[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jacobs-ladder-1990-poster.jpg]]

-->''[-Dream on.-]''

'''''Jacob's Ladder''''' (1990) is a psychological {{thriller}} / {{horror}} film directed by Adrian Lyne, based on a screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. It stars Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello, and Creator/JasonAlexander. Actor Macaulay Culkin appears briefly in an uncredited performance.

Jacob Singer isn't sure what's real anymore.

The nightmares he keeps having are tearing his life apart, one day at a time. They might be after-effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his term of military service in Vietnam. They might be the side-effects from a secret and illegal drug trial that he and his platoon were unknowingly exposed to. Or they may be a result of his own mind slipping into insanity from the trauma of his young son's death.

But there is one possibility that terrifies him, even though day by day it seems more and more likely. The demons and monsters he keeps seeing- out of the corner of his eye, hiding in the shadows, lurking in his darkest nightmares- might be real. And if they are, then they're coming for him - and there's nothing he can do about it...

This movie was one of the primary inspirations for the ''Franchise/SilentHill'' franchise of games.
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!!''Jacobs Ladder'' contains examples of:

* AngelUnaware: [[spoiler:Jacob's chiropractor Louie is implied to be an angel trying to save him.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' You know you look like an angel? Like an overgrown cherub.]]
* AbandonedHospital: Many of the creepier hospital scenes take place in one of these.
* ArcWords: The song ''Sonny Boy''.
** [[spoiler:"If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth."]]
* AnArmAndALeg: One poor soldier in the opening has his leg hanging and flapping around, only a flap of skin keeping it on.
* AdultFear: Plenty. [[spoiler: Gabe's death, being trapped in a subway, friends dying one by one, becoming an UnPerson, being taken hostage in broad daylight with witnesses pretending they don't see you, and so on.]]
* BadSanta: Played straight and PlayedForLaughs, at the same time.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Jacob has been DeadAllAlong, but, after finally accepting his death, he is able to ascend to Heaven with his son.]]
** [[spoiler:Even if there's no afterlife, it's still heartwarming that Jacob is able to make peace with his demise. "He looks kinda peaceful."]]
* BodyHorror: The demons, according to Adrian Lyne, were made to resemble thalidomide victims and other birth defects. One seemingly has a long, prehensile penis.
* BrokenMasquerade: [[spoiler:The Artificial Realm variant.]]
* BrutalHonesty: [[spoiler:The demons. They even outright ''tell him he's dead and to accept it'' in a ToughLove way.]]
* [[spoiler:DarkIsNotEvil: The horrid monstruousities and abominations? [[OurAngelsAreDifferent Angels]], trying to make Jacob accept his death and ascend to Heaven.]]
* DarkWorld: Jacob keeps slipping back and forth between his everyday life and a darker realm inhabited by demons.
* [[spoiler:DeadToBeginWith]]
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: After Louis cures Jacob of a slipped disc, the scene is reminiscent of a baby learning to walk. [[spoiler: Which is deliberate as Jacob's beginning to be reborn - in preparation for his death.]]
* [[spoiler:DyingDream: At the end, Jacob discovers that he never made it out of Vietnam. His nightmares were partly caused by the psychedelic drug he was given by the government.]]
* EverybodyKnewAlready: [[spoiler:The Bad Doctor]] actually ''spoils the entire movie'', if you take what he's saying at face value.
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' Get me out of here.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Evil Doctor:''' Where do you want to go?]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' Home.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Evil Doctor:''' Home? This is your home. You're dead.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' Dead? No. I just hurt my back, I'm not dead.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Evil Doctor:''' What are you, then?]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' I'm '''''alive'''''.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Evil Doctor:''' Then what are you doing ''here''?]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' I don't know. This isn't happening.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Evil Doctor:''' What ''is'' happening?]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Jacob:''' Get me out of here.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Evil Doctor:''' ''(sighing with frustration)'' There is no "out of here". You've been killed, don't you remember?]]
** Earlier in the film, he gets the same thing from the woman reading his palm.
--->'''Palmreader:''' [[spoiler:It's not funny. According to this, you're already dead! You're outta here baby!]]
** Louis himself states, "[[spoiler:If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth.]]"
* EvilIsVisceral: During the hospital gurney scene, many organs are shown laying on the floor, some of which get run over by the gurney.
** The director said that he wanted to use distortion of the flesh to make the film more frightening and harder to deny.
* EyelessFace: Many of the creatures haunting Jacob have no eyes.
* FanDisservice: Elizabeth Pena, dancing suggestively while sweating? Hot. Elizabeth Pena dancing suggestively while sweating whilist [[spoiler: being molested by some sort of demon?]] Not so much.
