For the 50th film in our series (our first real milestone), the as-yet-childless Matt Seelke brought us our second David Lynch film (and to this point, almost 250 films in, still the last). Since his feature, 1986’s Blue Velvet, stars Isabella Rossellini, Matt decided to start us off with some of her directorial efforts – a few entries from her Green Porno series from Sundance, which features colorful cardboard and foam exposition of various animal sexual behavior. But I don’t recall exactly which episodes we saw, so I’l let you Google them to your heart’s content instead.
Our feature is probably David Lynch’s best-known film, though perhaps he’s even better known for the TV series Twin Peaks. I guess there’s Dune, and there’s Mulholland Drive, but when I think of Lynch films, Blue Velvet comes up first.
The film opens with an idyllic sequence of suburban scenes of the fictional Lumberton set to Bobby Vinton’s eponymous song – a sequence of scenes that quickly go bad and result in a gardening man being stung by a bee and going into anaphylactic shock. Yep, this is going to be a grim film. The man’s pansy rock-throwing son Jeff Beaumont returns to town to visit him in the hospital, and while wandering about happens to find a severed human ear in a meadow.
He takes the ear to the police, and while probing the detective for more information (not forthcoming) he meets the detective’s hot ’80s feathered-haired daughter Sandy. Together they begin to probe into the case themselves. They’re awkward. And she’s still in high school, so there may be some statutory concerns there. Also, they break into a woman’s apartment, and I’m really confident there are some statutory concerns there.
Posing as a bug inspector, he gets into the apartment and snatches some keys which he assumes may be to the front door (he’s right), and they make plans to break in later that evening when the occupant – Rossellini’s Dorothy Vallens – ought to be performing at a nightclub. Of course, first they go off to see her perform, which seems to defeat the purpose of breaking into her apartment when she’s not home. Guess what song she sings? That’s right, Highway to Hell by AC/DC!
“I don’t know if you’re a detective, or a pervert,” says Sandy before Jeff goes to break in. “That’s for me to know and you to find out,” he says. I’m really going with pervert here. Naturally, she shows up almost as soon as he breaks in because they stayed and watched her stupid show and Jeff is forced to hide in the closet. This allows him to overhear a phone call which implies that somebody has kidnapped and is holding her son. But, when she discovers him in the closet, she begins to ravish him at knife point, which is really kind of weird. Unfortunately for Jeff and his blue ballvets her appointed john Frank Booth shows up and he’s forced to hide in the closet again during the most disturbing nitrous-sniffing sex scene ever put to film. At any rate, it appears that Frank has kidnapped Dorothy’s husband and child – the ear may be the husband’s – and is forcing Dorothy into this sex slavery thing.
So Jeff finds Frank and his henchmen, and follows him. You’d think Jeff isn’t very smart, but he actually only does some staking out, which is less dumb and impulsive than you’d think. He’s also playing both sides of the equation, trying to horn in on Sandy while getting his fix with Dorothy on the side. He becomes her “special friend”. But when Frank shows up when Jeff’s leaving her apartment, well, Frank isn’t happy. He loads Jeff and Sandy up with the boys and they head over to Ben’s – this apparently is the drug den where Dorothy’s kid is. Ben and Frank pop some pills and do some bizarre karaoke over warming Pabst Blue Ribbon, then it’s off for more joyriding and a savage beating out by the lumbermill.
The next day Jeff goes down to the police station to give them some info and realizes that one of the Frank Booth gang is a detective at the very police department, so he brings his information to Sandy’s dad personally. But when he and Sandy are riding around after a date and they run across a naked and raving Dorothy…well, it kind of puts a strain on the relationship. It evinces a great number of Laura-Dern-Crying-Faces, and that’s really not a good look.
In the end Jeff ends up going over to Dorothy’s apartment for a final confrontation with Frank (simultaneous with the police raid on Frank’s) where he finds the dirty police officer and presumably Dorothy’s husband dead. He hides in the closet (for the THIRD time) and kills Frank with the dirty cop’s gun. I know, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The End.
In the end, I’m really not a big fan of this movie. The bottom line is that the plot makes very little sense. There’s some sort of drug ring with a policeman gone bad, and there’s kidnapping and torture and whatnot all over no particularly good reason. Few of the characters’ actions make any sense at all, particularly at the ending, where everybody sort of magically ends up in the same place. There is way too much hiding in the closet for plausibility, and there are about five minutes of scenes just involving Kyle MacLachlan ascending and descending the staircase to Rossellini’s apartment. The dialogue is stilted. The acting is almost uniformly horrid. Kyle MacLachlan is so bad, you’d think David Lynch didn’t notice him at all in Dune, or he’d never have hired him back again. And there are freaky bad mechanical robins at the end. Have I covered it? Yeah, that probably covers it.