Jacob's Ladder | Crooked Media
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April 11, 2023
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer
Jacob's Ladder

In This Episode

Halle and Alison unpack the reality, the surreality, and the horror of the Vietnam War to ruin Jacob’s Ladder.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread, keep you up late night in bed. Here’s a podcast that will help ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely. Then we’ll talk about what’s frightening so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh, hello. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 

 

Alison Leiby: And I’m Alison. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And this is a podcast where you’re going to ruin a horror movie just for you. 

 

Alison Leiby: Just for you. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison, has anything horrifying happened to you this week, you’d like to just share with me. 

 

Alison Leiby: I will say I woke up this morning having slept on my neck weird. And there is— 

 

Halle Kiefer: We’re at that age, we’re at that age. You know what I mean?

 

Alison Leiby: I know, we’re just at that age where my neck like sleep is now a dangerous activity. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Girl. 

 

Alison Leiby: Honestly, it’s fine. I don’t have neck problems. I have all lower back problems. But like, it’s one of those things where it’s like there’s nothing you can do. Like, you’re just kind—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: —of like. And like, it’s, it’s like, legitimately, like, almost like, totally fine now by like, 2 p.m.. But like, boy, you wake up and you’re like, did I fight someone [laughter] in my sleep? Like what happened here? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Am I getting my ass absolutely kicked all night? [laughter] I’m so sorry. I have the exact same thing. I wore heels to—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —friend of the pod, Naomi Ekperigin—

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —who did our our M3GAN live show. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Her wedding to her “Jewboo” Andy Beckerman. A beautiful wedding. I don’t normally wear heels, so I—

 

Alison Leiby: Nor do I. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —wore heels, special occasion. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I want to say—

 

Alison Leiby: You looked great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —for about a week afterwards. Thank you. I appreciate that. I try to turn a look, which I don’t. As you can see from the video—

 

Alison Leiby: I mean. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I need to at least, I need to at least shower before we record, because every time I’m, like, shocked by how to disheveled—

 

Alison Leiby: But I—

 

Halle Kiefer: —but of course I do. 

 

Alison Leiby: But I just did and my hair is wet and I look like a rat that was like—

 

Halle Kiefer: You look great, no you don’t. 

 

Alison Leiby: —pulled out of a sewer. 

 

Halle Kiefer: No you don’t. And those are cute. I love rats. So. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, we know you love rats. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But. But interestingly. Yeah, like, I wore heels, I’m going to say, for about five days after the front of my thighs were burning. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Because it’s like, oh, right. I never wear heels and I’m in horrible shape. So. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Those muscles don’t get used in the same way. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And so I’m trying to like figure out even just stretching, even just, you know, like just a physical movement. I also audibly hear my spine more often. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm mm hmm, yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like I’m constantly hearing a pop. [both speaking] Oh you know, obviously. I mean, you was just like like a power drill I imagine.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah it, it sounds like metal gears kind of slowly cranking along. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: And that’s fucking hardcore. That’s one of the things—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —I like about you, but I definitely feel you and I that. Yeah, the horrors of aging man. 

 

Alison Leiby: It’s terrible. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Every damn day. 

 

Alison Leiby: Terrible. What about. What about you? You got any horrific events of the week that you are dying to share? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Well, this is a little a very minor one. But.

 

Alison Leiby: Mm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So it’s been extreme. It was extremely rainy in L.A. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: As you’ve heard everyone complain about for weeks or months on end at this point. And I made the mistake on one sunny day of bringing out some of my plants into the sunshine because my apartment doesn’t get a ton of natural light. Alison it was immediately as soon as I left, turn cold and then rained cold water. So now I am desperately trying to, like most of them seem okay. They just look bad. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But then one of them and this is the plan I’ve had for at least a year, I genuinely it’s holding on. But let me show you what it looks like is all the leaves came off. Look at it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, it’s so sad. For those of you that are not watching on video. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh, sorry. Yes.

 

Alison Leiby: You should watch on. You should watch on video. So you can see that we both kind of didn’t serve today. [laughter] But this plant is it’s mostly sticks. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s it’s it’s largely sticks. And I think it will survive because most of it’s still green. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But I just feel bummed out. I also feel like a bad plant mother. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And it’s like, how can I own a rat? Alison? How can I keep a rat—

 

Alison Leiby: I know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —alive if you can’t keep plants alive. 

 

Alison Leiby: If you can’t keep a plant alive, you can’t k— Though, honestly, like I found that Rizz is easier to care for than some of my plants. So, Rizz the cat. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I feel like. Yeah. I feel like cats are easy to care for than virtually anything. So.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. He’s just kind of, like, here, and that’s fine. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I’m glad that. I’m glad that both these things are like, we’re we’ll survive this. I feel like—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, these aren’t, these aren’t the worst horrors, but they certainly are inconveniences to say the least.

 

Halle Kiefer: The minor horrors of life. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes, the minor horrors of life. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh, boy. So we are continuing a political horror movie month. And—

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —boy we got one for you this week. This is an off requested—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —movie. I had not seen it. I had obviously heard about it. I feel like if anyone listens to—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh you hadn’t seen it? 

 

Halle Kiefer: No I hadn’t seen it. And if anyone listens to the Last Podcast on the Left, I don’t know if they still anymore, but they were con— This is a movie they would constantly reference as a Jacob’s Ladder moment. And if you’ve seen Jacob’s Ladder, you know what they’re referring to. But if you don’t, well, you’re about to find out about it right now. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh boy, oh boy. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And this came out this movie is from 1990. There apparently was a remake. We’re not doing that one. So don’t look up the trailer for 2019 one, directed by Adrian Lyne and written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Bruce Joel Rubin also wrote Ghost and he got the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. He is you know, this is something that he wrote and sort of was his passion project that took him a long time to get made. I thought it was interesting. Jacob’s Ladder is a biblical reference from Genesis, the ladder between heaven and Earth and sort of God and the Angels, how they sort of pass from one realm to the other. And this, the alternate title of the movie is Dante’s Inferno. And that is sort of like the concept of it, of, you know, transitioning from one stage of life to the other, which I think is depending on whether or not your religious is terrifying. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Or you’re like, oh, right, okay. But— 

 

Alison Leiby: Not for Jews. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I just feel like you guys— 

 

Alison Leiby: We’re pretty chill about that stuff. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. You guys have your own stuff, obviously. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, oh, plenty of stuff. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Not quite, so there’s not so much idea of hell, you know what I mean? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: There’s not, like the idea of you being trapped in hell. Like, that seems great. I mean, as someone who. I have a little Catholic church inside my heart, it’s nice. And I actually it’s nice not to have to worry about hell on any level. 

 

Alison Leiby: It is nice to not be worried about it so much. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then the screenwriter, he at one point said that this was a his interpretation of the, liberation through hearing during the intermediate state, which is the Tibetan Book of the Dead. So this is sort of the rumination—

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —on life and the afterlife. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we’ll discuss how we feel about that interpretation at the end of it. But this is a an off requested movie. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And of course, we like to have Alison watch the trailer for the film before we ruin it. Alison, would you like to give me your feedback on the trailer to Jacob’s Ladder? 

 

Alison Leiby: I did not like watching this. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s a tough one. 

 

Alison Leiby: It really like there are some movies where we watch. I watched the trailer and I’m like, I could probably make it through this. Like, this looks kind of like a fun thing where I’ll close my eyes once or twice. This is not that. This is when. When that no eye lady hits the screen. I mean. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: That’s a tough moment. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it is. It’s a body horror movie if I’ve ever seen one. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Which is like, not. What I would expect given kind of the. The summ— Like what we know about the movie at the stage. Like, you know, before I watched, I was like, oh, it’s a political horror movie. Like, oh, like. Or it can be at least like, attributed to, like being in the political horror sphere. So it’s like, oh, that’s not what I was I was not ready for—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: The images that were forced upon me in this trailer. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s a it’s a horrifying one. I agree there. But there is this thing where it’s like, yeah, unfortunately, this is a movie about America’s involvement in Vietnam. And boy, if you got America involved in the movie, the body itself is political, you know? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, no incredibly. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —so it’s, those horrific body images are part of it. We always like to take a baseline, scary. Alison, how scary do you find the concept of the space between life and death? 

