51B5FGGQ84L._SL160_Well, I may be running out of examples on my list, but they manage to find me anyway. Sitting down to watch MST3K riffing on a bad old movie, I started noticing a familiar pattern. Turns out Soultaker (1990) fits the archetype pretty well – not surprising, in that you usually find GU stories in the horror section when they’re films.

Teenaged Natalie is abandoned by her friend at a fair and ends up catching a ride with some guys. For some reason, the driver starts acting crazy and the car crashes, their souls flying apart from their bodies (unbeknownst to them, and boy does it take them a long time to figure out they’re not alive anymore). So the “otherworld” she navigates is really their own world, only she no longer belongs in it. They must flee from the Soultaker, a grim reaper sort of spirit (once human) who is after their souls. He is particularly fixated on Natalie, who appears to be the reincarnation of someone he knew in life. With her one remaining companion Zach, she makes the traditional GU return home in the middle of the story, but home is no longer safe. The adversary impersonates her own mother to get closer to her.

Natalie and Zach find out that their bodies will be taken off life support at exactly midnight (for some inexplicable reason) and therefore time is running out. At the hospital, she confronts the Soultaker alone, who offers her some kind of eternal existence with him, but exposes the lies he has told her instead. However, whereas normally that is the climax in a GU story, in this one the Soultaker is still a threat and it is Zach who manages to bring them both back to life, souls intact, thereby defeating the adversary who is summarily punished by his superior (there seems to be a hierarchy in the soul-taking business).

I am very glad I was watching the MST3K version of this because otherwise I’m not sure I could have gotten through it, GU story or not.