The cult TV show isn’t out until 2017 – here’s the definitive guide to all things Lynchian that you need to see
In the summer of 1991, when Twin Peaks aired its season two finale, Laura Palmer arose from the dead to promise, “I’ll see you again in 25 years. Meanwhile…” And then she was cut off mid-sentence. Meanwhile what, Laura? 25 years on, we’re still clicking our fingers impatiently, as the new episodes won’t air until “early 2017” – just enough time to move to America because at the moment that’s the only way to access Showtime.
Meanwhile, you’ve rewatched Twin Peaks so much you can quote all the dialogue forwards and backwards (and not just the bits already reversed). You’re salivating over the news stories, from Laura Dern’s casting to David Lynch shooting it as one long film. And you’re still emotionally fragile from those miserable months when Lynch dropped out entirely. Here’s what else you should do: pour a damn fine cup of coffee, build your own Red Room (or shut the curtains), and enjoy this selection of Twin Peaks-related movies to ease the long, excruciating wait. It is happening again.
TWIN PEAKS: THE MISSING PIECES (1992/2014)
The Twin Peaks Blu-Ray box set from 2014 is essential, not just for stroking like a log, but for the 90 minutes of deleted scenes arranged by Lynch into a single film. Dubbed The Missing Pieces, these outtakes are mostly unearthed gems from Fire Walk With Me, concentrating less on storyline and veering towards the idiosyncrasies that sucked you into the show. This means Black Lodge footage deemed too daunting for cinemas, Bobby mistaking coke for laxatives, and – yes! – David Bowie teleporting to an Argentinian hotel. There’s also an extended cut of the “how’s Annie” cliffhanger, revealing what Agent Cooper does after smashing the mirror. As for whether Annie is OK, watch it and find out for yourself.
BOXING HELENA (1993)
This is Lynchian on a genetic level. Boxing Helena is directed by Jennifer Lynch (David’s daughter and author of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer) and stars Sherilyn Fenn as a woman kidnapped and amputated by a crazed surgeon. Wrong place, wrong time. From the opening credits, shot from the POV of a lowered coffin, Jennifer parades the surreal filmmaking chromosomes inherited from her father, culminating in two minutes of a water fountain in slo-mo. Despite the Saw-like storyline, she doesn’t aim for gore, and stirs a succession of uncomfortable confrontations into a trippy headfuck. And you can’t help but see Fenn as Audrey Horne swapping one nightmare for another.
MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE? (2010)
Lynch hasn’t made a proper full-length feature since 2005’s Inland Empire, but he did produce this Werner Herzog film with a distinct flavour of Twin Peaks: a quaint portrait of a quiet town, a detective drinking coffee at the wheel, and the discovery of a corpse, all within the first five minutes. Michael Shannon stars as the murderer who doesn’t shy from the limelight, and as with BOB in Twin Peaks, the horror is in learning the deadly killer is the ordinary dude living across the road. That said, Chloe Sevigny, playing Shannon’s boyfriend, should have had a word when he started swinging an antique sword around.
DURAN DURAN: UNSTAGED (2014)
This Duran Duran concert movie is Lynch’s most recent directorial effort, and a synth-y insight into where his mind has been recently – somewhere in the wild juxtaposition of Simon Le Bon’s pop melodies and the superimposed images obscuring the band. While the new wavers are presented in black-and-white, layered on top are colourful visual representations of the lyrics. Some are comically literal, like a spinning globe in “Planet Earth”, while others lay out his filmmaking philosophy, like the spinning hypnosis wheel of “Notorious”. Not a Duran Duran fan? Just appreciate observing a concert through Lynch’s eyes, which means hallucinating about something else entirely.