 

Alison Leiby: Well, I don’t care for it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 

 

Alison Leiby: As someone who has almost died once, which was kind of enough for me. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Now, did you see anything? Did you traverse up a ladder? Did you see God or—

 

Alison Leiby: No I was so drugged, I was so drugged out of my mind. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s what I’m hoping for. 

 

Alison Leiby: In a hospital. I know. It’s just like I want to be as, like, drugged up as possible for whatever transitions I’m going to have to make [laughs] from living to dead. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I remember my mother once telling me she’s like, well you know in Switzerland they give you heroin when you’re dying. 

 

Alison Leiby: Great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I was like, okay, I will give you heroin while you’re dying if—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —I’m able to access it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, it seems hard to get and for good reason, but.

 

Halle Kiefer: Sure. But I also think in America, they’re just going to make you, like, bite down on a towel. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You’re gonna have to like wait in your car or something to die. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah you’re going to have to like, watch Fox News while you die or something horrible [laughter] and make it worse somehow. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a scary the the in-between—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. 

 

Alison Leiby: —of anything is like such a scary like uncertainty and instability are two of the worst feelings that like you can feel as a human. And for it to be the greatest transition from life to death that I don’t like it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Cause it’s like being dead seems fine. Like, then you’re dead. There’s nothing you can do about it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Once you’re dead, you’re dead. Whatever that is.

 

Halle Kiefer: Being alive, look, we’re all trying. But we yeah once. Once you start to make the move. All bets are off Alison. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison, would you like to guess the twist in Jacob’s Ladder? 

 

[voice over]: Guess the twist. 

 

Alison Leiby: I’m going to guess that maybe like life and death are reversed. And what he thinks is—

 

Halle Kiefer: Oooh, okay. 

 

Alison Leiby: —life is, actually death or afterlife and what he thinks is death is actually like the life he’s living. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Hell, yeah. Great. 

 

Alison Leiby: Scary. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Excellent guess. Let us begin ruining Jacob’s Ladder so we open at of course The Vietnam War. 

 

Alison Leiby: Obviously. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Already bad, already deep American shame. And we see a bunch of young infantrymen. There’s new soldiers getting out of helicopters. And we are told that they’re in the Mekong Delta on October 6th 1971. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So we catch up with our different soldiers. We see Doug, Paul and George, George is played by young Ving Rhames. Just love to see him in everything. 

 

Alison Leiby: It’s just great— 

 

Halle Kiefer: He’s he’s incredibly talented and he’s truly they’re joined by they’re the protagonist Jacob, referred to as Jake, played by Tim Robbins, and they’re all joking around again, the camaraderie of young men. They’re passing out a joint. They’re teasing him like, now, were you shitting or were you jerking off again? And they’re all teasing him, having as best of a time as you could be after you were drafted in the Vietnam War. Alison, unfortunately, somebody screams, there’s movement on the tree line. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And everyone has to leap into action. And we see that they’re eating lunch. So they’re like sort of had this moment where they’re eating and they have to leap into action. But as they do, they all start to experience this incredible pain. So we see Doug grab his head and scream and fall to the ground. George starts seizing and gagging. He’s like gagging up foam and blood. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then Jacob’s screaming. But then, as far as they can tell, the Viet Cong is on them. And it’s a firefight. It’s just mayhem. It’s awful. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. War. Yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: It’s like every depiction of the Vietnam War. Where it’s like, how did we think that this was not going to be anything but a fucking nightmare for everyone involved? I don’t know.

 

Alison Leiby: I have to say my like a familiarity with like, just the history of the Vietnam War is very spotty. But politically I’m a little more cued in but like, yeah, it’s just like of course. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, yeah. And that’s I mean there’s so many different aspects of it as people who are born after it and—

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —like are the generation where the only thing that was communicated to us was that this is a deep shame. And, you know, I think this movie is, you know, it’s 1990, so this is trying to get in really get–

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —into the details of what was going on. And in this case, this is what was going on to our own soldiers, basically the army’s treatment of them. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So everyone is it’s a total shit show. Everyone’s running around. We see one of their fellow soldiers is like is shredded by bullets. A helicopter fires at like a nearby shed. Everyone is thrown to the dirt. Clearly, this is not like it just is just mayhem. Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, we see Jacob run into the jungle and he’s, he’s paranoid. He doesn’t know where to turn. We see a bayonet blade appear out of the leaves and jam into his rib cage. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. He wakes up on the New York subway four years later. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he’s reading Camus The Stranger. So again, lot of a lot of different literary Easter eggs in this movie. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. [both speaking] I love a bunch of references I love a bunch of. Like if you know, you know, a little like nods to different things. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And so he wakes up, he walks between cars because he fell asleep. He’s trying to ask a woman in the next car if they passed Bergen, he’s on the G train, obviously. And—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, like my, like my neck of the woods. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And she doesn’t reply. She just stares at him. Very New York. That’s what I call a New York hello Alison.

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm, just a blank stare. [laughs] 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he’s like, oh, okay. You know, I’ll just sit down. And as they pull into the station and Jacobs stands to leave, he sees a sleeping man lying on the bench in the subway car. And from under his coat comes a what I would describe as a octopus tentacle. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. See, no—

 

Halle Kiefer: And sort of writhes near his feet. And as you can imagine, Jacob does the only thing you’re supposed to do, which is he just steps off the train. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, that’s the correct move. There is no way to handle that, except [both speaking] this is my stop. Yeah, you can walk. You’re close. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, he tries to leave, and he finds that one of the exits is barricaded, which, again, is confusing to him. But also seems like New York. Like they just closed off an exit. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And they didn’t tell anyone. There’s no sign. 

 

Alison Leiby: Nope. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That seems plausible. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, all the time. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. Then he does the thing that you’re never supposed to do. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, no. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He’s like I could walk around or I could just jumped out of the tracks and walk over to the next platform. To the other platform.

 

Alison Leiby: No, you don’t get on the tracks. I you are never, ever, ever supposed to get on the tracks. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And you always have seen people do it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And, you know, it’s this horrifying moment as a New Yorker for two reasons. One, the third rail, the fact that that exists is horrifying. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then two, of course, Alison, as soon as he fucking gets down there as soon as he starts to walk across, there is a subway—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —train barreling down on him. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. We’re not even addressing how absolutely disgusting the train tracks are. [laughs] It’s like brown standing water and rats and roaches. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yep, yep. 

 

Alison Leiby: That’s all that’s down there and garbage. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we do see a sweet little rat running around in the water, and he’s tramping around in the filthy water. 

 

Alison Leiby: Your best friend. 

 

Halle Kiefer: The train is on top of him. And he freezes, of course, as you would. And then luckily, the last minute dives out of the way. And as he turns to see the train pass, he sees every window frames a faceless person. So it’s a person like I would describe a sort of has a white translucent—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —mask over their face. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And as he watches it go past, he turns and he sees a faceless conductor and the conductor sort of reaches up their hand and waves. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I know this is early, but, Alison, if you saw that, what would you do? 

 

[voice over]: What would you do? 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. I mean, I’m getting myself up out of the train tracks and going directly to a hospital—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I think you—

 

Alison Leiby: —taking myself somewhere and being like, I don’t know if this is real or not real, but I need to be not out in the world right now because it’s too scary. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: And I feel like I would at least run and immediately tell someone else this is something I would not be able to keep to myself. 

 

Alison Leiby: No, but like, imagine if somebody like, ran up to you, like in the subway, like on a platform or like up above ground, like on the street in New York and was like, no one has a face anymore. I’d be like, don’t talk to me. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: You’d say, only in New York baby.

