Sunday, July 9, 2017

Top 5 Most Unsettling Moments from the Twin Peaks Universe

Spoiler alert for the entire Twin Peaks Universe up until episode 8 of the 3rd season.

1. Season 2 Episode 7: "Lonely Souls": Maddy's Death Scene

This happens to be the episode that was my introduction to Twin Peaks. I came upon this episode airing on Bravo during the summer of 2000. I had only heard about Twin Peaks from my parents after asking them about a parody scene from an episode of The Simpsons titled "Lisa's Sax" which has a segment about what life was like in 1990. It showed Homer drinking Crystal Pepsi and watching Twin Peaks, in which The Giant is dancing with a white horse under a stoplight hanging from a tree (sounds about right). I asked my parents what that was, and what they described to me gave me chills. It wasn't until a year or two later that I actually got to see it for myself.

The Norwegians bouncing balls in the lobby of the Great Northern while Phillip Gerard has a total meltdown is what kept me from changing the channel. I had no clue what was going on, but it was captivating. What I saw towards the end of the episode was truly chilling, and to this day fills my body with such an emotion that is hard to describe. It makes me want to cry but not out of sadness.

Below is the video clip of the scene. The episode has the white horse I was promised on The Simpsons, appearing to Sarah Palmer before she passes out. It also has The Giant, creepily repeating to Agent Cooper, "It is happening again." referring to Maddy being killed by Bob. In retrospect it's a crazy episode to begin Twin Peaks because it reveals who Laura's killing is. I wouldn't say it ruined it for me, though.

The sound editing is beyond compare for this episode. There's the sound of the needle at the end of the spinning record, and the way the screams of Maddy are slowed down and deepened to this roar that mimics Bob's deep laugh. The slow motion also creates dread like in a dream when you are running from someone and you feel like you can barely move. It was the most horrifying thing I had seen on TV. It's still up there on my list to this day.

2. Season 2 Episode 22 : "Beyond Life and Death" : The Sycamore Trees

The final two episodes of Twin Peaks were directed by David Lynch, as apposed to many of the previous episodes of season two. You can really tell. From the bank vault scene that creeps along in real time as the elderly banker shuffles, to Sarah Palmer giving a message to Agent Briggs in her demonic possessed voice, Lynch took over for a last hurrah.

The scene that really kept me from sleeping, was Agent Cooper's introduction to the Black Lodge (or Waiting Room depending on your view). Cooper has entered the red room from his dream. Then the room dims and the dreadful strobe light comes on. A singer begins to croon into an old style microphone. That singer is played by Jimmy Scott who has an unusual voice due to a condition that prevented his body to go through puberty, making his voice higher than one would expect.

At the time I saw this I was unsure of why his voice was high. I thought maybe it was actually an elderly woman dressed in a suit singing (why not?). Never the less the sound of his voice and the sorrow and foreboding in the song chilled me to the bone. Especially the line "I'll see you, and you'll see me." It's unsettling to me because it doesn't say "we'll meet" or give any other direct action of what they will do when they are together again. It leaves it ambiguous. It implies that these people will see each other and then they will both just know what's going to happen. They will just look at each other - maybe for a long and creepy amount of time, doing and saying nothing. It just makes me want to cry out of fear again.

3. Fire Walk With Me: Fat Trout Trailer Park Scene

Sometimes I feel silly with what scares me in Lynch's work. For instance, in Mulholland Drive I cannot watch the Winky's Diner scene without closing my eyes. I could go on about why that scares me to pieces, but that's for a different post all together. When I describe it to people it sounds so trivial being afraid to look at the gross homeless person behind the wall, and he/she doesn't even come around the corner fast. It's really the sound editing and the shock that something actually was there. So it shouldn't even be a shock to me in subsequent viewings since I know the outcome, but I still can't bare to see it.

