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Jacob's Ladder- Horror Movie Review- (Day 29 of 31)- October Massacre

Jacob's Ladder- Horror Movie Review- (Day 29 of 31)- October Massacre
10.29.2014by: Jake Dee
8 10

PLOT: After returning from Vietnam, a deeply disturbed war veteran tries to re-assimilate himself back into normalcy. However, as he becomes increasingly plagued by tormenting visions and mysteriously altered perceptions, an irreparably mortifying truth about the man's true fate is revealed.

REVIEW: Goddamn do I love annually climbing the psychological rungs of JACOB'S LADDER! Who's with me? What a disturbingly dizzying and dazzling mind-f*ck of a flick, right?! My lord! Just an unshakably bizarre purgatorial mélange of twisted nightmares and hallucinatory dreamscapes, fragmented memories and angst-riddled recollections, lost thoughts and fevered tangential ruminations. A movie that, once that long-held shocker of final shot cuts to black...your jaw drops, your brain scrambles, and your mouth involuntarily mutters...WHAT. THE. FUCK. And then of course, you hand imperceptibly pounds the damn rewind button!

Now, first off, a heartfelt RIP to the late great Elizabeth Pena is in order here. Not only for her very recent passing at the all too young age of 55, but because of how one could argue she plays the most importantly telling character in JACOB'S LADDER. After-all, it's largely through her and her ghastly supernatural transformations that, for good or bad, steer old Jacob toward the light. Without her, how could Jacob begin to piece together the clues of his own moribundity? Could he? She's largely the driving force behind his ultimate enlightenment, but it's in the subtle performance of Pena that never tips her hand one way or the other until the apt third act reveal. She plays it close to the vest, acting as conduit to both sides of Jacob's consciousness, which almost entirely sells the mystery of the flick. I really feel she's one of the primary reasons the flicks is do damn effective!

But one can't rattle about JACOB'S LADDER without bringing up the superb direction of Adrian Lyne and glaring star-power of Tim Robbins. Wow, did these dudes commit! Here's a completely uncompromised vision, a risk taken independently outside the studio system, executed with unflinching ambiguity and an unhappy resolution. These kinds of flicks simply aren't made anymore, and if they are, they're often sadly marginalized down into direct-to-disc obscurity. But no mistaking it, JACOB'S LADDER is a bold stroke of sheer psychological terror, made so with A-caliber talent all around. And even under the eerie, sexy, mysterious genre stylings, the movie's larger theme regarding war vets and the physical and psychological damage incurred...in battle and back at home...is really a trenchant one. In that regard the flick takes a pretty unique bent, and only adds another subtle layer to a movie more reliant on jarring visuals and spastic editing to disrupt the viewer. What do you know, the ladder is multileveled!

BEST TNA SCENE: With all due respect to the memory of Ms. Pena, her infamous demonic dance-floor rape-job is the stuff of cinematic lore! Shite's HEAT! In a sort of eye-opening crescendo of violent hallucinations, Jacob witnesses his girlfriend get - oddly, violently, arousingly - molested by some kind horned, blood-covered mutant-monster. It's crazy! He's repulsed, she's turned-on, and between those two poles and the hypnotic flickering strobe-work Lyne lights the scene with, we're pretty much left fucking flattened!

BEST GORE BIT: Has to be the jarring wheelchair stroll through the gore-sodden sanitarium. Yikeseees! Shot in a shaky hand-held first-person cam, we see the horrors as Jacob sees them, with gory body parts strewn across the floor, mental inmates acting bat-shit insane, a convulsive quadriplegic in a weird sort of straitjacket, etc. Shite's intense!

HALOWEEN DRINKING GAME: Pump a hard rip of the bottle every time:

  • A Vietnam flashback is shown
  • A reptilian tail appears onscreen
  • A blurred/scrambled face appears

GET JACOB'S LADDER ON BLU-RAY HERE

Extra Tidbit: JACOB'S LADDER was written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who also wrote GHOST, BRAINSTORM and DEADLY FRIEND.

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