Flatliners (James Newton Howard)

Director Joel Schumacher continued his love of the pop Gothic cinema in 1990's "Flatliners". A modern riff on the 'Frankenstein' formula, with a group of young medical students who attempt to discover the secrets of the after-life by inducing clinical near-death experiences. The film is dripping with Schumacher's grandiose style, and is a campy treat for fans of psychological horror. It also marked the director's first collaboration with composer James Newton Howard. The score for this film has never been officially released, though there was a limited bootleg in existence years ago. The score marks a transitional point in JNH's career, bridging the gap between his earlier pop/rock synthetic scores, and the larger orchestral/choral fantasy that he would soon come to master.

This project began a few months back, as one of my first cover commissions. My friend Jon Broxton from MovieMusicUK was reviewing the score, and wanted a new cover, as there's been plenty of fan covers over the years, but mostly pretty terrible. I made the first cover in the set, but then didn't actually post it on my site now that I have this dreadful habit of only releasing things in larger cover sets. I decided to pull it back out, give it a quick polish, and create another three covers to go along with it. 

The first cover is pretty standard, adapting the film's central theatrical poster, designed by the great John Henry Alvin. This is the same basic art that has been used on all the previous bootleg covers, though they all feel pretty dated. I simply had to recreate the title, add more elegant text work, add a bit of cushion to the top of the image for better head-room. The last step was to find a free EKG-heartline vector to that echoed the style of the original.

Cover #2 uses another major poster, the art here feels pretty dated, though I like the color variety. Inexplicably, the original poster has the lead characters' faces stretched to a ridiculous degree--I guess this is meant to imply some ghostly effect... Either way, I elected to stretch them back into more human proportions, which better fitted the space anyways. Has a bit of a moody, vintage feel that I kinda dig.

The third cover uses the art from the steelbook Blu-Ray edition. Fairly simple, just had to clone out the actor's credits, match the new font style, and that was about it. It certainly feels much more modern and minimal, but simple elegance is a nice change sometimes. There was actually a second steelbook casing, whose design I really liked, but all the scans were lousy, and ultimately I didn't feel like spending countless hours trying to resurrect this, only to still end up with a grainy, low-resolution image. A shame, as the overall look is really cool.

Cover #4 uses the Blu-ray cover. The art here is a strange blend of trying to be modern, but still feeling pretty dated, but I usually try to honor the intention of the art and make it work. This took a bit of work, as I had to stitch together several different poster/cover files and scans to try to get the widest image with most detail, and I probably made a mess of all my layers and filters, trying to blend them all together, and patch in the cracks in the background. In the end, I just had to shrink and reposition the scene in the bottom left of the image, and then drag over the text I'd created previously to fit into a different composition.

Hope you enjoy these covers, and that one day we might get an official expanded release of this score. Let me know your favorite pick below. 

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