 

Alison Leiby: Only in New York. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Halle Kiefer: He’s very distressed. At the same time, what we’re going to find out is he, of course, is asking the question himself the question, is this real or do I have PTSD? Because I was in the fucking Vietnam War four years ago. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, hmm. What seems more likely? [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Which is completely reasonable. Exactly. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he’s already put in the position of like, I can’t fucking tell anybody that because they’ll know that that like that, that I’m having a crackup. Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So Jake gets home, he’s greeted by his girlfriend, Jezebel, again, a biblical name who he calls Jezzie and their dog Chester, who’s very cute. 

 

Alison Leiby: Aww. 

 

Halle Kiefer: She’s like, Why are you home in the middle of the night? Why are you filthy? He’s like, oh, Ned didn’t show up, and I had to do his rounds. We find out that Jake is a postal worker. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He’s like my coworker didn’t come, so I had to do his shift. And also, I fell into a bunch of filthy water in the subway. And again, you have this moment with them where he gets in the shower. So she undresses and gets in they’re like laughing and kissing. So, you know, things are going to go horrible. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: When every, at the beginning of a horror movie you see a glimmer of happiness. 

 

Alison Leiby: It’s over. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know, it’s about to be stripped away from them in the worst way possible. And in this way, which is we then flashback to Vietnam and we see Jake lying in the dark. He’s just been stabbed, as we saw with the bayonet. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he hears voices in the background and he’s trying to call to them, but he can’t yell. So he’s whispering, help me. Alison, He wakes up again. He’s in bed. It’s 1975 again. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: This is something where if this is somebody, you knew, you’d be like you have PTSD. You know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Very feels very clear. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And me— But I will say this is again, the seventies, so there’s not really a lot of mental—

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —or it’s suppose to be set in the seventies, so there’s no real mental health conversation. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So Jezzie did I think would probably you were supposed to do as a woman when this kind of thing happened, which is I’ll say nothing. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: When your boyfriend wakes up screaming and then she says, oh, your kid dropped this off and she throws him a paper bag. So we find out that Jake has a, two sons, Jed and Eli, and an ex-wife named Sarah. I don’t know why this shocked me that they introduced it like this, but I feel like now they explain everything about his life. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But I appreciate that we established this was his life. And then he has, you know, children. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And his ex-wife, you know. And Jezzie couldn’t remember the name of which kid dropped it off. And he says, why can you never remember my sons names? And she says, they’re weird names. That to me, is unacceptable. 

 

Alison Leiby: No, that’s not. No, no. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I you know, I— 

 

Alison Leiby: Also weird names are way easier to remember. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And she has, like, some clear hostility about, like, his other family, which, again, I hope that we’re sort of getting past as a society. Like, yeah, you can’t resent his children. It’s not their fault that, like his—

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —their parents got divorced, you know? And also, I just think if you’re girlfriend in a horror movie where you’re obviously probably going to be killed. You have to learn the names of the kids. You know.

 

Alison Leiby: You got to know the names of the kids. You got to look like you’re trying a little. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And so they kind of have a like a little banter back and forth. And the actress who plays Jezzie has a, Elizabeth Peña, who’s great in this. She she’s a big scar on one of her breasts. And I’ll tell you, it’s nice to see some one with a scar in a movie. [both speaking] They’re not letting the scarred up people in movies anymore. 

 

Alison Leiby: No, they are not. No, they are not. Everybody looks airbrushed walking around, so. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh yeah. You can’t even have gray, crumbling teeth or metal [?] anymore— 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —it’s the early seventies through the nineties. You can get away with it now you got to be not scarred up. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Which is a huge expectation for people. 

 

Alison Leiby: Can’t do it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison he goes through the paper bag of photos and it’s full of photos his ex-wife was going to toss, which is also insane cause they are all family photos. Like, why would you toss, just put them in a drawer?

 

Alison Leiby: Right. Put them in a box. Put them in storage. Like like just throwing them away feels very final. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. He finds a photo and it’s of his third child, Gabe, who died in an accident before he ever went to Vietnam. And he says to the photo. Hello, baby. And we see it. And it’s a young Macaulay Culkin, who is the cutest little kid, which is why— 

 

Alison Leiby: Aww. He is the cutest little kid. That’s why he was a star. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I mean, I would say like we conscripted him into that was his Vietnam was being forced to be a child—

 

Alison Leiby: [laughs] Child star. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —actor. Truly. And he is so cute. And of course, Jake sees this, he breaks down sobbing and Jezzie asks what’s wrong? And it’s like, girl, his kid died. He saw a picture of his child who died. He’s very upset about that. Alison. She flips out and is basically like, I don’t like to see you cry. She takes the photos and throws them down the garbage chute in the hallway and they slide into the incinerator. [laughter]

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I was like, the seventies was a mayhem, of course. I feel like just imagine being a soldier coming back from the Vietnam War, which we all understood even then was unjust. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then this. There is no, the emotional maturity that I think anyone is trying to get since then, I really appreciate oh, you’re seeing your dead son makes you upset, burn every photo of him. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Oy. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And so the only photo he is able to get out of the bag is the little one of Gabe and so she burns all the rest of the photos. Don’t bottle up your emotions and definitely don’t burn your boyfriend’s photos of his family. Please.

 

Alison Leiby: Lady. Take a breath. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Truly. So we see Jake head into work. We realize that both Jezzie and Jake work at the post office. So Jezzie’s like an office worker, and Jake does the rounds, and he tells her he brings her lunch, and then he tells her I’m going to head out because my back is killing me. And she’s like, oh, you’re my boss is going to kill you for taking off more time, because that’s really important. I just have a lot of pain. And he heads over to his chiropractor, Louis, who’s played by Danny Aiello. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, that’s fun. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, he’s a great cameo and he’s sort of this, like, positive paternal figure in almost an angelic figure, if you will, in Jacob’s life. 

 

Alison Leiby: I will. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he also treats Jake’s ex-wife, Sarah. So it’s sort of like this is how Sarah and Jake still keep in touch is through their chiropractor again, terrifically seventies.

 

Alison Leiby: Love that. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And so they’re chatting and Louis he’s like, oh, how’s Sarah? And Louis says I think she still loves you which seems inappropriate for your chiropractor to say. [laughter]

 

Alison Leiby: What? That’s psycho. Imagine. Imagine that happening to you. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And basically we find out that the reason they split up is Jake studied philosophy for six years, got his Ph.D., and then didn’t want to do any more and worked for the post office. And Sarah threw him out. And Jake says, I just didn’t want to think anymore. I think and I could be wrong. I think you’re making a better living at the post office that you are being a full, maybe a philosophy professor, but how do people get to be a professor? 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, and even then, like you’re it’s years before you’re even like getting like if you can get—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: —tenured and you probably have to, like, be in some random ass town at a smaller school. But like, you can’t just be like, I have a Ph.D. Can I go be at Harvard? Like, it takes years to like, no, I think it like a civil service job is a way better living and— 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: —more stable and more benefits. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And they do. Yeah. They treat being a philosophy professor like being a king. Like you would just have unlimited money. It’s like I think if you have a wife and three children like that is you’re like you hope you get like a a professor professorial job, you know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Otherwise you’re just. Yeah. Like— [both speaking]

 

Alison Leiby: What else do you do with a Ph.D. in philosophy?

 

Halle Kiefer: But, you know, basically what we’re to understand is like Jake went away, had this experience in the Vietnam War, and said I basically wanted to have a totally different life and couldn’t handle the adjustment back to— 

 

Alison Leiby: Understandable. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —his life. Yeah, I mean, again, a lot of trauma and Louis does an adjustment which also seems really dangerous. I get I’ve never been to a chiropractor but. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like I understand that some people go and whatever if it makes you feel better if you go to a chiropractor, don’t do neck stuff. That is the stuff that is the most like objectively dangerous. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s what it seems like. 

