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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.37%
Average: 4.63%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 4.63%

3 reviews, 90 user ratings

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Blue Velvet
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by Brian McKay

"Norman Rockwell takes it in the ass"
4 stars

In the beginning of BLUE VELVET, everything looks like some offbeat episode of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew hour set in a Norman Rockwell painting. But right about the time that Dennis Hopper shows and sucks on an oxygen mask, right before fisting poor Isabella Rosellini, you may find yourself wondering "What the hell just happened here?"

David Lynch is, of course, what happened here. And as he did in Twin Peaks, Lynch takes us right on through the smiling happy persona of middle American class values and shows us the sleazy and demented underworld that pulses beneath the thin veneer of normalcy.

Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is home from college to help run his father's hardware store while the old man recovers in the hospital from some hellacious accident (if the tracheotomy tube and head stabilizing rack are any indication). Home happens to be in the city of "Lumberton", which could have just as easily been called "Anytown, U.S.A.". Life is good here in Lumberton, with lots of honest folks and apple pie and . . . oh, what's this that Jeffrey's found while out on a stroll through a nearby field? Yup, that's a human ear, all right.

Rather than just remember the spot and call the cops, Jeffrey actually puts the ear in a paper bag and takes it to the police station (way to ruin a crime scene, kid! Nice one!). He gives it to Lt. Williams (George Dickerson), a friend of his father's, and the investigation commences.

Jeffrey's the inquisitive type, though, and when Williams refuses to give him any more information about the case, he decides to become a Junior Sleuth. Enlisting the aid of Williams' high-school aged daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern), Jeffrey discovers that a woman named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) is involved. Ever more curious, he talks Sandy into helping him stake out Dorothy's apartment and even hides inside the living room closet so that he can "Investigate" the situation (and watch Dorothy get naked as much as possible). Sandy agrees, because she is smitten with his charming "Golly gee" ways and chiseled, gay-porn-star good looks.

He quickly learns that Dorothy is being blackmailed by the psychotic and dangerous criminal Frank (Dennis Hopper). Do I really need to draw a detailed character sketch for Frank? It's Dennis Hopper sucking on an oxygen mask like Darth Vader in Snoop Dogg's green room, smacking Dorothy around while making her do creepy Oedipal sex games, and saying the word "Fuck" with a frequency and vigor that would make the kids from The Blair Witch Project blush. In other words - it's classic Hopper!

Despite the occasional aberration like Dune or The Straight Story, this is the kind of film that people really remember Lynch for. The use of fire to denote all-consuming obsession is bountifully present during the segue imagery, and the film's ambient sounds include the omnipresent background hum and throb that helps raise the sense of tension in a subtle but effective manner.

Among its weaknesses are a number of dialogue-driven scenes that seem stilted and implode on themselves, and certain occasional gaps of logic that are endured for the sake of forwarding the story (for example: when Jeffrey takes Sandy to the nightclub where Dorothy sings - are we really supposed to believe that a seventeen year old small-town police officer's daughter wouldn't be carded and turned away at the door?). And one more complaint - how many times did we have to hear that frigging "Blue Velvet" song (including a twangy little country-western version). We know what the God damn movie is called, already.

However the majority of Blue Velvet is a twisted and brutal little thriller. Hopper gives the highlight performance as the volatile Frank, providing a vivid contrast to the innocent curiosity and amorous teen fumblings of Dern and MacLachlan. Although at times it's hard to believe that this much murder and drug-dealing could go on in a supposedly small town like Lumberton, one must understand early on that this is Lynch's world - and in Lynch's world, you can always count on finding the sharp, rusty innards that churn just beneath the silver lining.

