Free Movie Friday: Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

I love free movies, especially free movies on YouTube! This Friday, I plan to plunder the Paramount Vault for one of my favorites, Jacob’s Ladder.

Free online movies offer a great option for someone whose taste in film runs toward the bizarre. If my poor family is going to suffer through a film that plays like a fever dream, we shouldn’t have to pay for it. Such is the case with Jacob’s Ladder, starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, and Danny Aiello. The film features a twisted storyline punctuated by fragmentary flashbacks and grotesque hallucinations. For me, that’s all part of its appeal.

Jacob’s Ladder is a psychological horror film about the experiences of Vietnam vet, Jacob Singer (Robbins). It starts during an attack on Jacob’s unit, but really takes off when he wakes up on a New York City subway. This awakening sends Jacob down the proverbial rabbit hole of self-discovery. He experiences visions of horrific creatures as he tries to discover what really happened to him during the war. It’s an interesting yet harrowing journey, to say the least!

The hallucination scenes in Jacob’s Ladder make this movie particularly disturbing to the senses. These intense scenes inspired other movies, video games, and music videos. For example, the film’s impact can be seen in Silent Hill video game and film series. It’s influences also is apparent in the music videos by the band Tool. Such an impact upon pop culture speaks to the just how powerful a film Jacob’s Ladder truly is.

Despite its gruesome imagery, Jacob’s Ladder is not another mindless horror film. It has lofty ambitions and influences. It’s title references the Biblical “Jacob’s Ladder,” the connection between earth and the heavens. References are made to Albert Camus’s book, “The Stranger,” the teachings of Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, and Ambrose Bierce’s short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” These esoteric influences give the film deep layers of meaning.

Jacob’s Ladder is for mature audiences. If you’re planning on making a weekend of this film, be sure to do so after the kids are in bed. The demonic hallucination scenes alone are enough to fuel one thousand nightmares. That said, the film is a phantasmagorical, suspenseful journey until its revealing conclusion. It’s definitely worth the investment of 113 minutes. Best of all, Paramount offers this film free.

(Sadly, this film is no longer available online.)

Want free movies? Paramount fills its Vault with free movies on YouTube. Poke around the film company’s many great offerings. You’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy among the many free films!