 

Alison Leiby: People have arteries and veins torn. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Your lower back is a little safer. Like, I don’t think it is likely that you’ll have like a fatal cons— Or complication, but don’t do neck stuff at the chiropractor. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, that’s and that’s definitely sort of what I took from this Louis adjusts Jake’s neck snaps it and then like to the side. And then Jake has a vision of being found by soldiers, so he’s constantly having these flashbacks to war. And while Jake’s look, he looks up at Louis, he sees Louis has, like, the overhead light shining behind him like an angel. And he sort of jokes that Louis is an overgrown cherub, and they kind of have like a nice, positive moment. And there are a lot of fun New York moments, like Jake is walking home and there are like a group of teenage girls who saying, like, wait a minute, Mr. Postman, as he walks by, which is really cute. Unfortunately, Alison, he then turns into an alley and a car swerves to try to hit him. And when he dives out of the way as it passes, we see everyone of the car again has the same faceless monstrous blank faces as we saw—

 

Alison Leiby: Horrifying. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —on the subway train. 

 

Alison Leiby: Horrifying. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Luckily, Jake has, he knows enough he’s like, I have to go talk to someone about this, I have to. I can see where this is headed. And he goes to see Dr. Carlson. Who—

 

Alison Leiby: Fine. Like. This is the first time I feel like we’ve really, like, seen someone in one of these movies be like, you know what? I can’t do this on my own and, like, actually go talk to someone. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. Absolutely. We’re used to someone. Basically, it’s a third act before they’re like, wait a minute. Is the homicidal doll I made, committing the murders? [laughter] Jake is saying, like, I know what I’m seeing is not normal. You know, is not normal. So what can I do to get treatment? He goes to see Dr. Carlson at the V.A. and only to be told there is no Dr. Carlson and there never has been. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, no. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Jake says I’ve been here a million times. I was part of the veterans outpatient program. I could you look at my file and see his name on there? The receptionist looks up his file. The file is not there at all. So he almost tells her, like, I’m seeing creatures or entities, but she does. But then she says, well if there’s an emergency. There is psychiatric social workers. But the wait is an hour. And so he gets really frustrated. He slams his fists on the counter and he knocks over a vase. When the receptionist bends down, she has like, one of those little nurses hats? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: She bends down and it falls off her head and it looks like there’s a giant bone—

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —or fang jutting out of the top of her skull. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. No. No.

 

Halle Kiefer: Jake. Jake makes the executive decision that he is going to just try to make it to Dr. Carlson’s office, so he books it down the hallway. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, I’d be as far away from Fang Skull as I could possibly get. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, he turns and he makes it down there. Unfortunately, it’s not an office. It’s a group therapy space so that everyone in group therapy turns and stares at him when he busts in, and the group leader takes him out in the hallway and says, I’m really sorry. Actually, Dr. Carlson died about a month ago. 

 

[clip from Jacob’s Ladder]: It was a car accident. / How did it happen? / No one really knows. They say it blew up. / Blew up? What do you mean blew up? / I really don’t know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Um. That’s not an accident. 

 

Alison Leiby: That’s not an accident. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And to say that that was an accident. It implies so much about your misunderstanding of what a car accident is. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes, yes, yes. An acci— Like that’s just not the definition of a car accident at all. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I mean, maybe cars have accidentally blown up. I guess Tesla is— 

 

Alison Leiby: Well yeah I guess those are accidents. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —I guess anything’s possible is what we’re learning. But that night, he is like, I’m going to at least tell my girlfriend. He says, time to tell Jezzie about the the barricaded subway station, about seeing these faceless people. He tells her like it feels like when I see them they’re like demons, these creatures. Jezzie, of course, again, committed to ignoring all these horrible red flags says you know, a lot of stations are closed right now and New York is full of creatures. Girl, you got to listen to what he’s saying, right? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: Sort of. Later here at a big house party, it’s fucking popping. Like people are, like, drunk, making out dancing. It looks great. And a drunk woman who really reminds me of Kathryn Kohut in a really positive way—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh fun. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —goes to flirt. She goes, I live near here, and I’m very lonely. [laughter] And I just like, that line—

 

Alison Leiby: I can like hear her. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And so Jake’s having a good time. He goes to the fridge, there’s a full lamb’s head in there and he sort of reacts to it and then he—

 

Alison Leiby: Like? Um. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like. Someone’s going to cook it later, I guess it could be a goat’s head. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay? But it’s not like, like, just like it’s been decapitated and now it’s in the fridge like it’s been. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it is—

 

Alison Leiby: Sheared, drained. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Peeled? Yes, it’s been prepared. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It’s been dressed. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. So but again, something you it would be shocking to see, but not if you’re someone who eats lamb’s heads. Like, I think like clearly the person was buying it for their purposes. 

 

Alison Leiby: But it looks like it’s prepared to cook. It’s not like I found this. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah, it’s not just a loose. [both speaking] A loose head. Yeah, absolutely. And he runs into Elsa. One of the other party goers played by the wonderful S. Epatha Merkerson, who’s in everything and they flirt and you know again like everyone in this has great chemistry. So even though you know, he’s there with somebody else, you know, they’re flirting. And she says, let me read your palm. And she’s looking at his heart line and she points his lifeline and says—

 

Alison Leiby: So seventies. And twenty-twenties.

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh exactly like, this is how you flirted in the seventies. [both speaking] And yeah you’re right, we’ve cycled back there absolutely.

 

Alison Leiby: We’ve kind of come all the way around to like that, you know, reading people’s star signs and tarot cards and stuff is like very much a way that people flirt. So the seventies are back. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: I will say, like after coming out, I then was asked about my astrological like information about it that I didn’t have so much in a way that I, I guess I’d heard that as a cliche, but also I didn’t know it so that I had to, you’re suppose to like get an app and and sort of educate yourself.

 

Alison Leiby: I just know my like sign. I know I’m a Capricorn. That’s what I know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And you’re such a Capricorn. I’m always saying that.

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, that’s true. I am. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So she Elsa examines his hand and says, oh, you know, according to your lifeline, you’re already dead. This, as you can imagine, really freaks Jake out. And he kind of staggers downstairs. He wanders to the party and everyone’s just, again, super drunk, laughing, helicoptering their shirts over their heads, as I want to do. And Jake sees, like, a man in the distance staring at him. And by this I mean, like, across the apartment. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And suddenly the lambs head, he sees the, an image of the lambs head snapping at him. And he again, he feels like he’s sort of going into a hallucination. He looks up and sees a shirtless man in a black mask whose head is shaking violently, like super quickly. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And as you can imagine, he’s so startled, his glasses fly off, which they would if you were to see that. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes of course. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And as he fumbles for them, he looks up to see just Jezzie dancing with a figure and they’re dancing hard, it looks like they’re fucking right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And she’s like groaning. She’s covered in sweat and she’s bent over the waist and we see a tentacle like the one we saw on the subway wrap around her leg. 

 

Alison Leiby: What’s it coming out of? 

 

Halle Kiefer: An unclear figure. It looks like a humanoid creature that appears to be fucking Jezzie from behind. But in reality, I think we’re to assume it’s just a man dancing and they are just super drunk. 

 

Alison Leiby: And he’s—

 

Halle Kiefer: But in this. Yes, in this moment he is seeing this and we see the tentacles sort of wrap around her leg and then sort of lash her ass and draw blood as she, like, hikes her skirt up. And we cut to this figure behind her like this again, inhuman, monstrous octopus. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Wet aquatic type of horror. And suddenly, Alison, a huge white translucent fang, stabs through the back of Jezzie’s Jezzie’s head and through her mouth. So it looks like this gigantic horn almost just like shooting out of her mouth. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And it’s so I’m actually going to ask you again, because I think this is another a turning point in Jake’s experience. Alison, if you saw that, what would you do? 