RIVER’S EDGE (1986)
Tim Hunter’s high-school melodrama can be viewed as a test-run for Twin Peaks, given how it preceded the show with the same storyline. A dead schoolgirl is discovered in the woods, leading her classmates to over-emote (Crispin Glover), under-emote (Ione Skye) and however it is you’d describe Keanu Reeves’ soapy mood swings: “You just stay around here to fuck my mother and eat her food.” For bonus Blue Velvet vibes, Dennis Hopper channels Frank Booth as a venomous loner with a gun and blow-up doll. It was surely an influence on Lynch, who brought on Hunter to direct a few episodes of Twin Peaks.
Mark Frost co-created Twin Peaks, wrote substantially more episodes than Lynch, and yet he’s often forgotten in the conversation. Whereas Lynch is a media-friendly auteur with a cult following, Frost is an unknown personality who’s easy to blame for the lulls of season two. For a dose of pure Frost, he wrote and directed Storyville, a “riveting erotic movie” (to quote the posters) about corruption, blackmail and dirty politics. Released the same month as Fire Walk With Me (made without Frost’s involvement), the knotty crime-drama strengthens the notion of Frost and Lynch as contrasting artists who, against all odds, complement the other’s style. Or just see it for James Spader sleazing it up in a Jacuzzi.
In Twin Peaks, when Harold hides Laura Palmer’s diary and the psychiatrist sobs into the necklace, the emotional attachment to a dead person’s belongings is an idea developed from Laura. In fact, a few characters are named after Otto Preminger’s noir classic, from Waldo (the pet starling that’s killed for knowing too much) to Laura Palmer herself. But the connection lies deeper in the fabric of two stories about male detectives falling in love with the murder victims they never met. In the third episode of Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper dreams of Laura kissing him on the lips, which echoes the one-way romance of Laura when Detective McPherson sleeps in Laura’s living room to bask in her ghostly presence.
JUST JIM (2015)
With its reverse-talking interludes (helpfully subtitled) and evil spirits seeping from the woods, Craig Robert’s accomplished directorial debut is akin to Twin Peaks set in Wales. There’s a playful mix of horror and slapstick, a town of memorable oddballs, and a single-shot sequence that transforms a family home into the Bang Bang Bar from Fire Walk With Me. “The house party,” he told us last year, “that’s very Lynch.” But the Submarine star also applies autobiographical pathos, while translating Lynch’s Americanisms to a tiny community this side of the Atlantic. Even in Maesycwmmer, the owls are not what they seem.
The hype over more Twin Peaks is indebted to the revival of its original cast, including Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, whose face – the sole focus of every episode’s end credits – is embedded in the memories of fans mourning a fictional character. John Carpenter surely had a hunch when casting Lee as Katrina, a prostitute-turned-vampire with a possessed snarl (remember her scream in the Red Room?) in a campy horror-comedy of good versus neck-biting evil – all you see is Laura Palmer with a bloody smile. Just as the grieving town on Twin Peaks can’t forget that face, neither can you.
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975)
A likely influence on Twin Peaks, Peter Weir’s poetic drama plays up the innocence of its schoolgirls who eventually go missing on a trip to Hanging Rock. The disappearance is unveiled in slow, dreamlike sequences, decorated with a pan flute score, which sets up the sudden shock of traumatised locals who continue their search to no avail. Network pressure meant Lynch and Frost reluctantly revealed the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer (after which the show lost momentum), but in Hanging Rock the mystery is never explained – by withholding any closure, the grief lives on, and the flashbacks add emotional resonance to a neighbourhood whose wounds will never heal.
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (2014)
“You’ve been dead for around 25 years now,” Lynch tells Leland Palmer over dinner, “and I’d like to ask how things are for you now?” It’s a question journalists would love to ask, and also part of a collection of interviews conducted by Lynch with the Palmer family, finding out what their characters have been up to during the hiatus. Mostly being dead, it turns out. More a curiosity than an essential chapter in Twins Peaks folklore, the conversations are worthwhile just for Lynch being his typically weird self, interacting with his fictional creations as if it’s just old friends catching up to swap anecdotes about the afterlife.