No one combines good ol’ fashioned Americana with sinister surrealism to quite such extraordinary effect as writer-director David Lynch. The bequiffed creator of Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks has made critics and audiences gasp and squirm with his knack for contrasting that which is as American as apple pie with that which only exists in mankind’s worst nightmares. If Lynch’s ability to shock is in a league of its own, it’s important to note that his films are so much more disturbing for taking place in a world that is palpably ours. Indeed, you can pick up a rental car and a map and explore it for yourself. Just be sure to watch out for log ladies and guys guzzling nitrous oxide with a side of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Mulholland Drive

Los Angeles, California

Plenty of films claim to expose the dark side of LA. The ‘City of Angels’ Lynch frogmarches us around is less modern metropolis and more 21st century freak show. Of the insanity on show, special mention must go to Lafayette ‘Monty’ Montgomery playing the most sinister cowboy this side of Jack Palance in Shane. As for those keen to check out the site of the car wreck that sets this cavalcade of the strange in train, you’ll have to head up to the titular boulevard of the title. Though it’s renowned for its beauty, keep in mind that Mulholland Drive is named after the man who inspired the incestuous billionaire John Huston, portrayed in that other seminal LA noir, Chinatown (1974).

Hollywood Hills (Lynn Newsome) & Mulholland Drive (Elsa López)

Blue Velvet

Wilmington, North Carolina

All-American homes with white-picket fences, severed ears scattered about without any sign of their owners… Blue Velvet might be set in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, but it takes place deep in the heart of Lynch Country. And since bucolic Wilmington hasn’t changed much over the years, you need only stroll by its well-kept lawns or pay a visit to 109 Keaton Avenue – the charming home of Kyle MacLachlan’s Jeffrey – to recapture the sublime madness portrayed in the movie. Alas, it’s now almost a decade since Dennis Hopper shuffled off this mortal coil, but as this corner of the world has stood still, so the ghost of the barking mad Frank Booth still haunts the remotest corners of Small-town USA.

White Picket Fences in American Suburbia – Jackie

Twin Peaks

Washington State, USA

Who killed Laura Palmer? We’re still not entirely sure and we’ve watched both series of the show and the big-screen prequel. Twice. However, if you’re keen to get to the bottom of the case that’s consumed people for getting on 35 years, you might find the answers you’re looking for somewhere between Snoqualmie, North Bend and Fall City. For these are the unassuming towns where Lynch shot the bulk of his televisual masterpiece. A word of warning, however – if you’re keen to pay the region a visit, be sure to go before the third series airs in 2017. Once that hits, you can bet the world and his wife will be in Washington, demanding plates of cherry pie and a damn good coffee.

Twede’s Cafe aka The Double R Diner / Welcome to Twin Peaks (Alison D)

Lost Highway

Death Valley, California

Since so many of his films bare the markings of road movies, it’s rather charming that Lynch should have filmed at one of the sub-genre’s most iconic locations. Naturally, the man responsible for Inland Empire and The Elephant Man doesn’t make conventional use of the epic setting – not for him the never-ending car chases of, say, Vanishing Point (1971). As our David’s Death Valley represents the dark heart of the United States, so it’s rather fitting that The Armagosa (the establishment which doubles as the Lost Highway Hotel) should have, among its various facilities, a resident ghost. Now what could be more ‘Lynchian’ than sharing your brunch with someone from the other side?

Armagosa Opera House (Wolfgang Moroder) / Lynchian Corridor (Mike Schmid)

The Straight Story

Clermont, Iowa

Though there’s no such thing as an atypical setting for a David Lynch film, The Straight Story is quite unlike every other movie he has made. It’s the ennobling true story of an ageing World War 2 veteran (the much-missed Richard Farnsworth) who’s determined to make things up with his estranged but deathly ill brother. To do this, he travels from Iowa to Wisconsin via the only transport available to him, his ride-on lawnmower. The Straight Story is such a delight that, come the closing credits, you’ll want to book the next available flight to the boondocks of Iowa. What awaits you is miles and miles of not much at all but, like the film, the landscape has a charm all of own.

David Lynch (jvoves) / Black Lodge (Adrian Foden)


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