Friday October 28th at my place
7:30 - 8:00 -- 30 minutes of trailers, interviews, film clips, parodies, etc. inspired by tonight's film selections.
8:00 - 9:45 -- Jacob's Ladder (1990) / Dir: Adrian Lyne
I've been busy of late so pardon the lateness of the invite. This month's film selection is 1990's underrated (in my opinion) psychological horror film Jacob's Ladder. With the back to back successes of Flash Dance, 9 1/2 Weeks and Fatal Attraction director Lyne shot to the top of the Hollywood A-list and proved himself to be the leading purveyor of high profile erotica for the mass market sugared over with glossy production values and big name stars. Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin had just inexplicably won the Oscar for Ghost, another high concept thriller wrapped around a much publicized sex scene. Either man probably had his pick of projects but they chose Jacob's Ladder; a disturbing genre exercise that was a refreshing break from the trend of slasher films loaded with lithe, disposable teen flesh.
Instead, they focused on the travails of Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins), a quiet postal worker with very real, adult problems. Jacob served in Viet Nam and returned with combat injuries and a case of post traumatic stress. The tragic death of his only child spurs the disintegration of Jacob's marriage and, quite possibly, his mind. With the help of his new girlfriend (Elizabeth Peña) and a kindly chiropractor (Danny Aiello) Jacob begins to put his past behind him and start a new life. That is, until he begins to flashback to the horrors of the war and begins witnessing grotesque, demonic figures.
Audiences expecting the illicit thrills of Lyne's prior work or the feel-good supernatural romance of Ghost were disappointed. While it wasn't a dismal failure at the box office the film split audiences and critics alike and neither Lyne nor Rubin ever ventured again into such disturbing material. Returning to the leering sexuality of his previous films, Lyne's next feature was the critically panned box office hit Indecent Proposal and his less successful adaptation of Lolita. Rubin's later scripts would occasionally feature supernatural or fantastical elements but nothing remotely as dark and graphic as Jacob's Ladder. To my mind, Jacob's Ladder is the peak of both men's career and is a well-crafted chiller that continues to resonate and influence the genre.