Wormsign: DUNE (1984) – review

Screen adaptations, particularly those of the science-fiction variety, tend to stand on their merit. However, the recent two-part rendering of Frank Herbert’s Dune has brushed aside the unique vision brought to the screen much earlier by David Lynch. Via Vision Entertainment have rightfully countered this sentiment with a monumental Blu-ray release of the 1984 epic.

When a galactic emperor insights conflict between two rival ‘Houses’, the young son of a Duke leads an uprising among the inhabitants on a desert planet that’s callously exploited for its valuable resource.

Dune presents a universe unlike any other, and the film’s very regal introduction has an intoxicating effect on the viewer, drawing them into a narrative that marries both political and biblical themes, often under the guise of lucid madness. Further provoking curiosity is the immense level of world-building on display, from the darkened cathedral-esque home of House Atreides to the industrial hellscape of House Harkonnen, painting a clear picture of good and evil. However, the quest for dominance is dwarfed by a relatively unseen power that works as a clever allusion to the crude oil industry.

Despite all its excitement, innovation, and intrigue presented throughout the first hour, the strenuous and laboured production during Dune, becomes all too visible during most of the film’s latter half. Not only does the narrative feel rushed and undeveloped during the second act, but visual effects are increasingly diminished in quality. Fittingly, the iconic desert worms of Arrakis, seem to be the only aspect of the production immune to money shortages, as their size and scale look appropriate and impressive. It’s unfortunate the film is unable to maintain the focus and consistency of its opening, as it does hamper one’s viewing experience as the climax nears.

Kyle MacLachlan as the film’s main protagonist, Paul Atreides, is an innocent young man among gods and monsters. MacLachlan’s inexperience as an on-screen actor lends itself to the character’s fear and apprehension about what he must do. He often appears genuinely intimidated, and while many are quick to criticize his performance, I think it works.

Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy stated, and I quote, “At least once in every man’s life, he is a genius.” for Everett McGill, who plays a native warrior of Arrakis, it was his gleeful delivery of the immortal line, “Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen.” It’s a soundbite that’s often referred to as a point of odd comedy and ridicule, which I think proves just how much it sums up the off-centre tone of Dune and even more so, the style of David Lynch as a filmmaker. While I would love to mention more performances in the supporting cast, I do want to single out Kenneth McMillan, who is an absolute scene-stealer through his repulsive and bombastic display as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.


  • 1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray
  • Theatrical and Extended TV Version
  • NEW Audio Commentary on the Extended TV Version by film journalist Max Evry (2024)
  • “The Sleeper Must Awaken: Making Dune” – feature-length documentary – NEW EXTENDED VERSION (93 minutes)
  • “Beyond Imagination: Merchandising Dune” – featurette
  • “Prophecy Fulfilled: Scoring Dune” – featurette
  • “Destination Dune” – featurette
  • “Impressions of Dune” – documentary
  • “Designing Dune” – featurette
  • “Dune Models & Miniatures” – featurette
  • “Dune FX” – featurette
  • “Dune Costumes” – featurette
  • Deleted scenes with introduction by Raffaella de Laurentiis
  • Vintage interview with actor Paul Smith
  • Vintage interview with production coordinator Golda Offenheim
  • Vintage interview with make-up effects artist Christopher Tucker
  • Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots
  • Image Galleries
  • Optional English HOH Subtitles
  • Audio DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

With featurettes sourced from multiple releases spanning countries and years, Via Vision has delivered a definitive edition of Dune (for now). While many viewers may find commentary tracks unnecessary, the numerous odd choices made to lengthen scenes for Dune’s extended edition warrant one. In his new commentary, author Max Evry balances affection and criticism for this much-maligned film, and gives a lot of (often humorous) background context for added scenes.

The main attraction, supplements-wise, for this 3-disc set, is Ballyhoo’s long-awaited documentary, The Sleeper Must Awaken. Initially slated for Arrow’s 2021 4K release of Dune, the 90-minute retrospective laid dormant for English speakers until the distribution company dropped it on its streaming site early this year. Very much a COVID-era production, The Sleeper Must Awaken is primarily comprised of audio interviews with those who worked behind the scenes on Dune. The film’s more prominent stars and filmmakers, such as Sting and David Lynch can only be heard via archival soundbites. While the documentary goes into most detail in regard to Dune’s pre-production, anecdotes are nonetheless humorous and worth the watch.

Sourced from Arrow’s 2021 release are two new featurettes that go into Dune’s misguided and short-lived toy line, and the making-of Toto’s infamous score, respectively. Viewers looking for interview content from Dune’s bigger players should check out the 2003 documentary listed as “Impressions of Dune” on this release. Running for 38 minutes, the featurette includes commentary from Kyle MacLachlan, Raffaella De Laurentiis, and now-deceased cinematographer Freddie Francis. Also recommended is the short interview with Paul Smith, who regards Dune as the “best experience” he’s ever had in a movie. – by Hannah Lynch


I remember when Dune was so low on the DVD totem pole, that copies were given away for free with magazine subscriptions. In recent years, physical media has been a lot more kind to the polarizing classic with several editions from various labels now available. Via Vision has utilized one of the better 1080p presentations in 2.35:1, and now viewers can enjoy all the odd little visual details throughout the film, like that questionable rash around the mouth of Freddie Jones and Brad Dourif. Overall, the image offers well-balanced colour and deep blacks that suit the otherworldly locations.

A singular audio track in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 amplifies the film’s very immersive aesthetics along with Paul Atreides’ weaponizing of sound. Most importantly, it enhances the music by Toto, who without their effort, the audience would have never felt the rain down in Arrakis.

Dune is still available online through Vis Vision Entertainment and with only 3000 copies released, stock is obviously limited, so if you’re a fan and defender of David Lynch’s panned vision this stacked value-for-money limited edition is a great way to express it.

(1984, director: David Lynch)



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direct blu-ray screen captures



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