Since the new Twin Peaks is out tonight, I thought it would be a cool idea to introduce you guys to some David Lynch films that you may or may not have watched. If you don’t know who David Lynch is, he is basically the embodiment of, what multiple sites have called him, “a renaissance man of modern filmmaking” and does just about everything you can think of a person doing. He is a director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and producer. He has created a TON of cult classics that have not only blown peoples’ minds, but changed their perspectives on a lot of things, especially living in small town or Los Angeles, but at the end of the day, David Lynch is a surreal and complicated filmmaker at heart.
Now, I’m not saying you should watch these films in order, but I’ll lay out the important ones first and then get into stuff that you can see any ol’ time. So, let’s get started.
1. Eraserhead (1977)
This masterpiece was David Lynch’s first feature length movie that combines surrealism and body horror all mashed into one. The plot is pretty damn simply… complicated. Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is a man who is left with a lizard or serpent like child, born from a one night stand with his then girlfriend Mary X. Henry, however, starts to also have hallucinations and vision of strange things that may or may not be real. The film is known to be a great cult classic and is one of the coolest midnight movies with El Topo (1970), Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Pink Flamingos (1972) to name a few. If you’re gonna start with some David Lynch weirdness, why not try out the best of the best first.
2. The Elephant Man (1980)
The Elephant Man is one of the most heartbreaking films on this list. The Elephant Man tells the real life story of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man who was exhibited in freak shows before he was taken to a London Hospital. The film takes us into that history with John Hurt, playing John Merrick and Anthony Hopkins, playing the doctor Frederick Treves, who takes him from out of the freakshows. It’s a heartbreaking movie and incredibly acted from start to finish. Fun fact: the Academy created the Best Makeup and Hairstyling because this movie had the best of that year.
3. Twin Peaks (1990)
You knew this was coming. Twin Peaks has become a cult classic over the years and for good reasons. It’s one of the most bizarre and brilliant television dramas that have ever been produced. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the show focuses on the death of high school teen and homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). FBI Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is sent to Twin Peaks to investigate and teams up with Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) to investigate the case, but it’s not a straight up murder that they’re investigating. It can’t be that simple guys. There’s something deeper, shady, and sinister going down in the town of Twin Peaks and you’ll never see it coming.
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
I actually still don’t know how to properly describe Blue Velvet to people, but I will try very hard for you guys. Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is just a normal guy, but one day he finds a ear in a backyard. (I know, I know, just hold on for me guys.) He goes on a small investigation to find out where it comes from, but takes a very sharp left turn into bigger investigation a nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) whose being held hostage by some f*cked up group of people, including ether-loving Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), who tortures her in brutal ways. Jeffrey discovers that there is way more to the surface of the small town and himself as he becomes intertwined with Dorothy’s life. Guys, just watch Blue Velvet. It’s a really great psychology, wtf of a movie.
5. Twin Peak: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
I know what you’re thinking Twin Peaks fans. “Why would you even put this anywhere near a list?” Well… because it’s Twin Peaks. No matter how you feel about Fire Walk with Me, it’s still a piece of the Twin Peaks history and dammit, it should be watched at least once! Directed and written by David Lynch and co-written by Robert Engels, the films tells the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s short life while going into the investigation of Teresa Banks. Most of the cast had returned for the movie except for Lara Flynn Boyle, who was replaced by Moira Kelly and Sherilyn Fenn because schedules suck. The film was met with… not so happy people and even though it was met with negative reviews, again, still apart of Twin Peaks. Also, you gotta watch this before you get into the series!
6. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Another movie that I can’t properly describe, but goddamnit, I will try! Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) is an actress that wants to make it big in L.A. Fresh into her environment, she meets a amnesiac woman Rita (Laura Elena Harring) and try try to figure out what happened to her and get back her memories. I can’t say much else without giving away most of the plot so I’ll just leave it there. I can tell you that there is a super cool (kinda?!) twist at the end of this psychological mystery film. The fun part about this movie is that it very much lets you come to your own conclusions of what the ending might mean. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. Mulholland Drive will always be there. Fun fact: Mulholland Drive was inspired by Audrey Horne’s character in Twin Peaks. They meant to send Audrey into a spinoff where she goes to Hollywood, but it didn’t pan out.
7. Inland Empire (2006)
Love is apparently a super f*cking dangerous when you’re on the set of a film that is cursed. That’s what Inland Empire presents us and it’s a really well done film by Lynch. Inland Empire follows the story of Nikki Grace, an actress whose perception of reality gets surreal and distorted as she falls head over heels for her co-star Devon Berk (Justin Theroux). She also starts taking on the characteristics of the character that she’s playing in a film that is cursed. Yeah, f*ckin’ bonkers. Laura Dern is outstanding in the lead role, she does a great job in Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart, but this movie, Laura just goes all out!
8. Dune (1984)
Dune is a great accomplishment, but I will warn you that when you go into Dune, be prepared to sit for awhile. Based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel with the same name, Dune is set in the future where there is a war brewing between families for control of Dune, or Arrakis. They mainly want it because the time travelling drug, “the spice” is vast on the planet and it’s the only place it can be found. I’ve watched this movie a couple of times and I’m still very unsure about it’s meaning, even though I totally should know what it’s about right now. In the scope of things, this was one of David Lynch’s most *raspberry noise* of movies. It was regarded as a flop, but I kinda disagree, for what it was at the time, Dune is an epic movie on a global scale and Kyle MacLachlan sports some pretty hair. OH, ALSO, THERE’S STING, so, yeah…. Watch it.
Honorable Mentions: Lost Highway (1997), The Alphabet (1968), Wild at Heart (1990), The Amputee (1974) and Six Men Getting Sick (1967)