The Films of David Lynch: Wicked Game by Chris Issak

Wicked Game by Chris Isaak (1990)
Directed by: David Lynch.

Wicked Games was one of the major songs on the Wild at Heart soundtrack. The movie has an eclectic mix of music – Elvis, heavy metal, Angelo Badalamenti’s excellent, offbeat score – and Chris Isaak’s love ballad, which Lynch returns to in the film when we are alone with Sailor and Lula. Lynch also directed the music video for Isaak’s song – the second video he directed in his career. The video really isn’t all that special if I’m being honest. It cuts between shots of Isaak and his band performing the ballad – in beautiful black and white shots – and shots from the movie itself – a fairly typical approach for music videos from soundtracks. What makes it of limited interest is both the scenes that Lynch chooses for the video, and how he often manipulates the image of those scenes.

Most often in soundtrack based music videos, the selected scenes from the movie act as a “greatest hits” package – basically turning the video into a trailer for the movie. But Lynch doesn’t do that here. There is no hint of the extreme violence from the movie in the video. Lynch simply concentrates on the two lovers – in the throes of ecstasy – in the scenes he has chosen to be in the video – often fading between the scenes and Isaak’s band using the flames, seen so often in the movie. At times, Lynch manipulates the image, blurring it, stretching it, trying to heighten the erotic charge in the visuals. The song is good as well – not great by any means, it’s kind of a sickly, sweet ballad, but it works perfectly in the context of the film, and in the video as well. The video and the song are forgettable – unless you view them in conjunction with the movie itself.

As a side note, I have to admit I know next to nothing about Chris Isaak – just that two of his songs, which by themselves I’m not sure are great, are forever stuck in my head because of how great directors used them – Wicked Game by Lynch in Wild at Heart, and Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing by Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut.

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