By Skip McRobert
Say, please humour me for a few moments. I know the explanation for the David Lynch film Lost Highways’s plot is that the main character has psychological problems, hallucinates. I do, though, find it fascinating that if black magick principles are used you can make a solid explanation for every plot point and character motivation. Again, I’m not writing one of those articles pretending that I know more about the actual plot than do the film’s authors. I merely am saying that I find it fascinating that there can be another explanation. So, if you will humour me, and read further, I believe I can make a pretty solid explanation for an alternative plot.
This article is an informal discussion on the plot topic. So, there are no footnotes or references. I did, though, use the Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology to help flesh out some of my thoughts.
It starts like this. For me, the key to deciphering the black magick plot of Lost Highway came through making an interpretation of the film’s character The Mystery Man, played by Robert Blake. Mystery Man can be interpreted as a demon seeking to recruit the character played by Bill Pullman, Fred, wanting to turn Fred into a type of shaman.
The relationship between Mystery Man and Fred is similar to that of the relationship a demon or demons have with a shaman. There are a number of references in the movie that I believe point toward these conclusions. First, however, I’ll discuss a few points about shamanism that will give insight into Mystery Man and Fred’s relationship.
In our era’s popular religious culture some people think it is desirable to be drawn into the lifestyle of a shaman. In most native cultures, though, being called as a shaman is not seen as desirable. The experience of Siberians shamans serves as an example.
I’ve read that in Siberian nomadic tribes most individuals try to reject the calling to be a shaman. The calling as a shaman comes from evil spirits, spirits needing a human figure to work through.
The newly demon approached tribe member has seen what happens to shamans. Tribe members consider their shaman to live a life of mental illness, driven by the evil spirits. The chosen initiate usually makes every attempt to refuse to be taken over by the spirits. These attempts, though, are usually futile.
A newly demon initiated shaman’s immediate family will be emotionally devastated by the demands of the demons made on the shaman. The rest of the tribe will benefit from the shamans work. It is work, though, that most tribe members want to be done by someone other than themselves. Think of this while watching Lost Highway.
In native cultures the initiate and the rest of the tribe would recognize what was happening. What about cultures denying the existence of the shamanistic process? I believe that in every culture demons look for individuals to possess and work through. What I see in Lost Highway is an example of this recruitment done in a society not religiously sophisticated enough for the individuals to recognize what is happening.
Here are some examples from the film. For instance, when Mystery Man and Robert Loggia’s character, Mr. Eddy, are making a phone call to Balthazar Getty’s character, Pete Dayton. Mystery Man tells Pete that “In the east, in the far East…” and goes on to describe an execution technique. This reference can be seen to show Mystery Man is familiar with the Far East nomadic life. Nomadic Central Asian cultures practice shamanistic religion.
Can Mystery Man be interpreted to be a demon? Here is a definition of ‘demon’: an unclean spirit, often malevolent, a fallen angel, or a spirit of undefined type, demonstrating extra-natural abilities. Think of Mystery Man as a malevolent supernatural being recruiting an unwilling human initiate and the movie’s story gains black magick coherence.
One example of Mystery Man’s supernatural abilities could be seen when Mystery Man and Fred are killing Mr. Eddy. Mr. Eddy asks, “What do you guys want?” Mystery Man gives Mr. Eddy a small video player. In the video player we see moments from Mr. Eddy’s decadent, arrogant and evil life. How did Mystery Man record these moments? Why at the end of the videotape do we see Mystery Man and Fred moving just as they are in real movie time? One answer is that demons are said to be able to manipulate electronic/magnetic recordings.
Another telling incident is when Mystery Man says that Fred had invited him into Fred’s house; “I am not in the custom of going where I am not invited.” A tenet of demonic, supernatural accountability is that a demon can only overtly enter a person’s life unless first the person asks that specific demon, or another demon into their life.
I see two ways to explain how Fred made this invitation. One, is that Mystery Man is a succubus with Renee/Alice (Patricia Arquette’s character) as his female disguise, and Fred invited the succubus into his life. The other explanation is that Renee opened herself to control by demons. When Fred brought Renee into his life the demon Mystery Man came along.
The succubus theory works well for a number of reasons, but may have a flaw. During the party at Andy’s house Mystery Man and Renee appear on the screen almost at the same time. If we see the two characters at the same time, then they most probably can’t be two different manifestations of the same being, unless explained by bilocation.
