11 Fascinating Facts About Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

At the moment, everyone has Twin Peaks on the brain, thanks the recent premiere of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 18-episode revival of the cult classic mystery series on Showtime. Naturally, Twin Peaks fans everywhere have already binge-watched the original series in anticipation, but there’s one other big piece of the Twin Peaks puzzle that shouldn’t be left out: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel film directed by Lynch.

Lambasted by critics upon its release for its bleak and disorienting plot, Fire Walk With Me was for many years ignored by all but diehard fans. But critical reexaminations, deleted scenes, and a promise from Lynch himself that it’s ”very important” to the future of Twin Peaks have pushed it back into the public imagination. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, cut a slice of cherry pie, and check out these facts about the film.

1. IT HAPPENED FAST.

By the spring of 1991, Twin Peaks—which had once been a ratings juggernaut for ABC—was flagging. The resolution of the Laura Palmer mystery left the show without its most popular storyline, and various time slot shifts led to further viewership drops. The show was canceled, but co-creator Lynch did not wait long to continue the franchise. Fire Walk With Me was announced only about a month after the show ended in June 1991. Financing from French company Ciby 2000 came quickly, and by May of the following year, the film was celebrating its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

2. ONE TWIN PEAKS STAR WAS REPLACED, WHILE ANOTHER WAS LEFT OUT ENTIRELY.

Though Fire Walk With Me is primarily the story of Laura Palmer’s last week alive, Lynch had big plans for the film, and intended to bring back numerous Twin Peaks actors to reprise their roles from the show. Among the biggest names Lynch asked to return were Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna Hayward) and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne). Both actresses declined due to scheduling conflicts with other projects. Because Donna was Laura’s best friend, and therefore integral to the story, the role was recast with future The West Wing star Moira Kelly. Audrey Horne was ultimately left out of the film altogether, though Fenn recalled later that something really could have been worked out.

“I was just doing Of Mice And Men. David was mad at me. I was going to do it. I was set to do it! I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ And then they were going to have me do it in between that and whatever I was going to do next, but he wanted my hair to be cut, and there was this stupid thing where… [dismissively] Really, if they’d really wanted me, they could’ve figured it out. Not that they didn’t really want me to do it, but productions like to have you and just you, you know what I mean? The dates were completely conflicting, because I was supposed to be in Santa Ynez filming Of Mice And Men for eight weeks, so … that’s what happened."

3. KYLE MACLACHLAN WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A LARGER ROLE.

It wouldn’t feel like Twin Peaks without Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper. Cooper was the heart of the TV series, so it made sense that he would return for the film, but in July of 1991, the film was put on hold when it was announced that MacLachlan, on the hunt for new acting challenges, would not return to the role. By August of that year, MacLachlan was back on board, but Lynch and co-writer Robert Engels had to rewrite the script to reduce his role. In a 2000 Observer interview, MacLachlan explained the changes:

“Without getting too specific about it, David and Mark [Frost] were only around for the first series [of Twin Peaks],” he said. “I fought and fought to try and get them back, but … I think we all felt a little abandoned. So I was fairly resentful when the film, Fire Walk With Me, came round. I wanted to have a meaningful discussion about some of [the early] scenes, and David was unwilling to do that, so I was not in those scenes; Chris Isaak was in them, instead of me.”

Clearly there are no bad feelings, as MacLachlan has returned to the role of Dale Cooper in a big way for the revival.

4. LYNCH HELPED COMPOSE THE MUSIC, AND EVEN PLAYED ON THE SOUNDTRACK.

Lynch reunited with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti for Fire Walk With Me, and got more involved than usual in the composition. He composed lyrics to several songs for the soundtrack (including “Questions in a World of Blue,” which featured the return of Twin Peaks Roadhouse singer Julee Cruise), and music for others. One track, “A Real Indication,” features Lynch on percussion and Badalamenti himself on vocals.

5. THE FIRST CUT WAS FIVE HOURS LONG.

The journey from announcing to premiering Fire Walk With Me took less than a year, and the production process itself was equally fast. In a little more than three months, Lynch managed to shoot half a million feet of film, an amazing amount for a final picture that runs just over two hours. Why so long? Well that’s in part due to the very large number of characters (including lots of Twin Peaks regulars) in the script. The first cut of the film came in at around five hours, which meant considerable trimming before the premiere.

