Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Killer Movie Scenes ~ Lost Highway ~ The Party Scene

David Lynch's noir horror Lost Highway opens in a mysterious retro-futurist city: a doppelganger Los Angeles in a disclocated dimension of Lynch's mysterious multiverse; a milieu in which the space/time continuum has mutated into a Möbius strip.

Free-jazz saxophonist Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) and his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) have been receiving videotapes in the mail. The tapes are recordings of their house, initially filmed externally but quickly progressing to interior shots. The packages do not disclose the identity of the stalker/intruder. The Madisons' marriage is clearly in trouble, the ambience is suffocatingly tense and the sinister packages tighten the tourniquet.

A visit to a party promises, at least temporarily, to alleviate the oppressively dark and menacing mood. The promise is not fulfilled.

At the party Fred meets a nameless stranger (later referred to in the closing titles as The Mystery Man) ; a man of genuinely disquieting appearance (chalk-white countenance, ruby-red lips and shaved eyebrows: a malevolent perversion of a clown). The Mystery Man (played by Robert Blake) is a Mephistophelean harbinger of murder & metamorphosis and a manifestation of Madison's madness.

The music heard during the scene is Barry Adamson's Something Wicked This Way Comes ~ a modern, funkier, darker reworking of Classic IV/Dusty Springfield's Spooky. The music and background chatter segue to silence during Madison's encounter with the Mystery Man and, just as inexplicably, fade back in upon the latter's departure.


A swinging party is in progress at Andy's house - the man whose face we saw at the Luna Lounge with Renee. ANDY, 37 years old, a slick guy, is seen moving through the crowd, making small talk, kissing and being kissed.

The people here are wannabe players, the men mostly shady, gold-chain-wearing, slightly unsavory types; the women dressed provocatively, big hair and skin-tight dresses. Through sliding glass doors we see nude and semi-nude people cavorting in a swimming pool. Everyone has a drink in his or her hand. Renee finishes her drink and hands the empty glass to Fred who walks away with it. Andy grabs Renee, and dances with her. They laugh and talk. Renee appears to be a bit intoxicated. Fred, who appears less than thrilled with the carryings on, makes his way to the open bar where he orders two drinks. When the drinks arrive he drains one of them completely, then sets the empty glass down on the bar. Then he swallows the other drink, too, and sets down the glass.

A MYSTERY MAN, tall, well-dressed and groomed, older than Fred, approaches him.

MYSTERY MAN: We've met before, haven't we?

FRED: I don't think so. Where was it that you think we've met?

MYSTERY MAN: At your house. Don't you remember?

FRED: (surprised) No, no I don't. Are you sure?

MYSTERY MAN: Of course. In fact, I'm there right now.

FRED: (incredulous) What do you mean? You're where right now?

MYSTERY MAN: At your house.

FRED: That's absurd.
The Mystery Man reaches into his coat pocket, takes out a cellular phone and holds it out to Fred.

Fred snickers, like this is a bad joke. The Mystery Man puts the phone into Fred's hand.

MYSTERY MAN: Dial your number.
Fred hesitates, puzzled.

MYSTERY MAN: Go ahead.
Fred shrugs, laughs, dials his number. We HEAR a pick up as we stay on FRED'S FACE.

PHONE VOICE OF MYSTERY MAN: I told you I was here.
Fred, still holding the phone, stares at the man standing in front of him.

FRED: How did you do that?
The Mystery Man points to the phone.

Fred, mirthful at first, as if it is a party trick of some kind, suddenly turns serious - it's obvious he's thinking now of the videotapes. He speaks into the phone.

FRED: (angrily) How did you get into my house?

PHONE VOICE OF MYSTERY MAN: You invited me. It's not my habit to go where I'm not wanted.
Fred looks at the man in front of him, but speaks again into the phone.

FRED: Who are you?
The man laughs - identical laughs - both over the phone and in person.

PHONE VOICE OF MYSTERY MAN: Give me my phone back.
The man in front of Fred reaches out his hand for the phone. Fred hears the line go dead, and he slowly passes the phone back to the Mystery Man who takes it, folds it, and puts it in his pocket.

MYSTERY MAN: It's been a pleasure talking to you.

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