10 Terms from Twin Peaks, Explained


“I’ll see you again in 25 years,” Laura Palmer tells Agent Dale Cooper in the last episode of David Lynch’s surreal series. While that may or may not happen, the 25th anniversary of Twin Peaks’ premiere is upon us, so why not pour yourself a cup of coffee and revisit these 10 damn fine terms?


Blue Rose cases are strange and unsolved, sort of like the X-files. While the term isn’t used in the television show, it appears in the movie prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me: “Not only has Agent Chester Desmond disappeared,” Cooper says to “Diane," “but this is one of Cole's Blue Rose cases.” Blue Rose cases may be so named because they, like blue roses, are odd and unnatural.

2. BOB

BOB, also known as Killer BOB, is an evil spirit that possesses people and turns them into homicidal maniacs. BOB has an ex-partner named MIKE, also known as the One-Armed Man. BOB and MIKE have the same names as teenage partners-in-crime Bobby and Mike, although the connection seems to go no further than that.


The Bookhouse Boys are a do-good secret society. Members include the town sheriff and deputy, as well as Cooper as an honorary member. The group is named for their meeting place, the Bookhouse—a bar that’s full of books.


“Mike, can you hear me?” says Killer BOB. “Catch you... with my death bag!”

As with many things David Lynch, a death bag sounds pretty scary, although it’s not clear what it is. BOB could simply be speaking metaphorically, or he could be referring to a body bag. (A suicide bag, by the way, is what's used in assisted suicide.)

BOB’s death bag is not to be confused with the smiling bag the Giant tells Cooper about, which refers to a body bag hanging on the hospital wall in the shape of a smile.


Twin Peaks is an apt name for a place full of doubles. Borrowed from German, the word doppelganger refers to the apparition of a living person, an evil twin, a regular twin, or a monster that takes the form of someone it's killed. When possessed by Killer BOB, Leland and Cooper become, in a way, their own evil twins. Laura Palmer is her own doppelganger, living a double life of the squeaky clean homecoming queen and a drug-addicted prostitute. Laura also has an actual double: her cousin Maddy Ferguson, played by the same actress. Moments before Maddy arrives, we see the opening credits of the show within a show, Invitation of Love, which stars "Selena Swift" as a set of twins, Emerald and Jade.


“Where does creamed corn figure into the workings of the universe?” asks the Log Lady. “What really is creamed corn? Is it a symbol for something else?” We're guessing yes.

When Donna brings a Meals on Wheels delivery to an elderly lady, the lady says, “Do you see creamed corn on that plate? … I requested no creamed corn.” When she asks again if Donna sees creamed corn, the corn has disappeared. The old woman’s creepy grandson (played by Lynch’s look-alike son, a miniature doppelganger if you ever saw one) is holding the corn, which promptly disappears again.

In Fire Walk with Me, the creamed corn is called garmonbozia, which is defined as pain and sorrow, and which Killer BOB, MIKE, and other evil entities need to survive. The origin of the word garmonbozia is unclear; it's probably a nonsense word although it sounds a bit like garbanzo, otherwise known as the chick pea.

Without the context of the movie, creamed corn might act as a MacGuffin, a film device “used to catch the audience's attention and maintain suspense, but whose exact nature has fairly little influence over the storyline.” Or maybe Lynch just really hates creamed corn.


The Log Lady is the town weirdo-slash-psychic who carries around a clairvoyant log. In Twin Peaks, wood seems to be a conductor of spirits. Josie Packard’s soul gets trapped in a wooden drawer knob (you heard us), and a ring of 12 sycamore trees leads into the Red Room of Cooper's dream.


While his moniker is widely accepted, no one on the show ever seems to actually call him the Man from Another Place. Cooper calls him “a midget in a red suit” and “the little man.” In Fire Walk with Me, the Man calls himself the Arm, referring to the arm that MIKE cut off.

