David Lynch’s 1990 picture Wild at Heart divided critics at the time. Some felt it was too violent and self-consciously weird, and that the director was in danger of repeating the the directorial flourishes that made his 1986 picture Blue Velvet such a success.
I recently rewatched Wild at Heart for the first time in years the other night and found it immensely enjoyable. They’re almost too many great lines and downright peculiar acting turns, which in some ways makes it appear like a compilation of wacky cameos, some of which I’ll detail in the clips below.
For instance, Crispin Glover’s Dell, with his unhygienic approach to cockroaches and year-round Santa obsession.
Based on Barry Gifford’s lurid 1989 pulp novel Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula, the tale is a cross between The Odyssey and The Wizard of Oz, with the couple (Nic Cage and Laura Dern) fleeing the wrath of Lula’s mother and a host of homicidal oddballs.
All this before Cage’s shtick became too familiar.
A great cast also includes Diane Ladd (real life mother of Laura Dern), Willem Dafoe, Harry Dean Stanton, and Isabella Rossellini.
And the eccentric British character actor Freddie Jones in this goofy scene:
You may not be aware that Wild at Heart had a spin-0ff of sorts, 1997’s Perdita Durango. Rosie Perez played the lead role (Isabella Rossellini’s character from Wild at Heart), with James Gandolfini, Demián Bichir and Javier Bardem also in the cast. It’s not an easy watch, with rape, human sacrifice, limb dismemberment and human foetus smuggling all on the menu, some of it set to the jaunty music of Herb Alpert.
Perdita Durango was released as Dance with the Devil in the US, and was directed by Álex de la Iglesia, based on Barry Gifford’s 1992 novel 59° and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango. If you want to watch a psychotic criminal couple kidnap a random teenage couple, and plan to rape and offer them as a human sacrifice, this is for you. Lynch fans of Wild at Heart should avoid it.