 

[voice over]: What would you do? 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, I’m leaving the party. That’s for sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah—

 

Alison Leiby: I’m getting the hell out of Dodge. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —party until that tentacle guy showed up. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Once there’s tentacles and fangs poking through skulls like it, it’s just kind of when it’s lights out for me. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: And again, I think I’m taking myself to. But, like, the hospital, like, I don’t feel like he’s like fou– I don’t know where you go, but I think I would go find people that I trust and be like, this is what I’m seeing. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Save me. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: And I think unfortunately, when he does try to do that every time, cause, you know, I think we are sort of evoking the experience of a soldier. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Who does have PTSD every time he does seek out help everyone reacts like everything he’s asking for is completely absurd. And then it makes him question his own experience even more so. And then it makes him less likely to tell people. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I think like sort of like this, the jutting fang, like it’s sort of evoking the like being penetrated by the bayonet. Like, there is a lot of penetration—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —in it in this film. And I think to me, when I saw that, it’s like something, something alien entering your body in this case threw through her out of her mouth. As you can imagine, in reaction to this, Jake collapses, screaming. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, of course. That’s actually more likely what I would do in that moment. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I wouldn’t, I’m not doing anything. 

 

Alison Leiby: I’m not gonna be like, excuse me, lovely affair. I’m going to have to hit the road like I would just be like a puddle of, like, throw up and tears. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right. And that’s how you know, it’s a good party. 

 

Alison Leiby: True. 

 

Halle Kiefer: of course, as soon as everyone runs over, they are all. Everyone looks totally normal, like everything’s fine. He flashes back to Vietnam, and here’s a medic saying his guts are hanging out. We got to stuff them back in. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Referring to Jake himself. Back at home, Jezzie is yelling at Jake for flipping out of the party, but slowly realizes that he’s actually sick like he is sick sick. And when she takes his temperature, it’s 106. 

 

Alison Leiby: Whew. 

 

Halle Kiefer: She panics and she calls the doctor in a panic and he says, you have to put him in a bath of ice that’s so high he could get brain damage on the way to the hospital or he could die. Like that is so high, the human body cannot be at that temperature. She freaks out, fills the bathtub, then again, in a beautiful New York moment, runs down the hall, pounding on all the neighbors to get ice from them. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh wow. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So they all run in, in this really positive way, like this is very seventies like, oh, yeah, you can have my ice. And they all run in and they help her get Jake in the tub. But it’s also horrific. Like he’s screaming. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He’s not really understanding what’s going on. 

 

Alison Leiby: Of course, yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: They plunge him in, he’s screaming, you’re killing me. And they keep dumping ice on him.

 

Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison, wakes up in bed with his ex wife, Sarah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he tells her, I had this horrible dream that I was living with Jezebel from the post office. You remember you met her at the Christmas party and there were all these demons around me, and I was burning from ice. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And she wakes up, she’s like, yeah, that’s insane. I’m very sorry. Also, you’re dreaming of another woman? Suddenly the door walks, opens, and in walks Gabe, his deceased son. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, no. So this isn’t real—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, well, you called it. [both speaking] He. Well, I mean, yeah. He takes Jake, takes him back to bed, and he sings Jake a lullaby. And it’s very sweet. It’s very sad. And all the boys are sleeping in the same room. And Jed and Jed and Eli are in bunk beds. So of course Jed wakes up and says, Dad you forgot my allowance, and then Eli’s up, and he’s telling everyone, go back to sleep. I was just, you know, bringing Gabe back in. And when he goes to leave, Gabe says, don’t go. And Jake says, I’m right here. And he leaves the door open and we see Jake gets back in the bed. But of course, even he, in this dream, starts to look perturbed, like he knows this isn’t real. And we see the underside of leaves in Vietnam as he’s carried by the medics to be evacuated. Suddenly, he opens his eyes in the bathtub. The doctor is standing over him. And—

 

Alison Leiby: The ice bathtub?

 

Halle Kiefer: He has just survived. So he has survived. They’ve gotten his temperature down. The doctors—

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —arrived and he’s okay. And the doctor says you must have friends in high places. And Jezzie’s like in tears, so relieved that he has survived. Cut back to Vietnam. We see Jake being airlifted out of the jungle by helicopter. So he’s made it to the medic helicopter and he’s being airlifted out. In the morning, he wakes up in bed with Jezzie standing over him and we hear kids playing at some school down the block, which again is a very beautiful New York memory of no matter where you are you’re constantly—

 

Alison Leiby: You’re always near a school. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —hearing a school. Yeah, it’s so funny. And he says, am I home? She’s like, yeah, you’re luckily your brain didn’t boil. You kept saying in your night like you kept saying Sarah, close the window and you’re talking about your kids. And he says—

 

[clip from Jacob’s Ladder]: Am I dead? / Oh no. No, you’re right here.

 

Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately Alison things start to really devolve over the next couple of weeks. Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, I kind of don’t know what’s happening anymore so. [laughs] 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, and I think unfortunately Jake doesn’t. So what Jake does as a phil— As a philosophy, you know, as a Ph.D., starts to research demons, right? 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he’s reading Dante’s Inferno, he’s reading the Bible. He’s trying to figure out, like, what? What is this experience I’m having? Why am I cutting between time? Why am I seeing all these creatures, these horrifying creatures? Jezzie again flips out at him and screams at him when he won’t, you know, he won’t respond to her. Is anyone there? And when he looks up, her eyes are jet black and he shoves her away. But of course, as soon as he pushes her, she’s normal again. She says, I can’t fucking do this anymore. And storms out. Just then. Alison. Jake, get’s a call from Paul who, if you remember, was one of the soldiers that he knew from the war. And he said, I really need to talk to you. I’m really going through something. They go to a bar and Paul breaks down and says, I am going to hell. I saw demons coming out of the wall and Jake says, I’m having the exact same fucking experience. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Paul is too. I think it’s like Paul [?] Paul’s horrified because Paul wanted him to like he wanted it to just be his problem. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right where it’s like, oh, okay, I yeah, okay, yeah. I see. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So he’s like, I thought I was the only one. And he shows Jake. He always carries a Bible and a religious medallion. He’s like, it’s not helping. And we cut back to Vietnam, and we see Paul and Paul’s just staring into the middle distance while mayhem happens around him. And he asks what happened that day and why won’t anyone tell us? So the day that we are seeing, they don’t have a memory of. 

 

Alison Leiby: And that’s kind of the day that we started, like where it’s like—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. 

 

Alison Leiby: —all of a sudden the Viet— Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So yeah, so that we see like the beginning of that. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, they know, up until and then all of a sudden they don’t think what happened. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Yeah, we know as much as them. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: They don’t have like we actually got to a fight with, with, with Vietnamese troops. Like what? Like what actually happened. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: No one has retained it. Which, again, big red flag. 

 

Alison Leiby: Huge. 

 

Halle Kiefer: If nobody has this memory, you know, however they walk out to Paul’s car and they’re talking and Jake looks down to pick up a quarter and he says, ah must be my lucky day. Alison. He reaches down to get the quarter and the coin is jerked out of his grasp. And when he looks up, Paul smiles at him, turns the key and his ignition and the car explodes. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Cut to Vietnam, where Jake’s medical helicopter is under attack and we see the pilot get shot in the head. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: From the ground and then the the it starts to go down. So it’s just total chaos. Their, their, their helicopter is crashing. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Back in current day 1975. A man we don’t know runs over to help Jake, you know, as he flies back from the explosion. And when Jake sort of rights himself to thank him, flees the scene as quickly as he came. So sort of like a um—

 

Alison Leiby: And someone we’ve never seen before?

