Frank Herbert’s Dune is probably the best science fiction novel ever written. David Lynch is one of the most powerful and unique directors cinema has ever seen. In 1984, these 2 winning ingredients combined to produce a movie that is…well, I think “awkward” is probably the word that fits best. For all the film’s potential (this is not even mentioning the cast, a veritable Who’s Who of the top character actors of the time), it became a textbook example of a whole which is less than the sum of it’s parts.
In 2007 however, the legacy of David Lynch’s Dune was resurrected when it was combined with copious amounts of alcohol, creating the Dune Drinking Game. Just like the movie, it is not for the faint of heart. Most movie drinking games are not about winning or losing, they’re just an excuse to get smashed and watch a cheesy flick. In the Dune Drinking Game, the winner is your life experience. The loser is your liver. The winner could also be the last one standing. If you’re in any condition to hoist your mug to the Kwisatz Haderach at film’s end, you’re either a remorselesss drinking machine, or you managed to hide your first 14 beers in your wooden leg.
1 Drink every time somebody says “spice”
1 Extra Drink if they call it “the spice melange”
1 Drink every time somebody says “worm”
Those 3 simple rules lay the foundation for what can only be described as a cinematic assault on your innards. You’ll swear that Virginia Madsen is trying to give you alcohol poisoning during the opening credits- “…the spice extends life, the spice expands consciousness, the spice…”
You’ll reach a new level of disgust with Kyle MacLachlan as he drops lines like “Spice! Pure, unrefined spice!” or most memorably “The spice is the worm! The worm is the spice!” (a moment you’ll never forget if you’ve played the game honestly to that point).
Mostly, you’ll just marvel at stretches of dialogue that run like this:
Paul- Will we see a worm?
Kynes (Max Von Sydow)- Where there is spice and spice mining, there are always worms.
Paul- Is there a connection between the worms and the spice?
In addition to the basic rules, there are a number of moments which should be accompanied by “a hearty quaff of ale for betwixt spice and worm consumption”. I think Ben Franklin said that back when he used to play the game. Truly a man ahead of his time. Frankly, the movie has so many outright bizarre or awkward moments that you could drink to just about any of them as you see fit, but here’s a few of my favorites in chronological order.
1. The movie’s first line of actual dialogue is the Emperor (Jose Ferrar) telling Princess Irulan (Madsen)
“Irulan, you must leave.”
And she does, for the next two hours. She drops a line of narration or two now and again, but the next time you see her is in the movie’s closing scene. By then beer goggles have turned her from an attractive woman to near goddess status.
2.After he has a practice shield fight with Patrick Stewart, Paul faces off against the biggest gold dildo you’ve ever seen. Not only that, but distinguished actors like Stewart, Freddie Jones and Dean Stockwell look on and comment on his precise control.
3. When the Reverend Mother (Sian Phillips) comes to test Paul’s superhuman abilities , they wind up having this exchange:
Reverend Mother- “Put your hand inside the box.”
Paul- “What’s in the box?”
Clearly, the Dune Drinking Game is not above a cheap sexual innuendo or two.
4. When Baron Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan) slaps himself on the belly and flies into the air. This comes as the climactic moment of the scene where the Harkonnens discuss their plot to destroy House Atreides. You might notice that the Baron doesn’t just fly around, he also gets hosed down in grease and murders/rapes a slave. Thankfully, the last part of that happens off camera, instead you get to watch Sting contort his face to look variously shocked, horrified, disgusted, and disturbingly enough, giddy.
4a. If you’re so inclined, you could also lift your glass to Sting’s first appearance, which comes a couple minutes before the scene’s climactic belly-slap flight/oil-rape sequence . He barely has any dialogue here, but he gets to plop down in a chair and then make several different facial expressions while other people are talking or raping. Somehow, even this seems to strain the limits of his acting ability.
5. What I like to call “The Shortest Flashback In Movie History”.
This one comes right on the heels of number 4. The Atreides family is leaving their home planet to head to Dune, Paul, Duke Leto and Lady Jessica are sitting on the spaceship. The camera cuts to Jessica (Francesca Annis).
Fade to Jessica in bed with Duke Leto (Jurgen Prochnow). Jessica- “I’ll miss Caladan SO MUCH!” Fade back to Jessica on the spaceship.
The whole sequence runs about 5 seconds. Never before or since has a movie achieved this level of brevity in a flashback. It’s a baffling choice to go to the flashback, since when it happens, Jessica is standing right next to Leto, and they’re STILL ON CALADAN. She could’ve just turned her head and said it. Then again, with the costumes that Jessica wears through most of the movie, head rotation probably wasn’t an option.
6. Dr.Yueh (Dean Stockwell) the traitor shoots Duke Leto with a drugged dart and replaces his tooth with a poision gas capsule in the hopes that Leto will be able to assassinate Baron Harkonnen when the Baron comes to celebrate his victory.
Yueh- “When you see the Baron remember the Tooth!” Camera closes in on Yueh’s face.
“The tooth!”, camera closer, “The tooth!”, camera so close it’s all moustache and teeth, “THE TOOTH!”
Strangely, this is not the first time you’re treated to a serious closeup of Dean Stockwell. Earlier in the movie, there’s a scene where Jessica is staring at him, searching his face for signs of dishonesty, and the camera gives you all you can handle of his forehead, moustache and lips. You might want to avoid watching the movie on a HI-DEF screen for these scenes alone. Seeing it on a grainy VHS is enough to drive you to drinking, in it’s full digitally restored glory, I imagine it’s probably enough to drive you to sickness.
7. Paul and Jessica are in the desert, and they run into a band of Fremen led by Stilgar (Everett McGill). Stilgar is trying to indicate that Paul can have shelter with the tribe but not Jessica, but what he winds up saying is- “I will take the boy-man, UNH!”
It’s the movie’s most awkward line, which is really saying something. It’s like being the biggest asshole in New Jersey. It deserves a toast.
8. Baron Harkonnen has captured Thufir Hawat, Duke Leto’s Master of Assassins and his human computer. He and Sting pay him a visit. They tell him that they’ve given him a poison, but he can get the antidote by milking a cat. On second thought, I think this is the proverbial ‘biggest asshole in New Jersey’.
9. The movie skips a couple years forward. You can literally feel the studio chopping an hour off the movie and replacing it with Virginia Madsen narrating a 20 second synopsis of the missing material while Toto does some nonchalant guitar wanking in the background. No wonder David Lynch wanted his name taken off the finished product.
10. When Paul’s sister Alia confronts the Emperor, Reverend Mother and Baron while telepathically taunting them, the Reverend Mother turns the movie into a musical for one line and one line only.
There are a whole host more moments worth raising a toast to, like Patrick Stewart charging into battle holding a Pug, or Sting appearing from some kind of fog chamber in metal underwear, so just stick to the 3 main rules and then choose your favorites as you go. Like Paul’s journey of self-discovery, the Dune Drinking Game can be your own journey of discovery. A journey to your liver’s limits .