As writers, David Lynch and Stephen King are very similar. To clarify, their work is similar thematically. They both write about seemingly quaint locations where the residents appear to have a perfect life. However, below the surface, these situations are riddled with evil and depravity.
For Stephen King, it was the picturesque town of Derry that proves to be the hunting ground of an ancient, primal evil. Located elsewhere in his version of America; a grand hotel stands majestically on a mountaintop. It may seem like a beautiful and serene location to the naked eye, but it is filled with the residual pain and evil from the horrors it has housed.
For David Lynch, the notion of hidden evil is more explicitly covered. Twin Peaks is a scenic mountain town, comforting in its simplicity and natural beauty. This perceived perfection is shattered though by the death of the homecoming queen. The murder reveals the darkness and malevolent forces at work.
The setting of Blue Velvet is similar. Lynch shows us an idyllic white picket fence neighbourhood. In the intro, a man is seen watering his plants in this apparently peaceful town. However, after he collapses unconscious, the camera zooms in to reveal ugliness beneath the cute exterior. The earth is dank and dark, the domain of the insects. They gnash their gnarled incisors and they look monstrous this close up.
Despite the inky blackness that Lynch takes his audience into, the movie has an almost corny happy ending. However, is it really a happy ending? Regardless of the fact that they are now living a peaceful life, it does not change what has happened to them. We now know how repulsive that pretty little town’s underbelly really is. The people involved have been mentally scarred by the criminal underworld they got mixed up in.
Blue Velvet has that feeling of dread, the notion that history will repeat itself, it will happen again. We see the same shots of neatly clipped rose bushes and grinning, law abiding citizens, but that image is tainted. We don’t buy it anymore.
Both writers place much focus on the theme of corrupting the innocent. The villainous characters corrupt young people in some way and the virtuous, try to protect them from this. In Twin Peaks, BOB corrupted Laura, he said that he wanted to become her or he would kill her. In Blue Velvet, Jeffrey’s aunt tries to keep him away from a bad part of town. He doesn’t listen and ends up in over his head with the mob.
The fraternity of subterranean darkness have heavily informed popular culture. Riverdale takes a ton of inspiration from Twin Peaks and not just its aesthetic. It too involves the murder of a popular student with everything going for them, which opens up Pandora’s box. Without the masters of the small town horror, you would not have Stranger Things, or for that matter, a lot of your favourite horror movies.