 

Halle Kiefer: No. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. Great love a new character. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: And sort of like he’s some sort of again, perhaps an angel—

 

Alison Leiby: Protector? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And a protector, a figure. So everyone he goes to Paul’s funeral, and while he’s there, he sees everyone else from Vietnam. So we see Doug, Jerry, Frank, George and Rod, and they start to argue like, was this an intentional bomb? Like, and they are all talking about as it relates to Vietnam, you know, because they knew that Paul was having these experiences. They, you know, may or may not have had some experiences. Jake says Paul told me that he saw demons and George drops his beer and says, what did they look like? Obviously, it seems like [both speaking] most of them have had the same experience. Rod—

 

Alison Leiby: Tentacles, fangs, you know, the usual, like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Oh, you know what I mean. You know, that stuff, you all see and you don’t tell anyone because you’re not supposed to. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. No one has a face anymore, that kind of thing. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: So they all go to the roof and Jake tells them Dr. Carlson is dead. They all knew Dr. Carlson because they were also in the veterans outpatient program. 

 

Alison Leiby: So they were all sa— Okay. Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. So they’re like, does you think it has to do with that night that none of us could fucking remember? It seems like that seems again, like connected. Like that’s a bad sign. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Jake says, I want to get an answer from the army. Rod is the one like you guys are crazy. You think the Army’s going to fucking tell you anything? And he’s like, we probably just smoked some bad grass and, like, that’s it, you know? 

 

Alison Leiby: No, also, not that, though. They’re like— [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: I know. I’m like, how bad could it be, my friend? But all of them go to see George Costanza, JK. But it is Jason Alexander, and he plays a lawyer named Geary. And he says, I want you to look into this. And he says he’ll do it because, frankly, there have been some lawsuits against the military. And he’s like if we’re able to prove that they gave you something, if they did something to you. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Experimentally, you can make a lot of fucking money. So I will absolutely take on your case. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Someone in the car watches them leave the lawyer’s office. So we now see that they are actually being monitored by some other person. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, a day or so later, Jezzie tells Jake, your lawyer just called while you’re in the shower. He’s not going to take the case. He says that you don’t have one. Also, he said that your friends backed out. Jake calls Frank. Frank, one of the other soldiers Frank and Frank’s like. You know, honest to God, like, there’s really nothing we could do about it. Like, there’s really no point. I’m sure it was just like the stress of war, trying to make excuses. And Jake says, who got to you? Literally two days ago, you were all fired up— 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —about with me. Why is this change of tune? 

 

Alison Leiby: Why a 180 on something so big? Like—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: —it is shocking. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Frank says, no one got to me and none of us are interested. Again, you’re all not interested suddenly. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So Jake goes to see the lawyer, and the lawyer blows him off, too, and says, I checked on you. You weren’t even in Vietnam. And you and all your friends, who came you were discharged for psychological problems before you even got to Vietnam. You did some war games in Thailand. You were never in the Mekong Delta. You’re just making stuff up. 

 

Alison Leiby: Frank said this to Jake? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Sorry. The lawyer tells Jake that, basically—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —I checked on you. You weren’t even you weren’t in Vietnam. You had psychological problems. You were actually discharged before you even got there. Which Jake doesn’t believe or I guess he does sort of believe it, but it becomes less believable as soon as he gets out of the courthouse— 

 

Alison Leiby: Well also like, the other guys were all like, they know each other. They bit like, okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Well, so he said, the lawyers trying to argue that they all had psychological problems—

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —and are sort of like having like a mass delusion or sort of talking to each other and saying, we were in Vietnam and he’s attributing all to preexisting psychological problems, which does seem like what the Army does. Like, it’s sort of like, oh, that’s a problem before you got here it’s not that horrible shit that happened to you that we are ostensibly responsible for supporting you through. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So it would be believable. And Jake does have a moment of like, oh, is this true? But then he’s immediately grabbed by two guys when he walks out of the courtyard and they throw him in a car. 

 

Alison Leiby: Not great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And these two guys who are like, they seem like mafia guys, like they’re mafiosos. They tell him, you know, you’re scaring a lot of people talking about the Army stuff. You were in over your head. And when you’re in over your head, just so you know, men have drowned that way. So maybe you need to shut the fuck up about what you think happened. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Fortunately, he’s able to open the door and dive out of the car and then sort of rolls and hits the curb. And because it’s around the holidays, a Santa Claus comes over, you know, that’s—

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —ringing the bell and he goes, oh, you poor, poor man. And then he reaches down, he steals Jake’s wallet and just walks away. 

 

Alison Leiby: [laughs] Santa. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We see him taken to the hospital and he’s taken to see a Dr. Stuart. And because he’s like, I can’t explain all this, I slipped and hit my head on the curb and my back is all fucked up. The only problem is everything he says now sounds like he is mentally ill. You know, he’s begging for a chiropractor. He’s saying Santa Claus stole his wallet. You know, like, they’re like, okay, sir, we’ll just take you in—

 

Alison Leiby: They’re like, I don’t know what that’s all about. But no. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison, unfortunately, as they take him to the hospital, they start to take him down, flight by flight. And he looks and he turns and in one of his rooms, he sees a crumpled up children’s bicycle and he gasps, he says, Gabe? They take him down into what is supposed to be like again, like the, like mental ward. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we take, past all these people, like one guy hits his head against the window until it bleeds. There is a cage over the hallway where other patients who are amputees are crawling on the cage. They take him down further until there’s just a hallway full of bloody organs and body parts. It’s like, again, he’s being taken down into hell. 

 

Alison Leiby: Circles of hell, yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We see another jerky headed masked man. Finally, they take him into the O.R., they strap him down. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm mm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he looks and sees that one of the nurses is Jezzie. And he says, please, I’m asking you to please, I need to go home. And the doctor tells him, you are home. You’re dead. 

 

Alison Leiby: What? 

 

Halle Kiefer: He says what? And they tell him you’ve been killed, don’t you remember? And then they insert a needle into his forehead. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We cut back to Vietnam and we see again the underside of leaves as Jake hears the medics say we’re losing him. Jake wakes up again in 1975. He’s in his hospital bed. He has survived whatever surgery he had. And Sarah has brought Jed and Eli to come see their father in the hospital. And he says, I’m not dead, Sarah. I’m alive. She says, of course you’re alive. We’re here with you, you know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Scary. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Sarah tells him, Jacob, I still love you. Whatever it’s worth. And he hears this voices in his ear say, dream on. Fortunately, Louis, the chiropractor, who was sort of his only beacon, you know, his only beacon of hope, shows up. 

 

Alison Leiby: His marriage counselor also? [laughter]

 

Halle Kiefer: Basically, yea. Shows up and demands to see Jake. And Jake calls him Louis runs in. The nurses and orderlies rush in after him, and Louis threatens them all with a crutch before getting Jake up and getting him out of the hospital. At his office, he does some more chiropractoring on Jake, who tells him I was in hell, Louis, and I don’t want to die. And Louis quotes 14th century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, who said basically that he saw hell, too. And he says, the only thing that burns in hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life. Your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away, but they’re not punishing you. They’re freeing your soul. So if you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on, you see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth. Alison, I got to ask you this at this point, who will survive? 

 

[voice over]: Who will survive? 

 

Alison Leiby: All right. Who’s who’s in play here? 

 

Halle Kiefer: All right. We have Jake. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay, we’ve got Jezzie. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We’ve got Sarah and the boys. 

 

Alison Leiby: I think Sarah and the boys are already dead. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay. And we got Louis, the chiropractor. 

 

Alison Leiby: I hope he dies. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Just because he’s a chiropractor, not because of anything else.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, practicing chiropractory is not good. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then the mysterious man who helped him during the car explosion. 

 

Alison Leiby: I think he will survive. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay. Great.

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Halle Kiefer: Louis sort of levers Jake up. And after his adjustment, Louis steps forward. He’s able to stand and there is sort of like this Lazarus moment, like he was so badly injured, he just had surgery and now he’s totally fine. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: At home, we realize that Jake has pet mice, and I love that we didn’t see a shot of the mice tank until then. And they’re just like, so cute— 

 

Alison Leiby: Stop getting inspiration. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: I want them so bad. I just don’t know where I would put them in my apartment. I guess it’d be my living room. 

