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Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 64,928 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 333 user | 93 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam war veteran attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.

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Title: Jacob's Ladder (1990)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Brent Hinkley ...
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Hospital Receptionist
Doug Barron ...
Group Leader
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Storyline

New York postal worker Jacob Singer is trying to keep his frayed life from unraveling. His days are increasingly being invaded by flashbacks to his first marriage, his now-dead son, and his tour of duty in Vietnam. Athough his new wife tries to help Jacob keep his grip on sanity, the line between reality and delusion is steadily growing more and more uncertain. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer's nightmare is that he isn't dreaming.

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jacobs Nightmare  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$26,118,851 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In Bruce Joel Rubin's original screenplay, all of the demons who appear throughout the film were typical biblical demons with horns, wings, cloven hooves etc. Director Adrian Lyne felt that this kind of imagery could very easily come across as comic, which would destroy the film. He felt that the fact that the imagery was so far from human lessened its impact, and as such, he decided he wanted the demons to be humanesque, but not quite human. During his research into this (which was when he discovered the photography of Joel-Peter Witkin), Lyne came across the Thalidomide scandal. Thalidomide was a drug made available for purchase from 1957 to 1961. Ostensibly, it was designed to treat pregnant women; primarily as an antiemetic to combat morning sickness, and secondarily as a sleeping aid. However, prior to its release, inadequate clinical tests were carried out, leading to roughly 10,000 children in Africa and Europe being born with severe physical deformities because their mothers had taken thalidomide during their pregnancy. The most common defects were phocomelia, dysmelia, amelia and polymelia; all conditions which affect the appearance of the limbs. During his research, Lyne studied the Thalidomide case, and came to feel that the birth defects caused by the drug represented the perfect starting place for his redesign of Rubin's demons. The Thalidomide scandal was also the inspiration for David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981). See more »

Goofs

Numerous times, most noticeable in a mirror. See more »

Quotes

Jezebel: Jake, New York is filled with creatures.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits roll over a grainy black and white photo of Gabe and Jacob crossing the street together. See more »

Connections

Featured in Building 'Jacob's Ladder' (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

SONNY BOY
Written by Buddy G. DeSylva (as B.G. de Silva) / Lew Brown (as L. Brown) / Ray Henderson (as R. Henderson) / Al Jolson (as A. Jolson)
Published by Warner Bros. Music (ASCAP)
Performed by Al Jolson
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

More to be felt through than thought through.
13 October 2001 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

After reading several reviews on this film I thought I would add my two cents. This remains one of my favorite movies and I never hesitate to take in another viewing. A lot of people seem to be noting the loose script and story elements as the film's weaknesses, going so far as to call it messy and incoherent. The fact that even after seeing it several times there's still some mystery in it, still some ambiguity as to the possible meanings to all of the things that go on with Jacob, is what I find most appealing. It's not a film like the Sixth Sense where all of the pieces fall into place at just the right time and you know exactly where you stand. It's something rather that is left to the imagination of the viewer, a rare thing when audiences en mass want clear cut explanations and easy answers (hence the success of Sixth Sense, a great film in it's own right, but the complete opposite of this one).

The visuals are incredible and highly influential. The techniques used in this film have since been overused and distilled throughout various horror movies and music videos, but without ever coming close to the power of the original, which presents some of the most psychologically terrifying images ever to appear on screen. I think it's hard to come to this movie for the first time today and experience it the way you could have eleven years ago, when these type of images had yet to be seen and were exposed to completely unsuspecting audiences. The best way to see this movie is with absolutely no knowledge of it beforehand.

The mood is perfect. The acting is great, the dialogue is outstanding. Danny Aielo explaining to Jacob about angels and demons still moves me to this date and the two simple words suddenly spoken to a disbelieving Jacob from some unseen source while in the Asylum scene still terrify like no other movie can. Also this may be the Home Alone kid's best film.

The extra scenes on the DVD range from average to terrifying, including the omitted "antidote" scene, something I'm glad I didn't see when I was younger because it might have scarred me for life :). Also there is a perplexing and scary scene omitted at the end where Jacob confronts Jezebel. There is alot of digital grain in some of the shots. I would like to see a better quality DVD put out for this one, but I'll take what I can get with the added scenes.

See this movie then see it again and then see it three years later. Don't over-analyze and worry if some of it doesn't make sense, after all it's not all supposed to.


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