** Pena felt so as well, and refused to do the sex dance with anyone but her close friend whom she trusted.
* [[spoiler:FlashForward: Jacob projects himself into the early 80's, while dying in Vietnam in the early 70's.]]
** [[FridgeBrilliance When you think about it]], [[spoiler:nothing in "1982" is anything Jacob wouldn't have known about in the early 70's.]]
* {{Foreshadowing}}: All of the ads in the subway are [[FridgeBrilliance anti-drug ads]], including one that says being on drugs is like Hell. Think about it.
* FreezeFrameBonus: Plenty. Like when Jezzie transforms briefly into something with [[BlackEyesOfEvil black eyes]] and a gummed mouth with tiny teeth.
* GovernmentConspiracy: One of the plot threads involves a mysterious drug. At one point, Jacob finds out all record of his even having served in Vietnam has been erased, and all the people who knew him are being killed off one by one. The final card informs that BZ had been used on American troops during the Vietnam War.
* [[spoiler:TheHeroDies: Jacob himself at the end.]]
* HospitalGurneyScene: [[FromBadToWorse It gets worse]].
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: In the opening scene, Jacob gets bayoneted in the gut, badly.
* IronicHell: One of several explanations for what the hell is going on in this movie.
* ItAlwaysRainsAtFunerals
* JumpScare: Only one. [[spoiler:When Jacob sees Gabe in the mirror, he pushes it to catch more of a glimpse of him. A demon pops out, {{Undercrank}}ed, as if to say, "No. You're ''not'' ready.".]]
* MeaningfulName: The main characters have Biblical names which describe them: Jacob, Jezebel, Gabriel, Elijah, Jedediah, Michael and so on. {{Lampshaded}} by Jacob and Jezzie.
-->'''Jezebel:''' I never went for church names.
-->'''Jacob:''' Where do you think ''Jezebel'' came from?!
** Also {{Lampshaded}} by a government mook: "Mr. Singer. What an appropriate name for a man who can't shut up."
* MindScrew: The whole thing, really.
* MsFanservice: Jezzie, who spends a lot of time topless.
* [[spoiler:[[NeverTrustATrailer Never Trust A Poster]]]]: ''Yeaaaaah''...
* NiceGuy: Nothing you can say will get a rise out of Jacob. He just laughs, though he'll genially toss a barb back at you, with no malice. WordOfGod says that it's deliberate, so that all the horrible stuff that he goes through is that much worse.
* NothingIsScarier: See SinisterSubway, below.
** Not scary, but chills when Jacob finally returns home - his ''old'' home - and [[spoiler:he finds homework and food on the dining room table - books open, pie half-eaten, as if they were there and had just vanished. Of course, that's exactly what ''had'' happened - he's letting go and his past is vanishing.]]
* PapaWolf: Louis behaves like this towards Jacob when taking him out of the hospital. "Step closer and I'll wrap this (a gurney stand) around your neck!"
* RailroadTracksOfDoom: Played horrifyingly straight.
* TheReveal: [[spoiler:Aside from the DyingDream: "You killed each other." Jacob got bayoneted by a fresh-faced ''American'' soldier.]]
* RedHerring: [[spoiler:The GovernmentConspiracy, to a degree.]]
* SchrodingersButterfly: This is the entire premise of the film. The main character keeps bouncing back and forth between two realities, each of which shares some people and places in common, but both of which seem to have demons in them as well. [[spoiler:It's finally shown that he had died in Vietnam, and this was all just an in-your-head Purgatory.]]
* ShoutOut: The artist Francis Bacon, whom the SurrealHorror is based on.
* ShellShockedVeteran : This is what Jacob is implied to be [[spoiler:at first.]]
* ShirtlessScene: Jacob has a lot of them.
* SinisterSubway: An early scene has Jacob getting lost in a New York subway station. He doesn't encounter anything overly supernatural there, but it's almost unbearably dark and creepy all the same.
** Nothing except for demons with glowing eyes staring out of a train.
*** The train that almost kills him.
* [[spoiler:StairwayToHeaven]]: In the end of the film [[spoiler:Jacob is seen walking up stairs into a bright white light with his dead son, we can only assume after he accepts that he's dead he's going to Heaven.]]
* SurrealHorror: Inspired by the works of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon_%28artist%29 Francis Bacon]], according to WordOfGod.
** "[[http://feldmandia.com/pictures/picture.php?/813 Man With No Legs (1976)]]" by Peter Witkin.
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler:In the DeletedScene, Jezzie turns out to be Jacob himself. She was a WhatHappenedToTheMouse in the theatrical cut.]]
* TooSoon: Jed gets a DopeSlap by his mom Sarah when he comments, "Just hang in there, Dad!" (Jacob's legs are suspended in the hospital bed to immobilize his bad back.)
* ToughLove: [[spoiler:If you subscribe to "really angels freeing you from the earth" sentiment, it has to be the toughest love ever seen on the silver screen.]]
* {{Undercrank}}: Used on all the [[spoiler:demons]]. This film pioneered the use of this effect in horror movies.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: According to director Adrian Lyne, the original screenplay contained a much more traditional, [[Creator/HieronymusBosch Bosch-esque]] depiction of hell. However, Lyne thought audiences would find such imagery silly.
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: [[spoiler:Post-mortal Gabe. Intended as such according to WordOfGod, who said Gabe would guide Jacob. Of course, considering who Gabriel is ''named'' after...]]
* YourOtherLeft: Louis every time he tells Jacob to turn on his side while lying on the chiropractic bed.
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