Although the story arc of BLUE VELVET is much more linear and conventional than later films like WILD AT HEART, LOST HIGHWAY or MULHOLLAND DRIVE, this film's influences on those sucessors is plainly evident, ensuring that it will always remain a touchstone of Lynch's portfolio.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/17/03 12:35:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2007 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/09/17 morris campbell overrated IMO 1 stars
8/08/17 Louise Badly-acted, unscary, pretentious tripe. Lynch IS overrated. 2 stars
11/18/11 Mike Groesbeck made my family VERY uncomfortable 5 stars
10/06/11 David Hollingsworth Perverse, messed up, but brilliant film 5 stars
7/18/11 Bob Dog Lynch's Ultimate Masterpiece. 5 stars
6/11/11 Jack Lantern Lynch has done a lot better, but it's still good. 3 stars
7/03/10 matt suave. goddamn you're one suave fucker 5 stars
12/24/09 Jeff Wilder One of the best films of the 80s. Lynch's masterpiece. It gets under your skin. 5 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A very twisted film noir. Cudos to Dennis Hopper. 5 stars
7/26/09 Bluemagoo Inspired insanity, a landmark film! 5 stars
4/15/09 K. Sear I've never been much of a Lynch fan so I'm surprised to say that I really liked this movie! 5 stars
10/05/08 Dr.Lao Disturbing, unsettling even a bit replusive...I liked it! 4 stars
10/31/07 Jenny Overrated. All style, no substance. I can't believe people call this a classic 2 stars
9/03/07 MP Bartley Crawls under your skin like a bad sweaty dream. 4 stars
6/14/07 Bitchflaps I don't really dig David Lynch, but this and Mulholland Dr. are perhaps his best films. 4 stars
6/10/07 Bob Twin Peaks on nitrous. Wanna go for a ride, Neighbor? 5 stars
5/03/07 john One of a kind in my opinion. In my top ten films of all time. 5 stars
4/01/07 matthew intentionally naive, deceptively simple and ultimately great. dennis hopper is outstanding 5 stars
12/31/06 mr.mike i agree with the comments of indrid. 3 stars
11/14/06 cheezwzl You become Jeffrey Beaumont while watching this. Eerie. By the way, it was NitrousOxide. 5 stars
9/14/06 Josh Racine This and "The Elephant Man" are the highlights of Lynch's career. 5 stars
9/12/05 Total Crap Didn't know I had this movie- I watched it and it freaked me out. 4 stars
7/12/05 Tom Benton Dark, bizarre and beautiful; a Lynch masterpiece. 5 stars
6/21/05 R his most popular because it wrapped up all pretty for people, excellent, nonetheless. 5 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands "Pleasantville" meets "Deliverance." 5 stars
6/10/05 Indrid Cold I love Lynch, but this movie just doesn't do much for me, unlike the similar Mulholland Dr. 3 stars
5/29/05 Jake Not the masterpiece people have been claiming but still good 4 stars
5/12/05 Mike Lynch's best film by far 5 stars
8/12/04 DM At times too weird for its own good, but not bad overall 4 stars
8/01/04 Chris Amazing, but highly disturbing. Not my favorite Lynch film, though. 5 stars
7/21/04 Steve Adams Creepy 5 stars
7/21/04 Jamesiegod Man oh man oh man! -- It's Only The Bug Man. 5 stars
7/20/04 Jack Sommersby Lynch's masterpiece and one of the 10-best films of all time. 5 stars
6/05/04 Daveman Surrealism that doesn't make the viewer feel a million miles away, Lynch's best film. 2 stars
6/05/04 MyGreenBed Hopper's absolutely amazing here. Lynch is very assured directing (for once). 80's classic. 5 stars
3/25/04 Lord Haw Haw Twisted and fascinating. Frank Booth is one scary SOB. 5 stars
2/01/04 EdRosengaard Not his best, but still damn good 5 stars
12/31/03 LIAM JACKSON frank booth:a man with too much testosterone and too short a temper.twisted stuff.***** 5 stars
12/06/03 john truly intense and scary at times - Lynch reaches perfection with this film 5 stars
9/18/03 Me You're all brainwashed Lynch minions. Grow a backbone and learn to think for yourselves 1 stars
9/08/03 tim great 5 stars
9/04/03 eddie LET'S FUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!! 5 stars
