Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Horror Movie Countdown to Halloween: Lost Highway

In honor of Halloween Week, I am listing some of my favorite creep-o movies. I tried not to pick the obvious choices to add a little diversity from all the other Halloween movie lists...

Lost Highway

David Lynch’s Lost Highway is something of a test-run for his film Mulholland Drive; they both explore similar, nightmare-ish themes and storylines involving duel identities. But there’s something infinitely more disturbing and creepy about Lost Highway.

Lynch later said he realized that when he was writing the film he was subconsciously channeling the O.J. Simpson murders/trial, and that’s one way to look at things: shocking murders involving “famous” people and the mysteries behind them.

Bill Pullman, here at his Bill Pullmaniest, plays a noise-jazz musician named Fred Madison. He’s married to Renee, played by Patricia Arquette, who seems like she’s on tranquilizers during the whole film. They live in a very creepy, very modernistic house (which is actually David Lynch’s own house) with few windows and really deep, dark corners.  One day, they find a videotape on their doorstep. They watch it, and it reveals that someone has been filming their house. They think nothing of this at first—until more tapes show up, showing that whoever is filming their house is also going IN their house, and filming them while they sleep.

This is creepy enough already, but Lynch piles on their creepiness as Fred and Renee go to a party and Fred encounters the character known as The Mystery Man, played by Robert  Blake who later in real-life had his own very public O.J. Simpson-like murder trial. Blake is delightfully disturbing in the role, and his pale-white make-up aids in this. After a great/scary scene where the Mystery Man hands Fred a giant old cell phone and tells him to call his own house, where the Mystery Man ANSWERS the phone and then the one at the party and the one at the house laugh in stereo, things REALLY start going downhill for Fred, because Renee turns up dead and Fred is convicted of her murder.

 He has no memory of the murder,  but all that is moot anyway because one night Fred morphs into rebel teen Pete Dayton, played (terribly) by Balthazar Getty.

From here we try to figure out what the FUCK is going on, as Pete, formerly Fred, gets out of jail and starts having an affair with a woman named Alice, also played by Arquette. The Mystery Man pops up some more, and Robert Loggia steals nearly the whole film as whacked-out mobster Mr. Eddy—who , in keeping with the duel personality angle—might also be someone named Dick Laurent—who we are told at the beginning of the movie is dead.

Lost Highway doesn’t really make a lick of sense. Sure, you can try to figure things out, and probably get pretty close to solving the puzzle—but it doesn’t matter. The fact that things are so strange, and so out-of-left field aid in making the movie extra, extra creepy. It’s not really considered one, but this is a straight-up horror movie. Almost every scene drips with weird, sleazy menace. None of the characters seem to have souls, and also Gary Busey is in this movie, so that right there is a sign of how fucked-up things are.

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