Anyway, in similar fashion, in FWWM when Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley are talking with Carl Rodd, owner of the Fat Trout Trailer Park, you see the camera outside the trailer almost running toward the door. You hear that unsettling whooshing sucking sound. Then from inside the trailer you see a short, hunched over, filthy old woman with a water bottle/ice pack over her right eye. She peeks around the door frame. Chester Desmond acknowledges her, as if she's a typical person - and not a demon like I would think. Meanwhile Carl Rodd is staring at her blankly, and goes into a trance. After she leaves, backing out of the doorway and not answering Desmond's question, Carl goes on about how he's "already gone places" and doesn't want to go anywhere. No one even suggested that to him, but the presence of this woman seems to set him off. It has always upset me to see this. It's a perfect representation of the horror within the random and unknown.

A close runner-up in that segment would be when Chester Desmond returns to the trailer park to inspect the Chalfont trailer. It's crazy creepy how the lights are on in the trailer, some of the curtains are drawn so we could see someone in there if we wanted to, but no one answers the door. I kept waiting for someone to pop their head in the window when he wasn't looking. It doesn't happen but the tension is so strong. Lynch does a great job of making empty rooms sinister and charged with dread.

4. Season 3 Episode 2: "The stars turn and a time presents itself": Bill Hastings's Cell Mate

The new season has not disappointed. It may not be in the same style as the original series but I am ok with that, as I thought a lot of Twin Peaks (especially season 2) was hokey anyway. This season is Lynch full throttle, and I need him to do whatever he wants.

The first thing that truly made me go "Oh hell no" happened in episode 2 titled "The stars turn and a time presents itself." In the jail where Bill Hastings is being held after he's charged with murder, the camera pans right to view the other cell. As Bill is crying, lamenting his situation, it is brought to our attention that he is not alone. In the other cell is a man dressed in black and painted black, sitting sideways and a little tilted, his face looking up. His eyes are very wide and the white of his eyes is jarring compared to his black body. He is so still, frozen, petrified. What is he doing? He fades away - which is never fun to see. Jimmy Scott faded away at the end of his song, and The Giant faded away when he was done telling Cooper "It's happening again." So obviously it's terrible.

I'm gonna delete this image from my computer as soon as I post this.
Then we see a second later, his head fly away like a poorly rendered ghost. That shot sort of cuts the tension of seeing this gravely disturbing figure. It's one of the first scenes that reminds us this is a Lynch production so things are gonna get weird. Until then the scene that played out was more of the soap opera Lynch, filled with intentionally bad acting (just Phyllis Hastings, not Bill. Mathew Lillard was very good). Then we get that seemingly unwarranted, otherworldly visage.

5. Season 3 Episode 8: "Gotta Light": All of it, but mostly Evil Cooper's helpful woodsmen

Episode 8 blew everyone's minds. The atomic bomb scene was breathtaking. It was an obvious homage to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey between the sound track and the visuals. This moment was so monumental because it made me suspend my disbelief for a moment, and I was in awe, thinking that I bared witness to the inside of an atomic bomb blast. Of course no one can really know what that looks like, and this was just an artistic representation, but it was so well done that it sucked me in and moved me.

What really terrified me though, was the introduction to my worst nightmare from Episode 2, times eight. The man painted black, which viewers began referring to as "the woodsman" became "the woodsmen" as several of them creep out of the woods when Evil Cooper is shot by Ray. They amble about, and spread Cooper's own blood from the wound all over his face. The sounds and music are creepy. Ray has been rendered helpless and slow-mo - just like Maddy when she encounters Bob.

Then during the atomic bomb sequence we see them milling about in sped up motion (both slow motion and fast motion are scary, trust me). They're inside and outside the convenience store which seems to be in New Mexico (we see the same one later when the teens are walking in 1956 also in NM). If this is the Black Lodge I'm unsure about how it ties into what Phillip Jeffries said in FWWM, since he implies that the convenience store/Black Lodge was in Seattle, WA. I don't know the answer to this, but we are dealing with some time travel and other dimensions, so... All I know is that movements and appearance of these woodsmen is the worst thing I've seen in a while.

When the Woodsmen come down from the sky and one of them goes around town asking for "a light" and crushing heads, it's still not as scary as when they sit way too still, move too slow, or move too fast. When their movements and motions are odd, their intentions are ambiguous and therefore terrifying.

There's ten more episodes of season 3, so I might have to make another list later!

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