The flashbacks shown of Renee’s past sexual behavior show she has engaged in activity ego driven to an extent that would open the door, would act as an invitation to demonic control. A demon is a being purely driven by ego, incapable of the minutest altruistic act. Human acts of extreme egotism are an act of consent toward the source of egotism, the demonic realm, and therefore an invitation for the demonic into the human’s life.
Once the lower demons are in her life by implication she has also invited in more powerful demons, such as Mystery Man.
Consider Mystery Man’s knowledge of Fred’s attitude toward video cameras. Fred tells two detectives that he doesn’t like video cameras. Fred says he likes to “remember things as I want to remember them, not as they really happened”. Toward the end of the film Mystery Man aggressively confronts Fred with a video camera. This could demonstrate Mystery Man’s knowledge of Fred’s attitude toward video cameras. How did Mystery Man acquire this knowledge? It could be through demonic supernatural knowledge.
It could also be said that the “mysterious” videos that appear on Fred’s doorsteps came from Mystery Man. One indication of this could be when in the second tape the images on the video tape jump from outside the house to inside. During this jump the tape displays a high increase in static. If the entrance into the house were done by simple burglary methods the tape would not need to have an increase in static. If, however, the being doing the videotaping physically dematerialized in order to pass into the house this would explain the increased static. Dematerialization disrupts the electric fields of beings and electric devices. A demon such as Mystery Man would be capable of dematerialization
Towards the end of the film Alice makes her statement, “You can never have me”. This could be a reference to Alice/Renee being a succubus. Or a bilocated projection; the ability of distinct personas of a person or entity to be located in more than one distinct place at a time.
In Western and Eastern magic traditions it has been determined that demons can physically and psychically combine two humans, with the consciousness of one human having dominance. In the film I believe Pete and Fred are physically and psychically combined in this manner. I will later go into more detail about implications from this combined reality. Right now I will say that if Mystery Man is a demon he would be capable of producing this combining.
As I’ve said, the action of Lost Highway could result from Mystery Man choosing to call Fred as a shamanistic initiate. This calling involves Mystery Man revealing himself to Fred and bringing Fred in on the vengeance against Mr. Eddy.
When the film opens Fred sits in his house. He is distraught, and appears to have been so for quite some time, worn down by the ordeal. Fred’s emotional state is comparable with that by native shaman initiates at the beginning of their demonic calling.
How about when after a sex scene Renee pats Fred on the back? Fred responds to the touch with a startling realization, highlighted by foreboding music. And Renee wears black nail polish; a sign of evil? Renee being a succubus or bilocated projection could explain this scene.
During the sex scene, and before the back patting a white light flash obscures the screen. This could indicate that Fred’s shamanistic senses are heightening. After the flash Renee appears more emotionally blank. A human puppet of a demon can appear this blank after a session of being used to communicate.
Shortly after the touching incident Fred looks at Renee and sees a man’s face on Renee’s body, a face we later learn to be Mystery Man’s. This is the first overt revealing of Mystery Man to Fred. This could signify the demon Mystery Man’s use of Renee.
Bilocation, the ability of distinct personas of a person to be located in more than one distinct place at a time, could explain how Mystery Man and Renee could be manifestations of the same entity. Mystery Man would be the original projecting source. Renee would be an extension of Mystery Man’s etheric energy field. The image of Renee would appear to be a separate living entity, but would in fact be more like a puppet, controlled by Mystery Man. Bilocation may apply here.
Bilocation could be a way to explain an incident during a party at Andy’s house. Mystery Man hands Fred a cell phone, and tells Fred to “call me, I’m at your house”. Fred calls, and the voice of Mystery Man answers. This dual location of Mystery Man can be explained using bilocation.
Later, Fred arrives home from Andy’s party, and sees light flashes in his house; again, a possible indication of bilocation. During bilocation projection an astral or etheric body is produced, a duplicate of the original physical body. When the astral duplicate is recalled to the original physical body the dissipation of the duplicate results in light flashes. This process could explain the flashes in Fred’s house.
In prison Fred has a premonition of the cabin scene toward the end of the film. This can be seen as evidence of the development of Fred’s shamanistic abilities.
After Fred and Pete combine in the prison we see Pete with a distended face. This could be seen as evidence of two forms having been combined. As the combining settles Pete’s outward appearance takes predominance.
There is one short scene where we see Fred rolling violently on the prison floor. The camera speed is so fast that even in slow motion it is difficult to make out Fred’s face. After watching this scene a number of times in slow motion I believe it is clear that at the beginning of the scene Fred is laying on the floor. At the end of the scene Pete is laying on the floor in place of Fred, explained through psychic and physical combining.
