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…I think “awkward” is probably the word that fits best here. 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”. Ben Franklin said that back when he used to play the game. He was truly a man ahead of his time. The movie has so many over the top bizarre or awkward moments that you should drink to 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 leave she does, for almost the entire duration of the film. She drops a few lines of narration over the next couple hours, but the next time you see her is in the movie’s closing scene. If you’re playing the Dune Drinking Game straight up, there’s a pretty good chance this is the last look you’ll get at her.
2.After he has a practice shield fight with Patrick Stewart, Paul faces off solo against the biggest weaponized gold dildo you’ve ever seen. Not only that, but other distinguished gentlemen Freddie Jones and Dean Stockwell join Stewart to watch and comment on Paul’s 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 is 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 gut punch himself into the sky, he also gets hosed down in some type of grease and rapes/murders a slave. Mercifully the last part of that happens off camera, and instead you’re treated to Sting doing what he does best in this movie- look on quietly while other actors deliver dialogue.
4a. Speaking of Sting, double down and lift your glass to Sting’s first appearance, which comes at the start of the scene. Like every other time he’s on camera in this movie he doesn’t have much to say, but he gets to forcefully plop down in a chair and then make several different facial expressions while other people are talking or murdering.
5.”The Shortest Flashback In Movie History”.
This comes right on the heels of number 4. The Atreides family is packed up and ready to leave their home planet Caladan to head to Dune. Paul, Duke Leto (Jurgen Prochnow) and Lady Jessica (Francesca Annis) are sitting quietly on the spaceship. The camera focuses in on Jessica.
*dissolve to Jessica in bed with Duke Leto*
Jessica- “I’ll miss Caladan SO MUCH!”
*dissolve back to Jessica on the spaceship*
The whole sequence runs about 5 seconds. I’ve never seen this level of brevity in a flashback. It’s truly staggering. It’s hard to wrap your head around why they’d even bother with that pointless flashback because 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. The two scenarios in play are that a) a Duke/Lady sex scene got left on the cutting room floor, b) Francesca Annis’ costume for the scene didn’t allow her to rotate her neck.
6. During the Harkonnen attack on Dune, Dr. Yueh (Dean Stockwell) reveals himself to be a traitor, the Harkonnen’s man on the inside. (Yueh’s wife was taken by the Baron, he hopes to free her) He shoots Duke Leto with a drugged dart to subdue him, but replaces one of his teeth with a poison gas capsule, hoping that when the Baron comes to gloat over Leto in victory, Leto will break the capsule and kill the Baron.
Yueh tries to drill the idea into the drugged Duke’s mind.
“When you see the Baron remember the Tooth!”
Camera closes in on Yueh’s face.
Camera closer again.
Camera so close it’s all moustache and teeth
Funny enough, this is not the first time you’re treated to a serious closeup of the doctor. Earlier on, there’s a scene where Jessica is staring at him, using her highly-trained perception to search his face for signs of dishonesty while he speaks, and the camera zooms in to give you all you can handle of his forehead, moustache and lips.
7. Paul and Jessica have fled to 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. What he actually winds up saying is:
“I will take the boy-man, HUNNNNHH!”
It’s probably 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 he needs every day by milking a cat. On second thought, I think this might be 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 film 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 of other moments worth raising a toast to if you so choose, like Patrick Stewart charging into battle holding a pug under one arm, or Sting popping casually out from some kind of fog chamber in metal bikini briefs. Just stick to the 3 main rules and then choose your own 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 .