Former FBI agent Windom Earle describes “a place of great goodness” (the White Lodge), and also “another place, its opposite, of almost unimaginable power, chock full of dark forces and vicious secrets” (emphasis mine). This other place is known as the Black Lodge, the residence of the crimson-suited little man.


MIKE, Killer BOB's ex-partner, cut off his left arm to rid himself of the devil's touch as symbolized by the tattoo, "Fire Walk With Me." His doppelganger is Phillip Michael Gerard, a one-armed shoe salesman with a suitcase full of right shoes.

MIKE, through Gerard, seems to want to help Cooper. Like MIKE, Gerard has a best friend named Bob, and while this Bob isn't Killer BOB's double, he indirectly leads Cooper to one of Laura's killers.


Also known as the Waiting Room, the Red Room is a kind of limbo between the Black and White Lodges, and where Cooper encounters the Man from Another Place, Twin Peaks residents' cloudy-eyed doppelgangers, and other eerie figures.

In the Red Room, everyone except Cooper engages in reverse-speak and reverse movement. This was achieved by filming the actors speaking and moving backwards, and playing the film in reverse. The effect is incredibly creepy (and was memorably parodied in The Simpsons). Reverse-speak shouldn't be confused with reverse speech, a pseudoscience which claims that subconscious messages can be found in people’s recorded speech when played backwards.

BOB, by the way, is the same backwards or forwards. Why is this creepy? We’re not sure, but it is.

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
15 Must-See Holiday Horror Movies
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Families often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in repeat viewings of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Elf. But for a certain section of the population, the yuletide is all about horror. Although it didn’t truly emerge until the mid-1970s, “holiday horror” is a thriving subgenre that often combines comedy to tell stories of demented Saint Nicks and lethal gingerbread men. If you’ve never seen Santa slash someone, here are 15 movies to get you started.


Most holiday horror movies concern Christmas, so ThanksKilling is a bit of an anomaly. Another reason it’s an anomaly? It opens in 1621, with an axe-wielding turkey murdering a topless pilgrim woman. The movie continues on to the present-day, where a group of college friends are terrorized by that same demon bird during Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty schlocky, but if Turkey Day-themed terror is your bag, make sure to check out the sequel: ThanksKilling 3. (No one really knows what happened to ThanksKilling 2.)


Fittingly, the same man who brought us A Christmas Story also brought us its twisted cousin. Before Bob Clark co-wrote and directed the 1983 saga of Ralphie Parker, he helmed Black Christmas. It concerns a group of sorority sisters who are systematically picked off by a man who keeps making threatening phone calls to their house. Oh, and it all happens during the holidays. Black Christmas is often considered the godfather of holiday horror, but it was also pretty early on the slasher scene, too. It opened the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beat Halloween by a full four years.


This movie isn’t about Santa Claus himself going berserk and slaughtering a bunch of people. But it is about a troubled teen who does just that in a Santa suit. Billy Chapman starts Silent Night, Deadly Night as a happy little kid, only to witness a man dressed as St. Nick murder his parents in cold blood. Years later, after he has grown up and gotten a job at a toy store, he conducts a killing spree in his own red-and-white suit. The PTA and plenty of critics condemned the film for demonizing a kiddie icon, but it turned into a bona fide franchise with four sequels and a 2012 remake.


This Finnish flick dismantles Santa lore in truly bizarre fashion, and it’s not easy to explain in a quick plot summary. But Rare Exports involves a small community living at the base of Korvatunturi mountain, a major excavation project, a bunch of dead reindeer, and a creepy old naked dude who may or may not be Santa Claus. Thanks to its snowy backdrop, the movie scored some comparisons to The Thing, but the hero here isn’t some Kurt Russell clone with equally feathered hair. It’s a bunch of earnest kids and their skeptical dads, who all want to survive the holidays in one piece.


To All a Goodnight follows a by-now familiar recipe: Add a bunch of young women to one psycho dressed as Santa Claus and you get a healthy dose of murder and this 1980 slasher flick. Only this one takes place at a finishing school. So it’s fancier.