8/21/03 Jack Bourbon Loveable freakshow. 5 stars
8/17/03 Jon Lyrik Hopper is hoppin' mad, so is Lynch. Classic stuff. 5 stars
7/21/03 I Would No other 80's film comes close. 5 stars
7/09/03 paul fernandez you can love it or hate it at the same time. very brilliant film making style 4 stars
7/06/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back MoFos!!!) Further down the page, you'll see Matthew Smith's got the idea. 4 stars
5/25/03 John40 masterpiece 5 stars
4/15/03 Jack Bourbon Gotta love how the DVD mocks Roger Ebert simply by showing his review. :D 5 stars
3/08/03 LIAM JACKSON this film is awesome! i loved it! it's so fucking bizarre and weird! great!**************** 5 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby The second-best American film ever made. 5 stars
12/07/02 Kyle Stinky. Only worth seeing because of the controversy. 3 stars
11/23/02 Charles Tatum Unmemorable raunch 3 stars
7/28/02 marcamus this film sucked! not worth a look. 1 stars
7/13/02 Edfink Lombardo The best film of the 80s. Hopper's best performance, and Dean Stockwell is hilarious. 5 stars
6/10/02 Matthew Smith it's up there as David Lynch's best film, along with Mulholland Drive, a classic 5 stars
5/16/02 Nila Mitchell Painful. Would have potential if it wasn't filmed in the 80's. 1 stars
3/21/02 The Man The great sick masterpiece. To watch it unfold is truly a pleasure. Many shocking moments 5 stars
3/05/02 Scottish Kilt One of the wierdest movie i have ever seen, Hopper's great though, his greatest performance 4 stars
2/19/02 R.W. Welch A little schizo but manages to keep your attention. 4 stars
2/19/02 Edwin Wanna sweet, suck yer feet 5 stars
12/02/01 Monster W. Kung I'm sorry, but this was righdown badly-acted mediocrity. 2 stars
11/27/01 Ian Barr The best film of the 80's? 5 stars
11/04/01 E-Funk To explain this film would be to ruin it. Lynch's best film to date. Hopper is amazing. 5 stars
10/25/01 Joe R. Now its dark. 5 stars
9/15/01 Trevor Not good on any level 1 stars
7/15/01 Basil Dennis Hopper made me have flashbacks of working at the phone sex line. 4 stars
6/05/01 Just like a Wop . . . Fuck Heineken!! Pabst Blue-Ribbon!! 5 stars
5/23/01 Bada Bing Crosby What can anyone say, this is the GrandDad of an entire genre 5 stars
4/14/01 The Bomb 69 wild, wacky shit, Hopper is amazing 5 stars
3/07/01 Mike It's a strange world, It's a strangle hold! 5 stars
3/04/01 Frank Booth II Heinekin?!?!?! Fuck that shit.......PABST BLUE-RIBBON!!!!! 5 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Gorgeous, horrifying, and unsettling. 5 stars
12/28/00 Viking a thinking man's horror movie !!! 5 stars
11/11/00 karl kukta bits and pieces 5 stars
8/20/00 Robin a lot like Twin Peaks, only better 5 stars
7/11/00 Jami Nothing short of brilliant. A sardonic, frightening, and grotesque look at suburbia 5 stars
5/03/00 cort major Great movie-Lynch is a master filmmaker 5 stars
5/02/00 Alanna S Insane, gothic, grotesque. Turns the filmic body inside out. 5 stars
3/03/00 Josh Really entertaining, suspencfull 4 stars
12/17/99 Frank Booth What are you looking at?!?! 5 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan Best movie ever? Probably. One of the Top 5 in my book? Sure. 5 stars
10/07/99 sophia962 I'd watch worse for Isabella. Self-conscious but watchable. 4 stars
9/24/99 Dr. Fardook Ah, Kyle MacLachlan: the only man who can break into an appartment and still get laid 5 stars
2/18/99 Bishop Great film, very weird, but great. This is the kind of stuff Lynch excels at. 5 stars
1/07/99 Jo Mama fuck that shit! Papst Blue Ribbon! 4 stars
1/03/99 Dasha Overrated and not scary at all. 2 stars
11/23/98 little jerry The last REAL Lynch film to date before he derailed with ANYTHING GOES juvenilia. 4 stars
11/06/98 Lord Of The Dunce Weird, good, strange, good, Lynch, good, gross, good. 4 stars
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  19-Sep-1986 (R)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2000



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