Stoner Cinema: Jacob's Ladder

Stoner Cinema: Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

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Some folks like movies; some folks like marijuana. For the people who enjoy both those pastimes, makes recommendations for movies you should watch while high—we like to call ’em Tasty Nuggets for a Smokin’ Movie Night! In our latest Stoner Cinema blog spotlighting movies you can enjoy on cannabis, we trip the light fantastic with the mind-bending cult horror favorite, JACOB’S LADDER (1990)—and just in time for Halloween, too! Warning: Some of what you’re about to read and see is highly adult content, and most definitely NSFW (not safe for work). Also, “Jacob’s Ladder” is scarier than hell whether you’re smoking pot or not, so if you’re prone to major freakouts, maybe invite a friend over for movie night!

Jacob Singer (a riveting Tim Robbins) is a broken man, and barely keeping the pieces together. He works a dead-end job as a postal worker; he’s divorced, and now living with a new girlfriend, Jezebel (Elizabeth Pena) in a dumpy Brooklyn apartment; he’s mourning his dead son, Gabe, and feels responsible for the loss; and he’s still struggling with PTSD after being badly wounded in Vietnam just a few years earlier.

Then Jacob starts seeing things, things that he can’t explain and that are driving him insane with terror and paranoia: A tentacle coming from under a homeless guy’s coat on the subway. A demonic entity assaulting Jezzie during a party. Strange men with vibrating faces lurking in the shadows. Talk about haunted by his past! But are these all delusions, or is Jacob really caught up in a terrifying conspiracy tied to his time as a combat medic in Vietnam? Or is it some new kind of nightmare altogether?!

“Jacob’s Ladder” keeps you poised on the edge of your seat from opening to end credits, as Jacob alternately flashes back to his time in Vietnam, hallucinates that he’s trapped in hell, and also has strange visions of being with his ex-wife and dead son in a world where none of that happened. Things only spiral more out of control when Jacob is contacted by some of his ex-platoon mates, who think there’s some sort of conspiracy they’re caught up in, as they claim they were drugged and experimented on during their time in Vietnam. There are so many plot threads to untangle in “Jacob’s Ladder” that it might be a bit daunting for a THC-consuming cinephile to unravel. But if you sit and watch “Jacob’s Ladder” just for the dread-filled atmosphere and terrifying visuals, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best cult horror movies of the 1990s, with a twist-y ending that probably inspired M. Night Shyamalan’s entire body of work. All credit for creating a movie atmosphere of pure dread and terror goes to director Adrian Lyne, who also helmed the unforgettable hit “Fatal Attraction,” the movie about a one-night-stand-turned-lethal-stalker that pretty much killed anonymous hook-ups for an entire generation of viewers.

If you’re into that whole Hollywood reboot/remake trend, there’s a new version of “Jacob’s Ladder” available for streaming now, starring the underrated Michael Ealy from the current ABC offering, “Stumptown”—maybe it’s worth a look! (As long as you’re stoned.) Here’s a trailer for the remake:

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