The possibility of life after death is a significant theme in cinema, in which ghosts return to the world of the living to wrap up unfinished business, console their survivors, visit lovers or just enjoy a well-wreaked scaring. This work focuses on film depictions of survival after death, from meetings with the ghost of Elvis to AIDS-related ghosts: apparitions, hauntings, mediumship, representations of heaven, angels, near-death experiences, possession, poltergeists and all the other ways in which the living interact with the dead on screen.
The work opens with a historical perspective, which outlines the development of pre-cinematic technology for "projecting" phantoms, and discusses the use of these skills in early ghost cinema. English-language sound films are then examined thematically with topics ranging from the expiation of sins to "hungry" ghosts. Six of the most significant films, Dead of Night, A Matter of Life and Death, The Innocents, The Haunting, The Shining, and Jacob's Ladder, are given a detailed analysis. A conclusion, filmography, and bibliography follow.