Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on November 20th, 2011
Deep inside most people’s hearts lies a layer of curiosity. Many of us could go that one step farther and say it boils down to perversion. Whether it involves a spectacular car crash or two lovers in the throws of passion, there are uninhibited moments that we want to see. But what happens when those moments go beyond curiosity and straight into voyeurism? Worse yet, perhaps straight into a very dangerous situation? Well then one might be feeling much like Jeffery Beaumont in Blue Velvet, one of David Lynch’s best movies.
In the serene peaceful town of Lumberton, we see blooming flowers, kids walking and Mr. Beaumont (played by Jack Harvey) watering the grass. However, the water hose hits a snag and gets caught up in the bushes. As he struggles with the apparatus, his heart suddenly gives out and he falls to the concrete below. As he lays there motionless on the ground, a child comes out to see what happened and the dog decides to take a drink. Ants lurch out of the ground and we fade to black.
Jeffery Beaumont (played by Kyle MacLachlan) has come back to the town of Lumberton to see his father who is now in the hospital. On his way back from the hospital (the father did not have very much to say), he pauses in the light forest to throw some rocks. On the ground, he sees a horrific sight. A human ear, being eaten alive by ants. Jeffery studies it for a moment and then grabs a paper bag (also lying on the ground) to collect the loose body part. He decides that a trip to the police station is in order.
There he meets an old friend, Detective Williams (played by George Dickerson) who becomes concerned about the situation and decides to open the investigation. A police line is drawn in the area and the area is fully explored. Unfortunately, no further parts can be found. However, the coroner is able to determine that the man behind the ear was male and that the ear was cut off with a pair of scissors. A further visit with the Detective at his home, Jeffery learns that he has to keep quiet. Jeffery agrees but still wants to know more.
Somewhat dejected, Jeffery leaves the detective’s home but is approached by a stranger who turns out to be the detective’s daughter, Sandy (played by Laura Dern). She tells him that she has heard certain details about the case from her father (since her room sits directly above his study). One of those details is that Dorothy Vallens might be a suspect in the case. As it turns out, she lives over in the Deep River apartments on Lincoln St. All the way up on the seventh floor in fact. Interested, Jeffery and Sandy devise a plan to learn more.
The plan is fairly simple. Jeffery will pose as a bug man there to spray for the local apartments. In about three minutes from when he enters the apartment, Sandy is supposed to knock on the door of the apartment posing as a Jehovah’s Witness. Then once Dorothy Vallens is distracted, Jeffery will able to look for more clues to see how and if she is involved in the mystery. Jeffery starts the ascent to the seventh floor after being forced to take the stairs. Once Dorothy (played by Isabella Rossellini) opens the door to meet Jeffery, his whole world changes forever.
As I get older, I find myself able to appreciate a lot more films than I would have even ten years ago. To be honest, when I was younger most of David Lynch’s complexity would have been completely lost on me. The characters in this film are great almost all the way around. Dennis Hopper who plays the notorious Frank Booth is an awesome villain. Scary, harrowing, and absolutely no redeeming features, he is everything a thriller bad guy should be.
Also of worthy mention is Isabella Rossellini who plays the part of a battered woman in desperate need of love and safety to a tee. They honestly could have not picked a better person for the part. The only part I felt dissatisfied with was that of Laura Dern’s Sandy. Since then, she has gone on to play more interesting parts (such as Jurassic Park and Inland Empire) but here I felt as if the part brought absolutely nothing to the table. Her motivation seems completely lost and it serves as a distraction instead of a compliment.
The video is in 2.35:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. Both the video and audio were something I pondered for a little while. First, the video: this might be the best it has ever looked but I still felt like half the movie was a bunch of walking around in the dark and there were many points where detail was completely missing. Whether this was done on purpose or was a result of poor lighting I can only speak to what I was able to see. When it is daylight (rare) or inside of well lit areas, the color is sharp and the detail does take an uptick. One can certainly enjoy it, but it is far from perfect.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 DTS-HD track for English. In addition, we get a Spanish Mono, French DTS, Portuguese Stereo, Italian DTS, Deutsch DTS and Castellano DTS (Spanish Traditional). The audio fared a little better as dialog was crisp & clear and I never had to turn down or turn up the proceedings once I got going. Surrounds and environment effects were also present and gave the film a sense of being in Lumberton and not in a set somewhere. Music obviously plays a very big part here and I did love the way it enveloped many scenes. Subtitles are also included for English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Deutsch, Castellano, Japanese, and Nederlands. (Get all that?)
- Documentary: Mysteries of Love 1:10:44: This documentary was originally made in 2002 but it is an extremely documentary that goes over every facet of the movie. One of the things I found weird though was that they talk about David Lynch (and use old footage to boot) as if he were dead. In fact, he is very much alive as of writing this. He’s been removed from mainstream movies for a few years, but he is still kicking. Anyway, this talks about how David created it, working with a small budget (even big actors like Dennis Hopper were barely working above scale), and how he chose characters. It also touches on the music for the film and how it really influenced critical scenes.
- Newly Discovered Lost Footage 51:42: New for this blu-ray, we get some lost footage from the vault so to speak. The original film was supposed to go about four hours, but due to contractual obligations, it went back to 2. These eleven or so scenes (you could argue there is more here since a lot of these are extended sub-plots but there are eleven chapters). We have a little bit of everything here including more of Frank’s joyride, more of Jeffery’s mother (played by Priscilla Pointer) and an entire sub-plot involving Jeffery’s college girlfriend played by Megan Mulally. Honestly, these cuts were made partially for the “R” rating (much more nudity) and with three love interests, I think a lot more people would have cared less for Jeffery.
- A Few Outtakes 1:33: Exactly what it sounds like, a few goofs to remind you that it wasn’t one hundred percent serious.
- Siskel & Ebert: At the Movies (1986) 1:30: They refer to this in documentary, but here is Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert talking about the movie. Siskel (lord I miss him) takes the positive side and Ebert rips apart pretty badly that Isabella Rossellini was mistreated and should not been subjected to what went on in the movie. Ebert is a great critic but I think he was way off here.
- Vignettes 2:35: Four quick talks or tiny featurettes are presented here. The only thing I could take away from them? David Lynch likes Filet O’Fish. The Robin section is a good listen too.
- Trailer/Tv Spots 2:33: The trailer is first, followed by the two TV Spots. Honestly, it is no wonder that this film didn’t even crack 9 million domestically. All they did in the trailer was show a few parting shots and display a bunch of critic review highlights about how we should feel about the movie. I guess it is a pot kettle black situation regarding myself but more footage from the film was sorely needed.
Notes: Quick note, but this is another Fox catalog release. The extras are quite good but the presentation is lousy with a typical grey background. Throw that in with an eco-case and you have your typical Fox catalog level blu-ray.
For those who are not aware of this film’s intensity, there are plenty of harsh subjects here to deal with. Rape, drug use (nitrous oxide better known as “laughing” gas that is inhaled through a mask), violent and rough sex, as well as good old fashioned nudity. Due to cut-aways at appropriate moments is probably the only way this film scrapped by with an “R” rating. However, those same cuts is what makes some of these moments that much disturbing. Hopper and Rossellini are amazing and deserve all of the accolades they have received for their parts down through the years.
The disc’s overall performance can be described as above average. I am not completely happy with the video, but the extras and audio more than make up a decent 25th anniversary package. Again, I wish that Fox would give the blu-ray menus more pizazz (and I am not a big fan of auto-play) but any fan of David Lynch and/or erotic thrillers should be more than pleased. A definite recommendation here and a cultastic film that can be appreciated by older audiences for years to come.