Earlier I mentioned that I would go into more detail about Pete and Fred’s combining. In shamanistic theory it is said that it is impossible to completely separate the two consciences. At the least, the repressed personality becomes the dominant personalities subconscious.
One character in the film states that Pete is not the same after “that night”. Sheila does this when she is confronting Pete over his infidelity. I think Sheila sensed Fred’s presence.
When Pete hears the jazz music in the garage this causes him discomfort. This is because focusing on the jazz music begins to bring Fred’s consciousness into dominance.
Renee becomes Alice through a combining of Fred and Pete’s perceptions of the world. For the dominant personality the world becomes something like a mirage. The world has a physical reality, but is altered, something like how drugs can alter the perception of reality.
Alice is drawn to Pete because she senses the presence of Fred. Alice/Renee does love Fred, she is just promiscuous.
As to why Mystery Man chooses to use Pete this could be either because Mystery Man wants to also initiate Pete, or just needs a vehicle to serve as protection and a means of vengeance for Fred. There is an indication that Pete and Mystery Man have met. When the Dayton’s talk to Pete about the night Pete appeared in the prison cell they say Pete was with a “mysterious man” who they had never seen before. I think this man was Mystery Man. Mr. Eddy values Pete as a mechanic. Therefore Pete is a vehicle for producing confrontation with Mr. Eddy.
Andy being killed begins the process of bringing Fred’s personality to dominance. This shows in Pete’s bloody nose. This is an indication that the physical/psychic separating of Fred and Pete is approaching.
When Alice disappears into the cabin this is the point where Fred is separated from Pete. I say this because the next time we see her, Renee has been separated from Alice. Alice was the product of Fred and Pete’s combined psychic personality.
Now Fred exacts his revenge on Mr. Eddy. At the Lost Highway motel we see Mr. Eddy in an illicit encounter with Renee. Fred instinctively knows how to handle Mr. Eddy because Pete’s memories linger in Fred’s subconscious.
Why did Mystery Man kill Mr. Eddy? Demons show no mercy. If a human isn’t useful to the demon, or the human’s manipulation of the demon is disrupted, the demon can retaliate. Mr. Eddy has been arrogant, hasn’t given proper homage to Mystery Man and must pay.
Mystery Man knows Mr. Eddy’s must die. He needs another human to control, and Mystery Man has decided Fred is due justice. This is not altruistic, Judeo-Christian justice. This is ego centered justice, justice without mercy, an ego exceeding their proper universal position. Mr. Eddy’s arrogance and decadence exceeded the demonic realm’s honor due him, and impinged on Fred’s ego. From the demonic realms ego centered perspective Fred deserves vengeance against Mr. Eddy.
Towards the end Fred drives, pursued by police, going through physical changes as when he combined with Pete. I think Mystery Man is combining Fred with someone else other than Pete. The authorities will stop Fred’s car, see a driver other than Fred, and be in a similar predicament as when Pete was discovered in Fred’s prison cell. The combined Fred will be set free, then at a later date Mystery Man will separate Fred from the other person. Mystery Man will then use Fred as his shaman.
I base the latter interpretation on Mystery Man’s whispering to Fred after the killing of Mr. Eddy. I think that Mystery Man was bringing Fred into his confidence. Mystery Man told Fred to go back to his house and utter into the intercom, “Dick Laurent is dead.” Mystery Man also gave Fred some of the details I have mentioned.
I also think it is not coincidental that pornography is prominent. It has been said that extreme ego centered sex produces a corruption of the soul that is food for the demonic. A demon such as Mystery Man would use this corruption to empower his ability to achieve his schemes. Mystery Man therefore has a good reason to be around people involved in pornography.
One point I haven’t discussed yet is when we see and hear early in the film that Renee has been killed, yet we see her alive at the end of the film. One possibility is that towards the end of the film Fred has traveled to the past, and encounters Renee at the Lost Highway motel before her murder. Proof of this could be that further on towards the end of the film we see Fred delivering the intercom message that Fred hears near the beginning of the film. When we heard the intercom message in the beginning of the film we also heard screeching tires, cars driving fast and police siren noise. When Fred actually delivers the message all of the noises we previously heard are matched with action. So, I believe that at the end of the film Fred has gone back in time, before Renee’s murder.
So, that’s my thoughts, for what they are worth. Black magick can make for an interesting alternative plot for Lost Highway.