Every Monday, each of us will suggest a film that we feel too few people have seen.
Melissa’s Pick of the Week: Jacob’s Ladder
Jacob’s Ladder is a movie whose script languished on the “best unproduced scripts in Hollywood” list for a decade before someone was brave enough to take it on. Finally, Adrian Lyne picked up the script, gave it a polish, and produced this dark, dread-filled horror-drama. There is nothing quite like the tone of this film: it has an eerie gravity to it, and it combines elements that would normally be gothic with a primordial quality that makes them truly seem like something that lurks in the corner of your eye. All special effects were made in-camera, and the sum of it all creates a sort of hell-on-Earth portrait of mental illness.
The plot is essentially a character study of a Vietnam vet (played by Tim Robbins) who is struggling with postwar life. His first marriage has failed and his son has died. He now has a job at the post office, but he suddenly finds himself plagued by hallucinations and visions. He finds that his old war buddies are also having the same problems, so he starts trying to find out why. His path is littered with government conspiracies and barely-glimpsed horrors, and it becomes clear that not all of he sees — or what we see — is real.
It’s certainly not a happy film, but it’s a masterwork of horror that I feel has been forgotten over the years. If you do track it down and enjoy (?) it, I recommend seeking out the DVD extras of the cut scenes. Almost 40 minutes of material were cut from the movie, and they are fascinating to watch.
Windy’s Pick of the Week: Pumpkinhead
I remember first seeing the trailer for this 1988 horror film — it looked pretty creepy, like it would deliver some good scares, and then Mr. Movie Voice declared “the name of terror is…PUMPKINHEAD.” And I burst into guffaws. Well, I wasn’t laughing when I finally saw this cult classic. The awesome Lance Henriksen stars as a father seeking revenge on those damned city kids for their (truly horrible) crime. But his vengeance will cost him, and as the demon he raised slowly tracks down the offenders, he regrets his anger – but regrets won’t be enough to stop Pumpkinhead’s rampage! Stan Winston directs this oddly well-put-together film.