6. KRAMPUS (2015)

Although many Americans are blissfully unaware of him, Krampus has terrorized German-speaking kids for centuries. According to folklore, he’s a yuletide demon who punishes naughty children. (He’s also part-goat.) That’s some solid horror movie material, so naturally Krampus earned his own feature film. In the movie, he’s summoned because a large suburban family loses its Christmas cheer. That family has an Austrian grandma who had encounters with Krampus as a kid, so he returns to punish her descendants. He also animates one truly awful Jack-in-the-Box.


“Eat me, you punk b*tch!” That’s one of the many corny catchphrases spouted by the Gingerdead Man, an evil cookie possessed by the spirit of a convicted killer (played by Gary Busey). The lesson here, obviously, is to never bake.

8. JACK FROST (1997)

No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton snowman movie. It’s actually a holiday horror movie that beat that family film by a year. In this version, Jack Frost is a serial killer on death row who escapes prison and then, through a freak accident, becomes a snowman. He embarks on a murder spree that’s often played for laughs—for instance, the cops threaten him with hairdryers. But the comedy is pretty questionable in the infamous, and quite controversial, Shannon Elizabeth shower scene.

9. ELVES (1989)

Based on the tagline—“They’re not working for Santa anymore”—you’d assume this is your standard evil elves movie. But Elves weaves Nazis, bathtub electrocutions, and a solitary, super grotesque elf into its utterly absurd plot. Watch at your own risk.

10. SINT (2010)

The Dutch have their own take on Santa, and his name is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas travels to the Netherlands via steamship each year with his racist sidekick Zwarte Piet. But otherwise, he’s pretty similar to Santa. And if Santa can be evil, so can Sinterklaas. According to the backstory in Sint (or Saint), the townspeople burned their malevolent bishop alive on December 5, 1492. But Sinterklaas returns from the grave on that date whenever there’s a full moon to continue dropping bodies. In keeping with his olden origins, he rides around on a white horse wielding a golden staff … that he can use to murder you.

11. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)

Ever wonder where Santa came from? This horror-comedy claims he comes from the worst possible person: Satan. The devil’s kid lost a bet many years ago and had to pretend to be a jolly gift-giver. But now the terms of the bet are up and he’s out to act like a true demon. That includes killing Fran Drescher and James Caan, obviously.


Another Santa slasher is on the loose in All Through the House, but the big mystery here is who it is. This villain dons a mask during his/her streak through suburbia—and, as the genre dictates, offs a bunch of promiscuous young couples along the way. The riddle is all tied up in the disappearance of a little girl, who vanished several years earlier.


Several years before Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered protests for its anti-Kringle stance, Christmas Evil put a radicalized Santa at the center of its story. The movie’s protagonist, Harry Stadling, first starts to get weird thoughts in his head as a kid when he sees “Santa” (really his dad in the costume) groping his mom. Then, he becomes unhealthily obsessed with the holiday season, deludes himself into thinking he’s Santa, and goes on a rampage. The movie is mostly notable for its superfan John Waters, who lent commentary to the DVD and gave Christmas Evil some serious cult cred.

14. SANTA CLAWS (1996)

If you thought this was the holiday version of Pet Sematary, guess again. The culprit here isn’t a demon cat in a Santa hat, but a creepy next-door neighbor. Santa Claws stars B-movie icon Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn, an actress going through a divorce right in the middle of the holidays. She needs some help caring for her two girls, so she seeks out Wayne, her neighbor who has an obsessive crush on her. He eventually snaps and dresses up as Santa Claus in a ski mask. Mayhem ensues.

15. NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980)

Because the holidays aren’t over until everyone’s sung “Auld Lang Syne,” we can’t count out New Year’s Eve horror. In New Year’s Evil, lady rocker Blaze is hosting a live NYE show. Everything is going well, until a man calls in promising to kill at midnight. The cops write it off as a prank call, but soon, Blaze’s friends start dropping like flies. Just to tie it all together, the mysterious murderer refers to himself as … “EVIL.”