 

Alison Leiby: Well, that was like. I mean, getting Rizz the hard part was like, where does where does his stuff go? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Where does his shit live? Where does his little box of shit go? 

 

Alison Leiby: Well it was in the bathroom where my shit lives. So that’s kind of—

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly, your shit can be together, I think that’s nice. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So back home, Jake opens up, he has a box of important documents. He’s got his honorable discharge papers. He’s got photos of the guys in him in Vietnam. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. And how else would you get that if it didn’t happen? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right exactly, he’s like I know it what was happening? Yeah. He finds a letter written by Gabe, and, of course, it’s so cute, adorable and sad. And we see a flashback of him walking with Gabe down the sidewalk. And then Alison, we see Gabe with his little bike and we see Gabe taking his little bike into the street and he hits he drops his little baseball cards, and then we see a car slamming into the bike. And we know that that is how Gabe died. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Gabe looks in the mirror and in the reflection behind him, he can see Gabe running down the hallway. But when he reaches out to touch the glass, we see the the man whose head is shaking incredibly fast. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Jake sort of rears back in horror. And then we also see the man who ran to him after the explosion. Meanwhile, Jezzie comes home and is like, where the fuck have you been? You have been gone for two days. And he tells her, I was at the hospital and she says, which one? I called every hospital. You weren’t in a hospital. I would have found you. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oy. 

 

Halle Kiefer: The phone rings. And now Jake is, of course, incredibly fucking paranoid. He says, do not tell them I’m here. And she picks up and says, oh, Jake’s not here, can I take a message? The man on the other line says, I was in Vietnam. I was I worked for the government and we did. I worked in the chemical Warfare Department. I want you to meet me and I’ll tell you more. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Jezzie kind of reasoned, was like, we don’t fucking know this guy. I don’t think you should go meet him. 

 

Alison Leiby: I would go. I’d be like, I need answers. [laughs] This is untenable. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Jake says I have to. He hugs her and he goes. He meets him and the man. It is the man who saved him from the car explosion. It is Michael Newman, of course, Michael the archangel. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he says, I’m sorry, I’ve been monitoring you. But I felt like I had to step in and tell you. And he this is what explains basically the Army was worried that American men were too soft. So this is really all about toxic masculinity. [laughs]

 

Alison Leiby: Isn’t everything? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And also, also too soft to murder, basically? I mean, like—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —too too soft to be a part of the horrific project of war. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he invented a drug that they called the Ladder. And the idea is that that you’d be dosed with it and then it would increase your aggressiveness and you’d go into a berserker state, I guess. 

 

Alison Leiby: Jesus. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And you’d be able to fight and kill. But unfortunately, it sort of drives the human brain down into a state of primal rage and fear. 

 

Alison Leiby: Cool. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I just don’t think we should be coming up with these drugs. I’ll tell you right now Michael. 

 

Alison Leiby: It is not. It is not. Best case scenario, you create an effective killing machine. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah, and—

 

Alison Leiby: That’s the ideal here. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And Michael says that they experimented on Vietnamese prisoners of war who are like young men, young soldiers like Americans, drafted like 18 year old’s. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Fed them extreme doses. And he says, I. I never imagined people could do what they did to each other. 

 

Alison Leiby: Well, you should have. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So then they he then said then we went ahead and we put the Army decided to put a tiny dose in soldiers foods of one unit. And unfortunately, it was fucking Jake’s unit. 

 

Alison Leiby: Of course. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Jake says, oh my God. Like, that’s why no one can remember what happened the night because we were attacked. And then I guess we all sort of went to a fugue state. And Michael says, well, there was a fight, but there was it wasn’t with the Viet like the Viet Cong. You all killed each other. You tore each other, to pieces. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You turned on each other. That’s what happened. Cause if you create a killing machine. You can’t control a killing machine. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. You can’t be like and now only kill these people. It’s like no, we’re they’re just killing machines. They’re aggression. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Jake leaps into a cab after this to head home, and he gives the cabbie all the money he has, and he says, can you take me home? And then we see he’s, he’s during this cab ride back in Vietnam. And we finally see who stabbed Jake with the bayonet, which is another one of the men in the unit, not one that we knew, but clearly another American— 

 

Alison Leiby: Another American soldier. Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Finally, he arrives at his real home, Sarah’s apartment. And it is funny because it is like there is a doorman. It is gorgeous. The implication being like, this is what you could afford at a philosophy professor salary. I just don’t think so. Maybe I’m wrong. And the doorman says, Dr. Singer, I haven’t seen you in so long. Jake walks in, but his family isn’t there. We just see their half eaten pie and they’re half finished homework. And we hear Louis talking again about if you’re holding on to life, then you see Devil’s because you are holding on to something they should let go. If you’re ready to go, you will see angels. And again, we see flashbacks from Jake’s life when he was a child. Then with, walking with Gabe, Sarah and the children, and he hears a toy box and he turns and he sees Gabe sitting at the bottom of the stairs. And Gabe hugs him and says it’s okay. And together they walk up the stairs to Jacob’s Ladder, ostensibly to Heaven. And we cut to finally in the medical tent in Vietnam, we see the medicals call time and they say—

 

[clip from Jacob’s Ladder]: He’s gone. He looks kind of peaceful the guy. Put up a hell of a fight, though. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So Alison, Jake was dead the whole time. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: This was all his dying fantasy. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay, so this was all what he was imagining, like, in those kind of flashes of consciousness? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 

 

Alison Leiby: As he was, like dying? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then we end on a text in a horror movie, which if you listen to the podcast, you know, I fucking love text in a horror movie. 

 

Alison Leiby: Halle loves text. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s just like the authority, the gravitas, I don’t know. 

 

Alison Leiby: There is something, there is something very like special and important about it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. It’s like you tell me exactly what I’m supposed to fucking take from this. And finally, the last shot is it was reported that the hallucinogenic drug BZ was used in experiments on soldiers during the Vietnam War. The Pentagon denied the story. Well, Alison, I wanted to add a little addendum to that, because this came out in 1990. Wouldn’t you know it? They did.

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, wow. I wonder. What a surprise. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So and I was thinking maybe we can make a link tree, because, like, this is just stuff that I was able to Google. I’m obviously not a professional researcher, but this information is out there. This is a article on CNN from 2012 called Vets Feel Abandoned After Secret Drug Experiments. And it is about a unfortunately, that’s the thing about the draft. It’s not simply that you’re being forced to go to war, it’s that you then have the military. And this ran from 1955 to 1975 is allowed to basically give you whatever and you have to take it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you are a prisoner of the U.S. military. If you are drafted into, like that is, they are in control of everything you do. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So this particular event or this particular experiment that was performed on American soldiers happened at a place called Edgewood Arsenal. And this, again, ran for 20 years. And military researchers subjected human subjects to basically all sorts of stuff. So they were exposed to nerve gases—

 

Alison Leiby: This was happening in the United States? 

 

Halle Kiefer: In the United States. 

