Dune the Nightmare

Thursday, December 31, AD 2015


Well, Clan McClarey, as is our custom, will be toasting the new year by watching Dune (1984), a film so spectacularly bad that is entertaining, a true train wreck of the filmmaking art.  Director David Lynch in the above video explains just how much a disaster the three years the film took to make became for him.  In a 1985 interview, below, he is, unsurprisingly, somewhat more circumspect, although he seems haunted by the ordeal he has just put behind him.

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13 Responses to Dune the Nightmare

  • – and yet, if I had to rewatch any of the three David Lynch movies I’ve seen (Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, and this one), it’d be Dune.

    – Am I imagining it, or did he damn Kyle MacLachlan with oblique praise? He said that they were looking for certain qualities and never found them – that statement could be the result of editing, though. He also said that everyone else on the set was impressed by him.

    – Just seeing those clips reminds me of a description of Lord Voldemort: he did great things. Terrible, but great.

  • Don’tknow too much about Dune, but we’re there two different film versions? Is this the one with Sting?

  • Yes this is the one with Sting. Sci Fi channel had a TV version mini-series in 2000.

  • “– Just seeing those clips reminds me of a description of Lord Voldemort: he did great things. Terrible, but great.”

  • John Hurt doesn’t so much steal that scene as the whole scene steals the movie, maybe the entire series of movies. Everything that happens after that point is just tying up loose ends.

  • It was atmospheric, and many individual scenes were effective. It was also ridiculously over-the-top. Who on earth thought David Lynch would be the right man to adapt someone else’s work? The Bear likes everything Lynch has done, from Straight Story to Inland Empire (Eraserhead, not so much.) But he’s got to be doing his own thing, where he can add rabbits living a dull existence in a dingy apartment if he wants to.

  • Mr. McClarey: my sister also liked the movie. Likened it to a train wreck, so bad it was good. Best wishes for the New Year.

  • Just goes to show the best doesn’t always have to be good!

  • Pinky, watch The Elephant Man. It is one of the few films in recent decades that makes use of overt Christian imagery.

  • Dune (in all of its incarnations) has long been a favorite of mine. For the David Lynch one, the Judas Booth version, which adds nearly an hour, is a personal favorite.

    Interestingly enough, the mountain ranges south of Juarez, where many of external desert scenes were filmed, look strangely familiar.

    For those who have not read any of the expanded Dune universe by Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, I highly recommend them. There is a literal ton of back story to the overall saga.

  • Any thoughts on the new SYFY miniseries of Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke? I just saw the first episode- The Overlords. Seems more timely than ever!.

  • I have seen only bits and pieces thus far, not enough to make a judgment.

The Spice and 2014 Must Flow!

Wednesday, January 1, AD 2014

Well my family and I greeted the New Year in our customary fashion by watching Dune (1984), a movie so bad that it is good!  Go here to read my analysis of why it is such a grand buzzard of the film making art.  There is always much unintended laughter by House McClarey while watching that film, and we think that laughter is always a good way to greet a new year.  Happy New Year!

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3 Responses to The Spice and 2014 Must Flow!

  • ‘Customary fashion’ was pathetically and tastelessly thwarted for some elders this year by photographic ineptitude. The ‘watching of the ball drop’ has been something to speak of to others on the first day of the year, as in whether the other stayed up to see it. I understand not the custom, but it certainly exists. So, this year the never-missed drop was not to be seen on the television mainstream networks to much disgust and dismay by a viewer I joined. The crowds and ‘entertainers’ on screen talking fast, as if on drugs, served only to add to the disgust, even with the mute button working. I felt sorry for the disappointment. No longer will I hear, “I’ve watched it every year.” Laughter being a good way to greet a new year seems like a good start. I watched the clip and thought that your family, at least, had the pleasure of listening to the spoken word done – and in the doing being led to amusement.

  • My internal monologue is saying “Ahhhh” Dune is a killing word. Killing my brain from all the internal monologue.

  • “It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.” 🙂

Happy New Year and Welcome to Arrakis!

Sunday, January 1, AD 2012

Happy New Year to all our readers.  Clan McClarey spent New Year’s Eve in our usual fashion in watching the movie Dune (1984) a movie so wretchedly bad that it is good, if watched as  an unintentional comedy!  When the film was originally released the introduction to the film consisted of the above video by Princess Irulan, portrayed by Virginia Madsen, a very minor character in the film.  When it was determined that the introduction merely confused already confused moviegoers more, at least those who had never read Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, a new introduction was made up when the film was released on television:

Upon its release the film was nearly universally panned.  David Lynch, the director, disowned the film, and adopted the pseudonym of Alan Smithee, a name traditionally adopted by directors of films that turn out so badly that the directors do not want their names attached to it.  The film earned the title of worst film of the year by film reviewers Siskel and Ebert.  Janet Maslin in the New York Times gave the film one star, and regarded it as completely incomprehensible: “Several of the characters in Dune are psychic, which puts them in the unique position of being able to understand what goes on in the movie”.