6. THE RING AT THE CENTER OF THE PLOT HAS A WEIRD HISTORY.


New Line Cinema

Fire Walk With Me features an intriguing new addition to Twin Peaks lore: a ring that seems to have magical properties, which passes from the murdered Teresa Banks to Laura Palmer through weird Lynchian dream logic. Its exact powers and origins are still unknown, but it’s been around for a very long time. In the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, it’s revealed that the ring has been owned by, among others, Meriwether Lewis and Richard Nixon. In one of the film’s infamous deleted scenes, it’s revealed that Agent Cooper’s girlfriend Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) was wearing the ring after escaping the Black Lodge at the end of season two of Twin Peaks, but it was later stolen from her finger by a hospital nurse.

7. THE CLIMACTIC SCENE HAS A CREEPY COINCIDENTAL CONNECTION TO A REAL MURDER.

Most of Fire Walk With Me was shot on location in Washington State, but because the film went over its allotted location shooting days, filming had to be completed in Los Angeles. The murder of Laura Palmer in a train car, originally set to be filmed in the Seattle area, was filmed on a soundstage on the last day of shooting, which also happened to be Halloween 1991. According to Frank Silva, who played the demonic Killer Bob, a real murder happened that same night near the location where the crew was originally supposed to film the scene.

"Five days after Halloween, in Seattle, they found the body of a girl off of Avenue 37 up toward the river, and the weird thing about it was that her name was Theresa Briggs," Silva told Fangoria. "Theresa Banks is the first girl who gets killed, and Bobby Briggs was one of the characters in the show. And when they did an autopsy, they discovered the murder had taken place five days earlier on Halloween night, the same night we were shooting the killing of Laura Palmer on the set in LA. It was really weird stuff. Art imitates life. Life imitates art."

8. LYNCH ORIGINALLY PLANNED TO MAKE MORE FILMS.

Though it functions largely as a Twin Peaks prequel, Fire Walk With Me also has elements of a sequel to the TV series, most notably when Annie appears in Laura’s dream (from the future, somehow transmitting into the past) to say “The good Dale is in the lodge and can’t leave. Write it in your diary.” If Laura wrote this information down, it means that someone in the future would have come across it in her diary (shredded to pieces but recovered by the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department) and known that the Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks had been replaced by a doppelgänger, as revealed to the audience in the season two finale of the series. Lynch believed that Laura did, in fact, write Annie’s message in her diary.

“I had hopes of something coming out of that,” he said,” and I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time.”

Lynch apparently planned a trilogy of Twin Peaks films, but the idea was abandoned after the poor reception to Fire Walk With Me.

9. IT WAS LITERALLY BOOED BY CRITICS.


New Line Cinema

Most filmmakers only read the prior critical reception to their films, but Lynch actually got to hear it directly from critics. After the film premiered at Cannes in May of 1992, Lynch attended a press conference, where he was met with boos and hisses. Fire Walk With Me was critically panned at the time for being bleak, confusing, and deliberately devoid of much of the offbeat humor that made Twin Peaks what it was. Lynch, used to a mixed reception, took it in stride, but the press conference was still brutal.

“It was like I was made of broken glass, you know, when I went in there,” he later said. “And it really was not fun.”

The film has enjoyed a reappraisal in recent years, though, with critics such as Calum Marsh of The Village Voice naming it “Lynch’s masterpiece."

10. IT WAS BIG IN JAPAN.

Despite an icy critical reception and relatively poor box office performance in the United States, Fire Walk With Me was embraced in at least one part of the world: Japan. The Twin Peaks TV series didn’t arrive there until the show had nearly finished its American run, and it caught on like wildfire, with fans even staging mock Laura Palmer funerals in several cities. Fire Walk With Me premiered there in May of 1992, well before it got an American release, and ran in Japanese theaters all through the summer.

11. THE DELETED SCENES WERE KEPT HIDDEN FOR YEARS.

Because Lynch shot enough footage for a five-hour version of Fire Walk With Me, significant cuts were made to get the film down to a releasable length. This left many deleted scenes on the cutting room floor that gained interest from Peaks fans in the years after the film’s release. Even as the film made its way to various DVD releases, the deleted scenes were never made available due to rights issues with the original French investors who financed the film. Demand for these scenes ultimately grew so huge that a Facebook fan petition was started in 2011, and then, in 2014, the rights issues were finally resolved. The Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery box set included the original series, Fire Walk With Me, and more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes featuring extended moments from the film and numerous Twin Peaks favorites who didn’t make the final cut. Among the familiar faces: Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), Pete Martell (Jack Nance), and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean).

