My Thoughts on Showtime's Twin Peaks Episode 14 - Dread Central
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My Thoughts on Showtime’s Twin Peaks Episode 14

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Holy shit… After two lackluster episodes where not a lot happened, “Twin Peaks” came roaring back this episode with so much to unravel it’s hard to know where to begin. The wealth of information dropped here is staggering, and I found myself rendered speechless on more than one occasion, dumbstruck by the revelations taking place on the screen.

Let’s try to unpack all of this because DAMN that was one hell of an episode!

This episode opened with Gordon calling the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station to see what Sheriff Truman had to offer. Here he learns about Harry and meets Frank, who tells him about the missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary that suggest there may be two Coopers. This information is hugely relevant because Albert and Tammy are discussing the first Blue Rose case, which involved a woman who supposedly killed her doppelgänger, the slain one calling herself a Blue Rose, something that is unnatural and conjured.

Diane joins the three and is asked about Cooper and Major Briggs. She’s shown the ring with the inscription “To Dougie, with love Janey-E.” Diane appears shaken as she has a half-sister in Las Vegas who is married to a Douglas Jones. Gordon calls the Las Vegas office and instructs them to round the pair up in connection with the murder of Major Briggs.

After Diane leaves, Gordon recalls a dream he had about Monica Belluci (who plays herself). He has coffee with her and her friends at a charming cafe with Cooper, whose face is obscured. Belucci tells him “We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream” before hauntingly asking, “But who is the dreamer?” She then has Gordon look over his shoulder, where he sees the scene from Fire Walk With Me when Phillip Jeffries comes into the office and calls out Cooper.

Utilizing haunting and eerie music, something about this entire sequence feels unsettling and unsafe. Even though there is now a strong connection that can see Gordon, Albert, Tammy, and Diane find Cooper, the joy of this possibility is overshadowed by the intense unease that courses throughout this sequence.

The rest of the episode takes place in Twin Peaks, where the mysteries piled up higher than perhaps ever before.

Starting with an easy event, James is shown outside of the Great Northern wearing a security guard’s uniform. He’s sitting next to his coworker Freddy, who has a very interesting tale to tell about why he wears a thick gardening glove on his right hand. Apparently, while he lived in London, he was walking down an alley when he saw a tunnel-like vortex in the air above him, much like the one Gordon saw prior to the death of Bill Hastings. When he went through, he met the giant man, who referred to himself as “The Fireman” and gave him instructions on how to obtain this glove, which gives him superhuman strength. He was also told that he could find his destiny in Twin Peaks, which is why he moved overseas.

In what might be the most terrifying scene throughout the entirety of “Twin Peaks,” and not just this revival, Sarah Palmer goes to a bar for a Bloody Mary. A local man deems it appropriate to harass her after she turns down his advances, assaulting her sexuality and making threats of physical violence. She turns to face him and literally removes her face, revealing a static cloud behind her visage wherein a hand and a mouth can be seen. She puts the face back on and suddenly lashes out, rending half of his throat. He collapses to the floor dead, blood everywhere.

Remember several episodes back when Hawk, Sheriff Truman, and Bobby found that metal tube with the messages inside? The ones that had seemingly strange instructions? This was the episode where those were followed, and the events that stemmed from that are unbelievable.

After arresting Chad at the police station, Hawk, Andy, Truman, and Briggs head into the woods and obey the instructions set forth by Major Briggs. When they get to the mysterious spot, there is fog and the sound of electricity crackling. Inside the fog is a woman, the same woman that Cooper saw fall into the universe in the third episode. She is naked and her face still has her eyes covered by flesh, random gashes present over where her eyes should be. As they see to her, a portal appears above the four of them and it sucks Andy in.

We see him in the Black Lodge, where he sits across from the giant man, who reveals his alias as “The Fireman.” Andy suddenly holds a strange object in his hand and turns his face upward after a pillar of smoke guides his gaze. In the ceiling is a dome that acts as a projection for new and old visuals, including showing Andy the strange humanoid creature from the glass box, Laura Palmer, Bob, the Woodsman (who utters his now iconic phrase “Got a light?”), his wife Lucy, and both Coopers, their images laid over each other before separating into two distinct faces. When the visions end, Andy breathes heavily before disappearing.

Back at the start of the policemen’s wooded journey, Hawk, Briggs, and Truman stand around when suddenly Andy appears carrying the woman. He explains that she is physically fine but that people want to kill her. She will be safest in their holding cells, which Truman agrees to. None of them can seem to remember what just happened.

In the holding cells, Chad is furious at his arrest and he tries to take it out by screaming at a drunk man whose face is badly beaten. This drunk man seems to be able to communicate with the strange woman’s squeaky and chirping dialect, although nothing is revealed as to what is being said.

The episode ends, as almost standard, at the Roadhouse bar, where two women are talking about Billy. Turns out one of them is the daughter of Tina and was there when he was last seen. He apparently crashed into their home, slammed his face against the kitchen counter for several seconds, before fleeing. Is this the same man in the holding cells? It’s not clear but I’m wondering if the connection is there. The musical guest is Lissie, who plays “Wild West,” and the episode is dedicated to David Bowie.