Why is Dune such a grand buzzard of a film?

1.  Confusing.  Audiences were simply asked to take in too much of an immensely complicated science fiction setting.  Now if they had simply had this catchy tune at the beginning of the film, perhaps some of the confusion could have been eliminated:

2.  Overacting.  A prime example:

3.  Sting.  Dune was the movie where Sting amply demonstrated that he could not act to save his singer soul.  His role is actually fairly minor.  But he does have a climatic fight scene where he jumps around like a deranged gerbil and comes off as silly rather than menacing:

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13 Responses to Happy New Year and Welcome to Arrakis!

  • Happy New Year Don, and all posters and commenters on TAC.

    Our year has begun as it finished – wet, cool (as in almost cold) which has dampened the ardour throughout much of the country for raging parties, outlandish behaviour, and – just as a bonus – virtually no arrests or murders throughout the country because the weather has been too bad.

    Actually, the weather has been shocking for a month or so – we had a warm Spring which promised much, but then the La Nina side of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation{of the Pacific}) – which brings low pressure – kicked in. We had a series of fronts come up from the Southern Ocean sveral weeks ago, and a couple of weeks before Christmas a tropical cyclone from the Coral Sea headed SE, brought minor flooding to Queensland and NSW, then packed itself in the Northern Tasman, joined the cold fronts coming up from down south, and has given us a few weeks of dirty, cold weather, bringing serious flooding to Northalnd, the northern region of the South Island and c entral North Island.

    So much for AGW. The met. office is predicting a warmer and drier summer than usual – I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Can’t really complain though, I reckon we’re not as cold here as some of you guys up in the northern US and Canada are right now 🙂

    God bless all.

  • Water… millions of decaliters of water!

  • Actually, Lynch didn’t disavow the original, only the extended TV version.

    And Dune is about as good a translation to cinema as could be expected from Herbert’s crypto-totalitarian pseudoi-mystical epic.

  • Happy New Year Don. The weather in Central Illinois has been drier and warmer than usual. However today it is pretty cold, which is typical for Illinois in January, although we often have a thaw toward the end of the month.

  • You are correct OCB as to Lynch only using Smithee in regard to the extended version.

    I actually think the Dune miniseries which appeared on Sci Fi in 2000 is superior:


  • I enjoy Dune too in all its silliness. Back in school it was my go to sick movie. Whenever I had a cold and was bleary with fever and cold medicine, I’d pop in Dune. It makes more sense that way. I read a few of the Dune books, and I really wish I hadn’t. There’s just enough in them to make me think they could be good if only the author’s philosophy made more sense. Or if he stopped taking himself so seriously! Happy New Year from Arrakas.

  • “There’s just enough in them to make me think they could be good if only the author’s philosophy made more sense. Or if he stopped taking himself so seriously!”

    How true Mrs. Z. The novels grew more philosophy ridden and unreadable as they went on. The first three aren’t that bad, but the last three are putrid. Herbert’s son Brian and Kevin Anderson have written an additional 13 (!) novels in the series, none of which I have bothered to read.

  • I agree, Don. I gave up after number 4, with the giant worm hybrid emperor. They began to read like someone put words from major world philosophies and religions into a random word generator to spit out “deep” sentences.

    Since you seem to like the science fiction/fantasy books and movies, any recommendations? I can’t seem to find anything I like as much as C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. Maybe the bar is too high.

  • 1. The Incomplete Enchanter Series by the late L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt.


    2. The Honor Harrington series by David Weber.


    3. The Legion of Videssos series by Harry Turtledove.

    4. The Kris Longknife series.


    5. The CoDominium series by Jerry Pournelle

    6. The Hammer’s Slammers stories by David Drake (Fairly gritty and somewhat depressing)

    7. Anything by the late Poul Anderson. (Personal favorites are the High Crusade and the Nicholas Van Rijn stories.)

    8. The Starfire Series by David Weber and Steve White:

    9. The Retief series by the late Keith Laumer. (Howlingly funny and politically pointed.)

    10. A Canticle for Leibowitz by the late Walter Millis. (Ignore the truly dreadful sequel.)

    11. The Childe Cycle by the late Gordon R. Dickson.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): 12. Most things by Elizabeth Moon, esp. her fantasy novels, and especially “The Deed of Paksennarion” trilogy (which has additional related books, both from a while back and quite recent).

  • Patricia C Wrede’s “Enchanted Forest Chronicles” are very good. (Dealing With Dragons is #1, if you’d like to check it out.)

  • The movie WAS pretty darn awful, although I have a soft spot in my heart for it.. mostly because the cast was ridiculously awesome. Von Sydow, Prochnow, Jones, Jordan, Hunt, Stewart, Annis, Phillips, Ferrer, Dourif.. I mean.. WOW.

    Too bad a good cast can’t rescue a dismal screenplay.