College student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) returns home after his father has a stroke. When he discovers a severed ear in an abandoned field, Beaumont teams up with detective’s daughter Sandy Williams (Laura Dern) to solve the mystery. They believe beautiful lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) may be connected with the case, and Beaumont finds himself becoming drawn into her dark, twisted world, where he encounters sexually depraved psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).
Lovely teen Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) is steeped in the excessive, pink-clad culture of the San Fernando Valley, complete with her narcissistic boyfriend, Tommy (Michael Bowen). At a party, however, Julie falls for an edgy Hollywood punk named Randy (Nicolas Cage), and the two begin an unlikely romance. Torn between fitting in with her superficial friends and embracing a more non-conformist lifestyle, Julie ultimately has to decide to stay with Tommy or take a risk with Randy.