“The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer’s nightmare is that he isn’t dreaming.” Believe it or not, Adrian Lyne (Flashdance) directed this intellligent psychological horror film about a Vietnam veteran named “Jacob Singer” (Tim Robbins) who starts to seriously hallucinate after his tour of duty. Is he really losing his mind and what really happened on that fateful fall day in 1971 when his entire battalion started to exhibit extremely strange behavior under enemy attack? The film flashes back and forth between Jacob’s nightmarish visions, his life before the war and his struggle to maintain his sanity living as a postal worker in New York City. The strong supporting cast includes Elizabeth Pena as “Jezzie,” Danny Aiello as “Louis,” Matt Craven as “Michael,” Pruitt Taylor Vince as “Paul,” Patricia Kalember as “Sarah,” Ving Rhames as “George” and Jason Alexander as “Geary.” Also look for Macaulay Culkin as Jacob’s son, “Gabe.” Warning: Some of the grotesque imagery will put off the casual viewer simply looking for some mindless entertainment (go rent City Slickers instead). Jacob’s Ladder would make a great double feature with Carnival of Souls (1962).
Useless Trivia: Tom Hanks was reportedly Lyne’s first choice to portray “Jacob Singer” but he decided instead to do The Bonfire of the Vanities, which bombed at the box office.