The American Museum of Natural History
10 Surprising Ways Senses Shape Perception
The American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History

Every bit of information we know about the world we gathered with one of our five senses. But even with perfect pitch or 20/20 vision, our perceptions don’t always reflect an accurate picture of our surroundings. Our brain is constantly filling in gaps and taking shortcuts, which can result in some pretty wild illusions.

That’s the subject of “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience,” a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Mental Floss recently took a tour of the sensory funhouse to learn more about how the brain and the senses interact.


Woman and child looking at pictures on a wall

Under normal lighting, the walls of the first room of “Our Senses” look like abstract art. But when the lights change color, hidden illustrations are revealed. The three lights—blue, red, and green—used in the room activate the three cone cells in our eyes, and each color highlights a different set of animal illustrations, giving the viewers the impression of switching between three separate rooms while standing still.


We can “hear” many different sounds at once, but we can only listen to a couple at a time. The AMNH exhibit demonstrates this with an audio collage of competing recordings. Our ears automatically pick out noises we’re conditioned to react to, like an ambulance siren or a baby’s cry. Other sounds, like individual voices and musical instruments, require more effort to detect.


When looking at a painting, most people’s eyes are drawn to the same spots. The first things we look for in an image are human faces. So after staring at an artwork for five seconds, you may be able to say how many people are in it and what they look like, but would likely come up short when asked to list the inanimate object in the scene.


Our senses often are more suggestible than we would like. Check out the video above. After seeing the first sequence of animal drawings, do you see a rat or a man’s face in the last image? The answer is likely a rat. Now watch the next round—after being shown pictures of faces, you might see a man’s face instead even though the final image hasn’t changed.


Every cooking show you’ve watched is right—presentation really is important. One look at something can dictate your expectations for how it should taste. Researchers have found that we perceive red food and drinks to taste sweeter and green food and drinks to taste less sweet regardless of chemical composition. Even the color of the cup we drink from can influence our perception of taste.


Sight isn’t the only sense that plays a part in how we taste. According to one study, listening to crunching noises while snacking on chips makes them taste fresher. Remember that trick before tossing out a bag of stale junk food.


Have you ever been so focused on something that the world around you seemed to disappear? If you can’t recall the feeling, watch the video above. The instructions say to keep track of every time a ball is passed. If you’re totally absorbed, you may not notice anything peculiar, but watch it a second time without paying attention to anything in particular and you’ll see a person in a gorilla suit walk into the middle of the screen. The phenomenon that allows us to tune out big details like this is called selective attention. If you devote all your mental energy to one task, your brain puts up blinders that block out irrelevant information without you realizing it.


Girl standing in optical illusion room.

The most mind-bending room in the "Our Senses" exhibit is practically empty. The illusion comes from the black grid pattern painted onto the white wall in such a way that straight planes appear to curve. The shapes tell our eyes we’re walking on uneven ground while our inner ear tells us the floor is stable. It’s like getting seasick in reverse: This conflicting sensory information can make us feel dizzy and even nauseous.


If our brains didn’t know how to adjust for lighting, we’d see every shadow as part of the object it falls on. But we can recognize that the half of a street that’s covered in shade isn’t actually darker in color than the half that sits in the sun. It’s a pretty useful adaptation—except when it’s hijacked for optical illusions. Look at the image above: The squares marked A and B are actually the same shade of gray. Because the pillar appears to cast a shadow over square B, our brain assumes it’s really lighter in color than what we’re shown.


The human brain is really good at recognizing human faces—so good it can make us see things that aren’t there. This is apparent in the Einstein hollow head illusion. When looking at the mold of Albert Einstein’s face straight on, the features appear to pop out rather than sink in. Our brain knows we’re looking at something similar to a human face, and it knows what human faces are shaped like, so it automatically corrects the image that it’s given.

All images courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History unless otherwise noted.


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