the originals.

Not to mention the movie that soon made it's star meet the afterlife sooner than he thought - The Crow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSzo-F9fIbU

My final entry may sound more like an horror movie or a remake of the 1932 movie with the same name but in truth this is more like a family/adventure movie. It's also the only non-Hollywood production. The international title of this danish movie is Island Of The Lost Souls. This first shorter trailer is subtitled but I also found another longer accompanied by only music.

See video

See video

See video

LastLoup's picture
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I think it is safe to say that it should be at least a top 20 list.
...and did people forget about this:

See video

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

red pill junkie's picture
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I didn't forget about it. I just didn't include in my list because I haven't actually seen the film ;)

One film I did see, and enjoyed very much, was directed by Peter Jackson. Before Lovely Bones and even the Ring trilogy, he did a fun & terrorizing little film called The Frighteners.

See video

One of Michael J. Fox's finest moments IMO

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I enjoyed the movie, the story it told... but without taking any appreciation of the crime it portrays or the criminal pervert.

Stories are layered sometimes, with horrible events as a setting but with a deeper meaning that involves our fellow humans in impossible predicaments... often the victims. Examples are stories like the Diary of Anne Frank or even Karen Silkwood.

We don't celebrate the crimes against these people... we try to step into their shoes and understand the things they experienced.

The Lovely Bones was not just about the guy who was a neighborhood recluse and ultimately, a murderer and rapist. It was about a young woman who looked back from the beyond.

It's just a personal opinion but... I found nothing that made this a simple scare flick. It was deeper than that.

:)

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Rick MG's picture
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At #11 is George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead.

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

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Jacob's Ladder starring Tim Robbins. Unfortunately, I had seen this not too long before Sixth Sense, so the big "twist" at the end of Sixth Sense was not so for me. Still love both movies.

See video
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smmoulder wrote:

Jacob's Ladder starring Tim Robbins. Unfortunately, I had seen this not too long before Sixth Sense, so the big "twist" at the end of Sixth Sense was not so for me. Still love both movies.

Actually took this off my list because I thought it would be the ultimate spoiler. Along with a certain David Lynch film with Naomi Watts in it.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

red pill junkie's picture
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Yesterday I thought of another one: Field of Dreams

See video

Makes you wonder what happens AFTER the movie ends...

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Here are a couple of good ones.

"After Life" 1998 (Japan)

See video

"Wristcutters: A Live Story" 2006

See video

Also three even more obscure cool movies

"Outward Bound" 1930
Based on a play. Passengers on an ocean liner find themselves going on a mysterious journey

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/index.jsp?c...

"Between Two Worlds" 1944 (based on the same stage play as the first movie)

See video

"Haunts of the Very Rich" 1972
Great hard to find made for television movie. Similiar plot with a twist. Here is the opening scene

See video

kamarling's picture
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A couple of lighter selections:

Heaven Can Wait - I like the Warren Beatty version (1978).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077663/

A Matter of Life and Death (1946). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038733/

kamarling's picture
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kamarling wrote:

A couple of lighter selections:

Heaven Can Wait - I like the Warren Beatty version (1978).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077663/

A Matter of Life and Death (1946). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038733/

I watched this one a couple of days ago ... thought it belongs on this list too:

See video

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While it doesn't have the "meat" of many of the movies already mentioned, a personal favorite when I am in the mood for a romantic comedy is "Chances Are."

If you missed it, here's the clip,

See video

prismeyes1226's picture
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See video

How come everyone forgot this one?

My face is set, my gait is fast, my objective is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

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One recalls more titles after a while. One almost forgotten gem is Douglas Trumbull's Brainstorm from 1983.

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I've never played any of the games but this movie is simply just awesome!

See video

LastLoup's picture
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Yes the Final Fantasy movie! I had forgotten. In my opinion it is still the best movie in 3D ever that was completely animated.

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

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LastLoup, yes I love that movie. If I'll ever get around to play any of the games it is because of this movie. I didn't like much the sequel called Final Fantasy VII. The hair is spectacular but that is about it. The story really suck and isn't as touching as in the first movie. The Spirits Within is a real gem. It beats all other realistically cgi movies. Beowulf didn't even came close. There was also a Resident Evil movie but not as good as this one.

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Wristcutters: A Love Story is my favorite afterlife movie. Indie, but better than all the rest :)

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lavinia's picture
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Truly, Madly, Deeply (my fave)
and the more recent Passengers.

~lavinia~

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A Matter Of Life And Death (1946):

See video

emlong's picture
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I am growing weary of the term "afterlife." Clearly what continues on aside from automatic "residuals" is still "life."

LastLoup's picture
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Albeit either reincarnation or going into the earth and becoming the grass that grows around your tombstone. although i do like the idea that Plato puts forth in "The Republic" of a "system" in which the soul must go through before attaining a next life. I'd like to think the universe has some order.

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

WarSpike's picture
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Good listing! Check out my shortlist of some off the beaten path afterlife movies.

http://www.squidoo.com/afterlife-movies

emlong's picture
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"Solaris" the film and the book by Stanislaw Lem is high on my personal list. Lem is my favorite scifi author and thinker in general. Solaris is one of those metaphysical nightmares that really gets to some people.

See video

Of course, I am also a fan of the series A Haunting, The Haunted, Paranormal Witness, Long Island Medium, My Ghost Story. Ghostly Encounters, Celebrity Ghost Stories, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunter, Haunted Collector, et. al.

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I like what dreams may come

red pill junkie's picture
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I watched it just a few weeks ago on Netflix. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Right after it I watched Hook. It made me cry now even more than when I saw it the first time :(

PS: Welcome to The Grail ^_^

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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The documentary "Wake Up."

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red pill junkie's picture
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Not sure it fits the Afterlife movie list, but it sure is one HECK of a great documentary ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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"Afterlife" in the sense that Elrod sees spirits who are on the "other side." I suppose that expands the definition of the category too much though since we don't get vivid descriptions of what these spirits are really thinking or doing other than hanging about.

I was fascinated with Elrod's description of what it is like for someone like him to walk down a crowded street in New York City. It is an overwhelming barrage of spirit encounters. That is the same thing one hears from real mediums like Caputo, Russo, Rosie Cippiro and others who can either see or sense the spirits that are apparently floating around people everywhere all the time. When this crowd of disembodied spirits detects someone like a medium they get very excited because they have a potential mouthpiece to express to the living some urgent messages for the living. They grab at the medium like paparazzi mobbing a movie star.

red pill junkie's picture
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Do we know what happened to him after he made the docu?

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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He has some other Youtubes, but I haven't looked at them

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Because I'm a Miyazaki nerd...and damn proud of it :P

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...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

red pill junkie's picture
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If anything, it goes to show we Westerners still hold a very parochial view of the afterlife ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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