David Lynch’s Blue Velvet was a subliminal and strange film. To this day, the image of Dean Stockwell as Ben – lip-synching to Candy Colored Clown while Dennis Hopper as Frank goes into sexual raptures – is etched in the mind of those who watched it.
Not to mention a stark naked Isabella Rosellini (“I have you inside of me”) holding a knife to Kyle MacLachlan and telling him to touch her breasts.
Don’t try to follow the plot too closely. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The movie opens with shots of small-town America. Roses blow in the breeze wafting through a graveyard. A man watering his lawn has a stroke. The earth rumbles. Black creatures rise from the soil . . . and a boy finds a human ear in the woods.
The boy is naive Jeffrey Beaumont, played by Kyle MacLachlan, and he decides to do some investigating on his own, enlisting the aid of a local cop’s daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern), to solve the mystery.
He gets swept into a world of sex and violence and a sinister plot involving sleazy nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Rossellini), whose husband and baby have been kidnapped by Frank Booth (Hopper).
Hopper is brilliant as a psychotic who beats women, sucks oxygen from a breathing mask, and says “fuck” more often than Al Pacino in Scarface.
In fact, he holds the record in this movie for saying the most F-words in one sentence in movie history.
From this point on, nothing in Blue Velvet makes one shred of sense. “It’s a strange world,” says the ossified Jeffrey. It’s an even stranger movie.
As is David Lynch’s norm, the film is full of bizarre characters and scenes. In one scene, MacLachlan performs the chicken walk for Laura Dern . . . erm, why? who knows.
Blue Velvet is quite probably one of the sickest films ever made.
At one point, while Jeffrey hides in the closet, the lunatic Frank pulls out his oxygen mask, inhales large doses, slams his fist into one of Isabella’s orifices that is not her ear and stuffs her bathrobe down her throat before sexually mutilating her.
The local police chief is found tortured and electrocuted, riddled with bullets and sitting upright in an easy chair. We see Isabella wobbling naked across somebody’s front lawn covered with teeth marks and cigarette burns . . . you get the picture?
Laura Dern had no qualms about appearing in the film, but the roles of Dorothy and Frank were harder to fill for different reasons. Getting anyone to accept the former part was understandably tricky, given what the actress was required to perform.
After several rejections, David Lynch approached Helen Mirren, but his attentions quickly turned towards Isabella Rossellini following a chance encounter in a New York restaurant.
As for Frank, Hopper’s name had been mentioned, but Lynch was nervous. Hopper had a reputation, and it seemed there could be too many impossible problems to overcome. Given assurances that the former addict – who once boasted of imbibing a half-gallon of rum a day, around 28 beers and three grams of cocaine to sober up – was on the wagon now, Lynch finally relented, and it worked.
Violence, graphic sex and nudity, sadomasochism and every perversion known to man abound in plentiful supply, accompanied by plenty of lurid camp, eye-rolling acting, idiot dialogue and off-key choruses of the Bobby Vinton song, Blue Velvet.
You’ll never listen to that song the same way again.
The movie was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina but was renamed ‘Lumberton’ in the film. Midway through shooting, the producers discovered there was a real Lumberton nearby and negotiated use of the name in return for shooting a small section of the movie there.
J. Michael Hunter