9 Effed-Up David Lynch Scenes
David Lynch is a director known for many things: dream sequences, surreal visuals, intense noise and maybe above all, sex. Sex is a trademark of Lynch’s and he almost never uses it conventionally. It always has a purpose, and usually—from sad masturbation scenes to terrifying rape scenes—a dark one.
1. Blue Velvet
Five words for you: “Mommy…baby wants to…” You can guess what the last word is.
In the surrealist Eraserhead (1977), David Lynch’s first feature, sex is not much fun at all. Reproduction is handled by The Man in the Planet who pulls a bunch of levers to produce deformed babies (no thanks to the Lady in the Radiator embodying the spirit of Nonoxynol-9 and stomping on sperm cells). Getting laid is a shameful activity that you will eventually be punished for. Raising a baby kills your sex life (okay, maybe that part isn’t all that surreal). Infidelity with your sexy neighbor kills your marriage. (Ditto.) Oh, and your baby may or may not resemble an overgrown penis and therefore your own screwed-up sexuality.
3. Lost Highway
Lynchian sex is possibly at its creepiest in Lost Highway (1997). The marriage bed of Patricia Arquette and Bill Pullman is presented as a desperate and unpleasant wasteland; as David Foster Wallace wrote in an essay about the movie, “Bill Pullman has frantic wheezing sex with a Patricia Arquette who just lies there inert and all but looking at her watch.”
4. Lumiere and Company
In 1995, 41 directors from around the world, including Spike Lee, Wim Wenders, and Lynch, made super short films using the original Cinematographe camera invented by the Lumiere brothers in the late 19th century. In an effort to recreate conditions similar to those of 1895, they followed these three rules: 1) shorter than a minute, 2) no synchronized sound, and 3) no more than three takes. Lynch’s contribution to the collaboration, entitled Premonition Following an Evil Deed, included a totally naked woman submerged in a water tank. Of course it did.
5. Mulholland Drive
We bet you think we’re going to talk about the lesbian scene between Naomi Watts and Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001). Please — that’s so atypical Lynch. The most startling — and therefore most Lynchian — sexual moment in that film was the solo sex scene with Watts: we’re fond of saying that there’s no wrong way to have sex, but if you’re crying hysterically while masturbating, then we’re pretty sure you’re doing something wrong.
6. The Amputee
In his 1974 short, The Amputee, a legless woman (the Log Lady from Twin Peaks) writes an emotional letter, which we hear her reading in her head — very unemotionally –while a nurse played by Lynch himself changes her dressings. Some kind of liquid (her emotion?) starts pouring out of one of her legs.
7. Twin Peaks
Only Lynch could get a two-season prime time television show on network TV that’s basically centered on the the murder of a homecoming queen (Laura Palmer) committed by her own father after years of him raping her. Talk about “feel good”! But you gotta love a man who can swing highbrow and low with his sex references — he named his series (and the fictional Pacific northwestern town it takes place in) Twin Peaks (1990), a pun that would be right at home in the movie Airplane.
8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
In the prequel to the television show, the rated-R movie Twin Peaks:Fire Walk With Me (1992) had the benefit — or the problem, depending on your perspective — of being able to show actual sex acts with female nudity. So audiences watched as Palmer and her fellow high school student, the prim white-socked Donna, took drugs and prostituted themselves at the local dive-cum-sex club.
9. Wild at Heart
In Wild At Heart (1990), young lovers Lula and Sailor (Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage) are on the run from a bunch of misfts hired by Lula’s mom to kill Sailor — she doesn’t want her daughter sleeping with him because he just got out of prison. And maybe also because he throws around lines like, “Man, I had a boner with a capital ‘O.’” At one point Lula says — in what could be a tagline for Lynchian sex — “This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.”