Additional Sources:
Lynch on Lynch, by Chris Rodley
The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Mark Frost
The Complete Lynch, by David Hughes

Kit Harington Reveals Which Harry Potter Character He'd Want to Play in a Prequel

Kit Harington is clearly drawn to dark, brooding characters.

Winter is Coming reports that Harington, who is best known for his role as Jon Snow in the hard-hitting HBO series Game of Thrones, spoke on a panel at ACE Comic Con this past weekend. Though he was there to discuss his upcoming role as Dane Whitman, a.k.a. Black Knight, in the upcoming Marvel Studios film The Eternals, his involvement in—and love for—other franchises came up during the conversation.

The moderator of the panel surprised the audience by bringing up Harington’s love for the Harry Potter series, and, of course, asked him which Hogwarts house he aligns with. The 32-year-old actor responded, “I am a Gryffindor. I’ve thought very deeply about it.” Though Harington himself identifies with the lion-hearted, he does believe that Jon Snow would be a Hufflepuff because of his undying loyalty.

Harington was then asked which character he would want to play in a hypothetical Harry Potter prequel movie about the Marauders—a group of Gryffindors that included James Potter (Harry’s dad), Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, who attended Hogwarts a generation before Harry and his friends. And who were often at odds with Slytherin Severus Snape.

Harington's response was immediate, and enthusiastic:

Severus Snape is the most tragic, wonderful, brilliant [character] ... He’s a character you hate, and then end up loving. He’s just phenomenal. I don’t think I’m right for him, so I’ll play Sirius. But, whoever gets to play Snape, that’s a great character.”

[h/t Winter Is Coming]

Disney's 10 Scariest Movies

Lynn-Holly Johnson, Bette Davis, and Kyle Richards in The Watcher in the Woods (1980).
Lynn-Holly Johnson, Bette Davis, and Kyle Richards in The Watcher in the Woods (1980).
Walt Disney Pictures

Disney: Known for catchy songs, cute animal sidekicks, brave Princesses … and occasionally scarring children for life. A lot of Disney’s more famously upsetting moments have to do with deathBambi’s mother and Mufasa’s father, for instance—but sometimes the studio goes plain horror movie with it. As Halloween approaches, here are 10 of Disney’s scariest movies.

1. Return to Oz (1985)

Return Oz establishes its “wait, what the hell am I watching?” cred early on, when Dorothy Gale—back in Kansas following her adventures in Oz—is shipped off to the doctor for a round of electroshock therapy to cure her insomnia and “delusions.” Dorothy is saved from her One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fate and whisked off to Oz again, where she finds that the Nome King and Princess Mombi—Nicol Williamson and Jean Marsh, who also played the doctor and head nurse—have destroyed the Emerald City and turned most of its inhabitants to stone. Playing Dorothy in her first feature film role is Fairuza Balk, who would go on to star in perpetual Halloween favorite The Craft. Return to Oz is the only film directed by legendary editor Walter Murch, most famous for his work on Apocalypse Now.

2. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

The collected works of Ray Bradbury have been adapted into dozens of films, only a handful of which were written by the late author himself. The final feature film to be written by Bradbury is 1983’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which in its first act is a typical, sweet—if somewhat dark—drama about two young boys growing up in a small town in the Midwest. Then a carnival rolls into town, and things get real messed up. Running the carnival is Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce), who grants the townspeople’s wishes in ways that … well, let’s just say they’re not very nice.

3. Mr. Boogedy (1986)

“Made-for-TV ‘80s movie about a gag gift salesman and his family” doesn’t scream terror, but Mr. Boogedy defies the odds to have some legitimately creepy moments. Granted, it’s not a subtle film: a family that moves into a dilapidated mansion in a town called called Lucifer Falls shouldn’t really expect to have an easy go of things. The mansion, believe it or not, is haunted by not one but three spirits: a widow, her child, and the eponymous Mr. Boogedy, who back in Colonial times sold his soul to Satan for a cloak that gives him magical powers. It’s Mr. Boogedy’s character design that gives the movie its biggest ick factor; the film’s makeup designer, Rick Stratton, would go on to win two Emmys. Mr. Boogedy’s cloak is eventually sucked into a possessed vacuum cleaner.