 

Alison Leiby: Not on foreign soil okay. [both speaking] Not that it makes it any different but. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So this is in the United States. And if you want to read more about it again, we will link it. There is a publicly available website on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website called the Edgewood Aberdeen Experiments. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And it admits and says the U.S. Army Chemical Corps conducted classified medical studies at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, and basically dosed American soldiers. About 7,000 soldiers were given 250 different chemicals. And this is all according to the Department of Defense. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And included in those chemicals, in addition to nerve agents, mustard agents, regular caffeine and alcohol psychoactive agents, including LSD, PCP, cannabinoids and BZ. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So if you actually want to read the declassified documents, they are in the CNN article I mentioned, which, again, is called Vets Feel Abandoned After Secret Drug Experiments. You can read the declassified documents. And the reason this all came out and that are specifically about BZ and how that they were tested on soldiers. And that’s only sort of the beginning of it. There were also tests LSD was tested, on them of course. And the V.A. page exists basically, like if you think that you could be get benefits from these experiments, let us know. And then this is an article from the Army Times. This is from 2017. Basically, there are Vietnam veterans as part of the veterans advocacy group Vietnam Veterans of America brought a class action fucking lawsuit against the Army and forced them to have to provide care for these Vietnam vets who were exposed to these chemical and biological agents. So the government had to admit that they were exposed. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And apparently this kind of testing, according to the lawsuit, like what the Army admitted after lawsuit was happened between 1942 to 1975. Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: So all through the end of World War II, through the end of the Vietnam War. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And so this actually is related. There’s a 2009 lawsuit filed by the vet— The Vietnam Veterans of America group. So this is something they did. And it’s just one of those things where in 2015, the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the Army, and it’s not in the VA. The Army itself has to provide veterans with medical care related to the testing. And that’s what’s fucked up, is that like not only, you know, did the Pentagon at the time as the as the end note does say the Pentagon denied doing this, all of these soldiers then had to fight for decades to even get covered because they were trying to deny that you can’t possibly be sick. Right. And I think, again, these are this is our month of political. Every horror movie is political. But this boy this is a political one.

 

Alison Leiby: This is very, very head on. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I think for me, this is a good example of like I don’t we don’t know much about the Vietnam War like. 

 

Alison Leiby: No we are too young. [laughs] But.

 

Halle Kiefer: We’re too yeah, we’re too old. We couldn’t possibly no. But this is a great example, like how horror horror’s, a language that we use to talk about horrifying things and there’s fucking not much more horrifying than the idea that not only are you being forced to go to war but the government and the military are experimenting on you while you’re doing it, and unfortunately that is part of the legacy of America. Is that you absolutely—

 

Alison Leiby: And that you may or may not even be aware it’s happening and—

 

Halle Kiefer: And then have to fight the people who did this to you to pay for your medical care is so horrifying. But again, it felt like if we’re doing this movie, we had to provide some sort of information. 

 

Alison Leiby: One hundred percent. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And again, this is just what’s a publicly what I could Google and look for myself. Obviously, there are people who know much more about it. Unfortunately, this I don’t think, either surprises either of us—

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —to find out about. It’s tragic, but it’s not surprising. 

 

Alison Leiby: At all. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And again, these are the documents are declassified. So if you want to learn more about it, we’ll we’ll post some links. And this relates to the specifically to the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. But I’m sure there are other examples there that you can also find. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, there must be. 

 

Halle Kiefer: All right. So I’m so sorry to tell you guys that because but now we know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Now we know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And so for us all to think about and sit with. Alison. Speaking of the movie itself, can you tell me some fatal mistakes that you think that anyone may have made in the movie Jacob’s Ladder? 

 

[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, boy, there’s there’s kind of only the illusion of of free will and control in this movie. So. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 

 

Alison Leiby: There I would say, you know, the US government, you know, getting involved in Vietnam, instituting the draft and then using the conscripted soldiers to test chemicals that make them so violent they kill each other. I would say those are all pretty fatal mistakes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: But when we’re talking more about, like the plot of the movie and who was making them, I would say the chiropractor did not need to be sharing what Sarah felt about her ex-husband.

 

Halle Kiefer: Wow. That’s a really. I hadn’t thought about that in particular. But I. You know, when it’s like, it is hard—

 

Alison Leiby: It’s really not his business. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: I know you’re a chiropractor. You’re basically someone’s priest slash father. I’m sure you feel like ah I’ll just get these kids back together. But I do. That does seem like a wild overstep of ethical boundaries. 

 

Alison Leiby: If any of my doctors even knew who my exes or like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: They’re just, like, don’t tell me what they’re up to. Like, I can’t. That’s. It’s such an overstep. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Also, like, I’m sure she doesn’t like, even if you guys both decided this was the best idea. Like, I’m sure she does love him, so that’s not even like, oh, she loves you. Like, you should get back together. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: There’s always going to be love there. [laughter] He’s the father of her children. 

 

Alison Leiby: It’s wild. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: But it doesn’t mean she wants the chiropractor to intervene to get them back together. That being said, I would watch that rom com where Danny Aiello—

 

Alison Leiby: One hundred—

 

Halle Kiefer: —is a chiropractor who tries to get a couple back together. I would watch that. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. A Pop at Love or something terrible. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Um, yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: So I would I would say that that outrageous breach of trust would be a big one. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, no you’re actually right. Every, other than that, like, Jake, really did, was trying his best. Like again—

 

Alison Leiby: He was talking to the right people. He was going like he was, like, taking things seriously and communicating with people what was going on. He found out, like, in the the world of the movie, he did everything he could. 

 

Halle Kiefer: 100%. Yeah. And other than that again. He didn’t know he was caught in a dream of dying in between life and death. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So at a certain point, if you don’t have the information, what can you do? That being said, I think that I have an existential problem with the end of this movie, because the screenwriter very specifically is like, this is about like moving from this like life into death. And like, actually like I just maybe took issue with the fact that like, well, I guess it kind of worked out in the end because he got to be with his son. It’s like, yeah, he had to be tortured, like for eternity in between stages because he was dosed with a psycho psychoactive drug and then mur— Like killed in Vietnam. I’m like, there is no way to spin this and not make it a tragedy. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, it is only a tra— It is like I don’t care how, like, happy the reunion is. It’s still. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Beyond tragic. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So, I don’t know, maybe that’s where I, but just that’s just where I’m at with things. But yeah. And then where would you put this movie? On the spooky scale, Alison? 

 

Alison Leiby: Oof. 

 

[voice over]: A spooky scale. 

 

Alison Leiby: I think this is a solid eight for me. I think the between like the connection to even separate from like the research and the papers that have been uncovered that prove that this kind of psychological experiments were happening within the U.S. military. Just like knowing that the Vietnam War was real, that there was like that. All of those. Like the PTSD from it is like all of those things, like the reality of it is so scary because it is so tied to actual reality that we both know and many have experienced. But then also, just like again, the instability of like of feeling like your reality isn’t real is so terrifying because what do you. There’s nothing to grasp on to. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: There’s no constants. Like he’s flipping between all these different, like stages, which are all just kind of like an ascent to death, I guess. But like, if you don’t know what’s real and who you can trust and things keep changing in front of your eyes. Like there’s just something. So. Upsetting about all of that. And then also, just like the visuals of of pretty much everything that I saw. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I—

 

Alison Leiby: In the trailer. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I agree. You know, I think I’m really battling with I don’t find anything scary. I was really upset watching this. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I was really distraught, but I was not scared. So I feel like even the elements that I think are genuinely fucking terrifying in this movie, I don’t know. I think I unfortunately feel like I’m entering a new level of like, I’m going to need someone to fucking scare me. And to be fair, this is more of a drama like this is exploring a lot of like—

 

Alison Leiby: Totally. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —big fucking themes and historical events. So this is not necessarily designed to like, you know—

 

Alison Leiby: Be just purely scary, yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So I’m going to say five. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I do agree. Like the elements are really fucking scary. The acting is great. It’s beautifully shot. The body horror stuff is really scary, but I think maybe I was just so mad [laughs] about the Vietnam War and—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —reading this stuff that I was more enraged rather than afraid, if that makes sense. 

 

Alison Leiby: I think that that makes sense. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And that’s good. It’s good to be enraged a lot of the time. I think it’s— 

 

Alison Leiby: It’s good to be enraged. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —very helpful. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And yeah, thank you so much for listing everybody. We really appreciate it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we’ll be back be back next week. In the meantime—

 

Alison Leiby: Another political horror. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: To ruin for everybody. But yeah, until then, I guess we just got to ask if you wouldn’t mind. 

 

Alison and Halle: Please keep it spooky. 

 

Alison Leiby: Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production. We’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefer and Alison Leiby. The show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy and Ewa Okulate. Follow @ruinedpodcast on Instagram and Twitter for show updates and @theradiopoint and @crookedmedia for more original content. [music plays]