Lovers Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicolas Cage) are separated after he is jailed for killing a man who attacked him with a knife; the assailant, Bobby Ray Lemon, was hired by Lula's mother, Marietta Fortune (Diane Ladd). Upon Sailor's release, Lula picks him up at the prison where she hands him his snakeskin jacket. They go to a hotel where she reserved a room, make love and go to see the speed metal band Powermad. At the club, Sailor gets into a fight with a man who flirts with Lula, and then leads the band in a rendition of Elvis Presley's "Love Me (Leiber/Stoller song)". Later, back in the room, after making love again, Sailor and Lula finally decide to run away to California, breaking Sailor's parole. Marietta arranges for private detective Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton)—her on-off boyfriend–to find them and bring them back. Unbeknownst to Farragut, however, Marietta also hires gangster Marcello Santos (J. E. Freeman) to track them and kill Sailor. Santos's minions capture and kill Farragut, sending Marietta into a guilt-fueled psychosis.