4. The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

Director John Hough’s The Watcher in the Woods isn’t only scary because it gives Bette Davis and current Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star (and then-child actress) Kyle Richards a decent chunk of shared screen time. Based on a 1976 novel, the film—like Mr. Boogedy—follows a family that moves into a mysterious house haunted by some mysterious presence. In The Watcher in the Woods, that presence is thought to be Karen, the long-disappeared daughter of the house’s owner, played by a collecting-those-paychecks Davis. Spoiler alert: There are actually two presences. One is Karen. The other is an alien. The original ending of The Watcher in the Woods actually showed the alien, but the effects were so bad that the premiere audience broke out laughing, causing Hough to reshoot the climactic final scene with the aliens as a vague blur of light.

5. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Released in 1949, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is made up of two half-hour, kid-friendly literary adaptations, the first from The Wind in the Willows and the second from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Neither segment is particularly scary … up until the last few minutes of “Sleepy Hollow,” when the animators went all-out to make schoolteacher Ichabod Crane’s flight from the Headless Horseman a contender for Disney’s scariest scene. Clyde Geronimi, who with Jack Kinney directed the “Sleepy Hollow” sequence, would go on to co-direct Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and 101 Dalmatians.

6. Pinocchio (1940)

Jiminy Cricket hopping around and The Blue Fairy singing “When You Wish Upon a Star” might be the most enduring images from Disney’s second-ever animated feature, but let’s not forget that Pinocchio could be scary when it needed to be. The film’s most potent bit of nightmare fuel comes in the scene where a bunch of children are magically transformed into terrified, crying donkeys so they could be sold away as slave labor. Looks like Disney had a taste for causing childhood trauma early on.

7. “The Skeleton Dance” (1929)

Spooky and cute: Why not both? The 1929 short “The Skeleton Dance” threads the needle deftly, with its depiction of a quartet of skeletons dancing around a graveyard maintaining the goofy tone that marks most of the early Disney shorts while still providing an ample dose of the shivers. “The Skeleton Dance” was drawn by Ub Iwerks, who several years earlier had designed Mickey Mouse.

8. Fantasia (1940)

Most of the segments in Disney’s Fantasia are markedly un-creepy—unless you consider ballet-dancing hippos disturbing, which makes a fair amount of sense—but with “Night on Bald Mountain,” Disney went full dark and stormy night. Set to the title song by composer Modest Mussorgsky, the film depicts the ancient Slavic deity Chernabog (whose name means “black god) calling all sorts of assorted demonic creatures to him before being driven away by the rising of the sun. Bela Lugosi served as a live-action reference for Chernabog, spending a day at Disney Studios striking a series of ominous poses. Nothing that Lugosi provided was ultimately used, as animator Bill Tylta was unimpressed by it.

9. The Black Cauldron (1985)

The Black Cauldron was an infamous failure for Disney, earning a mere $20 million domestically against a budget that made it, at the time, "the most expensive animated feature ever made.” With the film, Disney ditched the songs and lighthearted feel that marked its animated features up to that point in favor of a darker fantasy epic; notably, The Black Cauldron was the first Disney animated feature to earn a PG rating. Though it’s notoriously regarded as a flop, there’s one area in which The Black Cauldron is quite successful: making its villain, the Horned King, absolutely terrifying. Even the way he dies is nightmare-inducing: The magical black cauldron that the Horned King hoped would give him power to take over the world with an undead army instead melts his flesh off. It’s a bit more gruesome than the typically death-by-falling most Disney villains get.

10. Hocus Pocus (1993)

Initially released in 1993 to middling box office returns (Disney made the odd choice to release this Halloween-themed movie in July), director Kenny Ortega’s Hocus Pocus has gone on to achieve cult status. Omri Katz, since retired from acting, stars as Max Dennison, who with neighbor Allison and younger sister Dani must defeat the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches who were hanged during the Salem witch trials. One of the witches was played by Sarah Jessica Parker, whose ancestor Esther Elwell was accused of being a witch in 17th-century Salem; she escaped execution when prosecution from witchcraft was done away with.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER