Flatliners (1990)

R | 114 mins | Drama | 10 August 1990

Director:

Joel Schumacher

Writer:

Peter Filardi

Cinematographer:

Jan de Bont

Editor:

Robert Brown

Production Designer:

Eugenio Zanetti

Production Company:

Stonebridge Entertainment
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HISTORY

End credits have the following information: “Special thanks to: Loyola University Chicago; Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry; Illinois Film Office—Al Cohn, Chicago Office of Film & Entertainment.”
       Columbia Pictures-based producer Scott Rudin outbid the studio by paying $400,000 for the original Flatliners screenplay, the 15 May 1990 and 26 May 1989 DV reported. Accusing Rudin of violating his studio contract, Columbia acquired the script from him for the $400,000 sales price and handed the project to Michael Douglas and Rick Bieber’s Stonebridge Entertainment. Rudin was listed in the final film as one of three executive producers.
       According to studio production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began in Chicago, IL, on 23 Oct 1989 and ended at The Burbank Studios in Los Angeles, CA, on 22 Jan 1990. The film’s dozen Chicago locations, shot during the first two weeks of production, included the exteriors of the Lake Shore campus of Loyola University (the opening sequence) and the Museum of Science and Industry (standing in for the fictional “Taft Building” where the medical experiments take place). The interior of the building was built at The Burbank Studios. Director Joel Schumacher told the 8 Aug 1990 Chicago Tribune he constructed “a large promenade set on the lakeshore campus at Loyola University, and then used matte paintings to connect the set and the campus exterior with Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.”
       The 5 Aug 1990 Chicago Sun-Times noted that Peter Filardi located his original Flatliners screenplay in Boston, MA, where he wrote it. A year earlier, executive producer Michael Rachmil told the 23 Jul 1989 Chicago Tribune ... More Less

End credits have the following information: “Special thanks to: Loyola University Chicago; Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry; Illinois Film Office—Al Cohn, Chicago Office of Film & Entertainment.”
       Columbia Pictures-based producer Scott Rudin outbid the studio by paying $400,000 for the original Flatliners screenplay, the 15 May 1990 and 26 May 1989 DV reported. Accusing Rudin of violating his studio contract, Columbia acquired the script from him for the $400,000 sales price and handed the project to Michael Douglas and Rick Bieber’s Stonebridge Entertainment. Rudin was listed in the final film as one of three executive producers.
       According to studio production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began in Chicago, IL, on 23 Oct 1989 and ended at The Burbank Studios in Los Angeles, CA, on 22 Jan 1990. The film’s dozen Chicago locations, shot during the first two weeks of production, included the exteriors of the Lake Shore campus of Loyola University (the opening sequence) and the Museum of Science and Industry (standing in for the fictional “Taft Building” where the medical experiments take place). The interior of the building was built at The Burbank Studios. Director Joel Schumacher told the 8 Aug 1990 Chicago Tribune he constructed “a large promenade set on the lakeshore campus at Loyola University, and then used matte paintings to connect the set and the campus exterior with Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.”
       The 5 Aug 1990 Chicago Sun-Times noted that Peter Filardi located his original Flatliners screenplay in Boston, MA, where he wrote it. A year earlier, executive producer Michael Rachmil told the 23 Jul 1989 Chicago Tribune that he and director Joel Schumacher first visited Boston, but “I won’t make this movie there. I hated the place.”
       Flatliners opened with a $10 million weekend and grossed $32.3 million in three weeks, the 15 Aug 1990 HR and Oct 1990 Box reported. The 26 Feb 1991 HR noted that the film was an international box office success. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1990.
---
Chicago Sun-Times
5 Aug 1990
p. 2
Chicago Tribune
23 Jul 1989
Arts section, p. 2
Chicago Tribune
8 Aug 1990
Tempo section, p. 1
Daily Variety
26 May 1989
p. 1, 27
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1989
p. 1, 22
Daily Variety
15 May 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1990
p. 5, 13
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1990
Section F, p. 1
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 1990
Section F, p. 4
New York Times
10 Aug 1990
p. 6
Premiere
Jun 1990
pp. 125, 126, 129
Variety
1 Aug 1990
p. 67
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
a Stonebridge Entertainment Production
a Joel Schumacher Film
A Columbia Pictures Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Best boy grip
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Set des
Set des
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Asst to cost des
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus supv
Addl orch by
Addl orch by
Scoring mixer
Conductor
Conductor, Choir
Conductor, Boys choir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Opticals and titles by
Spec eff, Chicago crew
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
Spec make-up eff by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Schumacher
Asst to Mr. Schumacher
Asst to Mr. Rachmil
Asst to Mr. Rachmil
Asst to Mr. Douglas
Asst to Mr. Bieber
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Voice casting
Animal trainer
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
Casting asst
Asst prod coord, Chicago crew
Chicago loc mgr, Chicago crew
Transportation coord, Chicago crew
Transportation co-capt, Chicago crew
Extras casting, Chicago crew
Medical consultant
STAND INS
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Party Town," written and performed by Dave Stewart, courtesy of BMG Records (UK) Ltd.
"The Clapping Song," written by Lincoln Chase.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 August 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 August 1990
New York opening: week of 10 August 1990
Production Date:
23 October 1989--22 January 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Halley Film Enterprises
Copyright Date:
13 September 1990
Copyright Number:
PA479397
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
114
Length(in feet):
10,264
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30218
SYNOPSIS

Medical student Nelson Wright announces to himself, “Today’s a good day to die.” Fellow third-year med student Dave Labraccio gets into trouble when he begins to operate on a patient in the hospital’s emergency room before the attending surgeon arrives. Another student, Rachel Mannus, leads a group of patients discussing their near-death experiences. A housewife claims she floated into a tunnel of light, but a voice called her back. Later, Nelson convinces Dave, Rachel, Joe Hurley, and Randall Steckle to join his “flatline” experiment. That night, they wheel a heart monitor and other medical equipment into the medical school’s empty Taft Building, which is undergoing renovation. As Joe videotapes the proceedings, the students hook Nelson up to EKG (electrocardiogram) and EEG (electroencephalograph) machines that register his heart and brain activity. They cover him with an adjustable refrigerator blanket, give him nitrous oxide gas, inject him with Sodium Pentothal, and “take him down to flatline,” or physical death, by jolting him with 200 joules of electricity. The electronic lines on the monitors go flat when brain and heart activity stop. Dave Labraccio arrives after Nelson goes “into flatline.” In his mind, Nelson watches himself run with other children and his boyhood dog, Champ. A minute later, the medical students raise Nelson’s temperature with the blanket, inject adrenaline, and restore him to life with a defibrillator. Rachel and Joe volunteer to be the next subjects the following night by bidding against each other for how much more time they are willing to spend in “death” before being brought back. Later, Nelson tells Dave Labraccio he can still “feel something” strange. Left alone, Nelson sees walls light up, and Champ, his dog, ... +


Medical student Nelson Wright announces to himself, “Today’s a good day to die.” Fellow third-year med student Dave Labraccio gets into trouble when he begins to operate on a patient in the hospital’s emergency room before the attending surgeon arrives. Another student, Rachel Mannus, leads a group of patients discussing their near-death experiences. A housewife claims she floated into a tunnel of light, but a voice called her back. Later, Nelson convinces Dave, Rachel, Joe Hurley, and Randall Steckle to join his “flatline” experiment. That night, they wheel a heart monitor and other medical equipment into the medical school’s empty Taft Building, which is undergoing renovation. As Joe videotapes the proceedings, the students hook Nelson up to EKG (electrocardiogram) and EEG (electroencephalograph) machines that register his heart and brain activity. They cover him with an adjustable refrigerator blanket, give him nitrous oxide gas, inject him with Sodium Pentothal, and “take him down to flatline,” or physical death, by jolting him with 200 joules of electricity. The electronic lines on the monitors go flat when brain and heart activity stop. Dave Labraccio arrives after Nelson goes “into flatline.” In his mind, Nelson watches himself run with other children and his boyhood dog, Champ. A minute later, the medical students raise Nelson’s temperature with the blanket, inject adrenaline, and restore him to life with a defibrillator. Rachel and Joe volunteer to be the next subjects the following night by bidding against each other for how much more time they are willing to spend in “death” before being brought back. Later, Nelson tells Dave Labraccio he can still “feel something” strange. Left alone, Nelson sees walls light up, and Champ, his dog, approaches, whimpering, with a bandaged rear leg. Meanwhile, Joe Hurley makes a secret video of himself having sex with a woman. Later, as he watches a videotape of his engagement party, he telephones his fiancée, Anne Coldren, and starts to say, “if anything should happen…,” but he cannot complete the sentence. Anne becomes frightened. Meanwhile, Nelson suffers nightmares. On the following night, as Joe Hurley flatlines, he sees a procession of the lovers he secretly videotaped. Returned to life, Joe describes death as “erotic.” Dave Labraccio, an atheist, believes the visions have nothing to do with an afterlife, but rather are lingering electrical impulses. To make the point that he is the experiment’s rational “control” subject, Dave outbids Rachel to be the next flatliner, willing to stay dead for two minutes, twenty seconds. Later, Nelson asks Joe Hurley if he felt anything negative during his flatline time, but Joe answers no. Meanwhile, Nelson walks through an alley of derelicts and enters a subway, where he hears Champ’s whimpering and follows the dog into a deserted corridor. Suddenly, a young boy kicks Nelson between the legs and beats him up. Meanwhile, as Joe Hurley tries to seduce a student named Terry, he sees one of his private sex videotapes playing on a nearby television, and the woman on the screen asks, “Why did you do this to me, Joe?” Later, at home, Nelson stitches a gash on his face. On the following night, as Dave Labraccio flatlines, Joe looks at one of the monitors and sees himself having sex with a woman, who looks at the camera and says, “I trusted you, Joe.” Dave soars over snowy mountains, then enters a subway tunnel and sees a young black girl. After Dave’s revival, Rachel volunteers for the following night. As Joe Hurley walks home with Randall Steckle, women on store window TV screens talk to him. When Nelson Wright arrives home, the young boy from the subway hits him with a club. Meanwhile, Dave tries to talk Rachel out of flatlining, but she refuses to back out. The next day at the hospital, Mrs. Amsler, an elderly terminal patient, tells Rachel that she has not accepted her death, even though she hears friendly voices welcoming her to an afterlife. Rachel assures her that what the voices say is correct. Elsewhere, Dave rides an elevated train that goes into a tunnel. The black girl he saw earlier steps forward and hisses a dozen curses at him, while other passengers laugh. Dave snaps out of his reverie and the girl is gone. That night, Nelson explains his battered appearance by telling the others he was injured playing hockey. After they put Rachel under, she sees her five-year-old self at her Vietnam veteran father’s “welcome home party.” As he picks her up in his arms, Rachel notices that his eyes are dead. She walks upstairs to a half-closed bathroom door and sees him inside. Her father runs outside to his car and shoots himself. The other students have a hard time bringing Rachel back, and by the time she revives, she has been flatlining for five minutes. Afterward, Dave tells the others that something strange is happening. He explains that he is seeing Winnie Hicks, a ten-year-old black girl he and his friends taunted in elementary school for being ugly. He made her cry on the playground, and now she is cursing him. Joe confesses seeing video images of women he made love to. Nelson admits that the person who beat him up is a boy he knew named Billy Mahoney. He surmises that they have revived childhood “sins.” Steckle is angry that Nelson did not mention this earlier, before the others flatlined. That night, Rachel sees her father in her apartment. Nelson dreams that he, his boyhood friends, and Champ have chased Billy up a tree. They taunt the boy and throw rocks. Suddenly, Nelson looks up and sees Billy standing over him. The boy hits him in the face. In the morning, an anguished Rachel goes to see Mrs. Amsler, but the old woman has died. Meanwhile, Dave revisits the playground of his youth and watches children play. Elsewhere, as Joe walks into his apartment building, a dozen women try to entice him using his old “pickup lines.” Joe’s fiancée, Anne Coldren, is waiting in his apartment. She came home because she was frightened by his telephone call, then found his cache of videotapes and watched them. Disgusted by his lack of honesty with her and all the others, Anne calls off their engagement and walks out. Dave Labraccio, meanwhile, telephones Winnie Hicks’s family and learns that she lives two hours away. With Nelson riding along, Dave drives to see her. The other three students are in vivisection class when Rachel is astonished to discover that her cadaver is her father. He sits up, looks at her, and she runs. At Winnie Hicks’s house, Dave meets a well-adjusted, married horticulturalist. She cannot remember being teased, and wonders why Dave came so far to see her, but thanks him for remembering her and making amends. Outside, in Dave’s truck, Billy Mahoney attacks Nelson with a pick-axe, but when Dave opens the door, he sees only Nelson struggling against himself. Later, at the Taft Building, Rachel tells the others she is seeing her father, and blames Nelson for not alerting her to the nightmares. Feeling absolved of sins by his meeting with Winnie, Dave volunteers to help Nelson find Billy Mahoney and apologize. Later, when Rachel tells Dave about her father’s suicide, he is unable to figure out what she could have done as a little girl that she needs to atone for, and tries to convince Rachel that her father wants her to let him go. Meanwhile, Joe Hurley and Steckle take Nelson to his old neighborhood, but he runs away. They find him in a cemetery, sitting next to Billy Mahoney’s grave. Nelson says, “I put him here.” He explains that after he and his friends drove Billy up a tree, the limb broke and Billy was killed. The falling limb also crippled Nelson’s dog. Though Nelson was sent away to a special school, he never made amends for what he did. Later, Nelson telephones Rachel’s apartment and informs her and Dave that he plans to flatline again. Dave rushes out of the apartment, but Rachel goes into another room and sees her mother ironing. She retraces her steps upstairs and finds her father injecting himself with heroin. He is ashamed that his five-year-old daughter has seen it, but Rachel forgives him. Dave picks up Joe and Steckle and rushes to the Taft Building, where Nelson has already placed the refrigerated blanket over himself, injected Sodium Pentathol, and breathed nitrous oxide. In Nelson’s dream, Billy and the other boys chase him up the tree and throw rocks at him. As the other students arrive, they do not know how long Nelson has been under, and cannot revive him. Dave apologizes to God for intruding into sacred territory. In a dream, Billy smiles at Nelson, forgiving him. Dave tries to revive Nelson one last time, and brings him back to life. Nelson whispers that it is not such a good day to die after all, and the others are overjoyed to have him back. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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