The short answer is no. Blue Velvet is the perfect synthesis of two of our previous rules: You have to know your liabilities and assets for an ambitious and/or difficult project, and you have to have unique imagery. Basically, Lynch knows that his subject is rather off-putting and his hero potentially unsympathetic, but he balances that out with a lot of eye-candy: not just the usual sex and violence, but vivid imagery that assists with tone and theme as well.
The list of memorable images in this movie is long:
- First and foremost, there’s the severed ear (looking like an embryo) which becomes even creepier when it’s put in a brown paper lunch bag. Any other evidence of a kidnapping wouldn’t have had as much iconic power.
- The beginning could easily have been lame. On the page, the scene could have been, “Life seems idyllic…but then a man has an aneurism, ruining everything!” but on the screen Lynch make the original the original “idyllic” shots even more disturbing than the attack. The pretty flowers have creepy beetles rooting around beneath, but we find ourselves wanting to flee the too-perfect flowers and take refuge with the beetles.
- The literal fetishization of blue velvet (Frank cuts a piece of it out of her robe and rubs it whenever she turns him on), tied into the song of the same name, makes the title memorable and creepy. The material itself has a creepy sheen to it, creating an illusion of deep, dark mystery.
- Given the villain his own nitrous tank (we never see where he has the tank on him, we just see the nose-hose) is a great creepy detail that we’d never seen before (and gives him a sense of escalating craziness even time he takes a puff).
- And I could go on and one: we haven’t even gotten to Dean Stockwell singing into the repair light, or that amazing first performance!