People, I write this a shaken man. David Lynch and Mark Frost have brought us yet another mind-boggling episode that pushes television to the absolute limits. This episode acts as further proof that “Twin Peaks” is a series that embraces horror but uses it in the most clever and terrifying of ways. For all my confusion and desperation for answers, I relish the slow and momentous reveals because they have that much more impact.

Hearing Diane say that Janey is her half-sister was a moment that caused my jaw to drop. Seeing Andy go from the lovable doofus we know him for to becoming the strong-willed and now monumentally vital character after his Black Lodge journey was an unexpected, yet phenomenal decision. The trip into the woods was built up as Bobby’s trek, but it was all a catalyst for Andy to undertake his own voyage.

Nothing has ever been as it seems in “Twin Peaks,” and this episode only proved that. Television has never seen such bold writing, and it certainly has never had this much faith in its audience.

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Tony Timpone’s Elegy – AFM: A November to Dismember

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It used to be that the toughest thing about visiting the global cinematic bazaar known as the American Film Market was squeezing in as many movies as humanly possible before your eyes exploded like Cameron Vale’s in Scanners. At this year’s 38th annual AFM, held November 1-8 in Santa Monica, CA, I watched 17 movies in five days. Don’t be too impressed. That’s a big drop from past years, where I’d see as many as two dozen films during that span.

This year marked my 21st AFM jaunt, and change has been in the air for some time at this industry confab. Two screening days have been shaved off the program, and theater screenings have lost the 5pm and 7pm slots. Much of the Z-grade schlock has been whittled away and there does seem to be a higher level of product on display. No longer does every other movie star Joe Estevez. Now it’s Nicolas Cage! Sales companies feverishly hawked Cage’s VOD-bound Primal, The Humanity Bureau and Looking Glass, in addition to a plethora of cute puppy and sappy Christmas cable-ready movies.

So where’s the horror, you ask? You can still discover it at AFM, but 2017 offered a disappointing allowance for the most part. To put it into perspective, the opening day of my first AFM in 1998 yielded John Carpenter’s Vampires and Spain’s Abre Los Ojos (remade as the mediocre Vanilla Sky in the US) back-to-back (not to mention The Big Lebowski from the Coen brothers). For 2017, I did not see one film as good as those (well, maybe one…). Not a total washout, mind you, as I’m sure you will add a few titles to your watch list after perusing my AFM 2017 screening report.


I Kill Giants:
A lonely teenage girl (Madison Wolfe) defends her coastal town from invading goliaths in this somber tale directed by Denmark’s Anders Walter and written by Joe Kelly from his graphic novel. Not exactly a feel-good movie, I Kill Giants deals with bullying, depression, isolation and terminal illness. It intersperses the somberness with some excellent FX scenes involving the giants, who emerge from the surf and dark woods to taunt our young heroine. Not only is I Kill Giants too downbeat for my tastes, last year’s underrated and underseen A Monster Calls covered many of the same emotional beats much more eloquently and movingly than here.

** 1/2



Errementari:
Spanish helmer Alex del la Iglesia (Day of the Beast, Witching & Bitching) produced this Terry Gilliam-esque dark fantasy, about a cursed medieval-age blacksmith and his battle of wills with a demon out to claim his soul.

Directed by Paul Urkijo Alijo, the movie is like a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life. Its climactic trip to Hell stands out as a highlight, pitchforks and all, as do the superb practical makeup FX.

***


Bad Samaritan:
A parking valet (Robert Sheehan) at a ritzy restaurant borrows the patrons’ cars to rob their homes while they’re eating in this thriller directed by Dean (Godzilla) Devlin and written by Brandon (Apt Pupil) Boyce. As he rummages through the house of the arrogant Cale (former “Doctor Who” David Tennant, cast against type and looking like a less seedy Charlie Sheen), valet Sean discovers an imprisoned woman, the waiting victim of the rich serial killer. The cops don’t believe the robber, but the bad guy catches onto him and soon begins destroying Sean’s life and those around him. Though Bad Samaritan builds some good suspense and remains moderately gripping, Devlin (late of the embarrassing Geostorm, which Irishman Sheehan also appeared in) is no Hitchcock. And at 107 minutes, the movie overstays its welcome.

** 1/2


Anna and the Apocalypse:
Christmas, teenagers, music and zombies… Anna and the Apocalypse has it all. As the snow falls and Yuletide cheer builds, a living dead outbreak hits the quaint British town of Little Haven. Can teen Anna (Intruders’ Ella Hunt) and her friends make it to their high school auditorium for presumed safety? Well, they’ll try, singing and dancing (and bashing in undead heads) along the way. OK, so the movie’s cute and a raucous scene of zombie mayhem in a bowling alley scores a strike, but the problem with Anna is the songs just aren’t that memorable. Where’s Richard O’Brien when you need him?

** 1/2


Incident in a Ghost Land:
Writer/director Pascal Laugier took our breath away with his vicious Martyrs in 2008, but 2012’s underrated The Tall Man garnered little notice. Packing a ’70s horror vibe, his latest recaptures some of Martyrs’ uncomfortable female-inflicted brutality. Two young sisters and their mom head to a remote family house, which is soon invaded by two ruthless psychos. Though the story echoes Tourist Trap and High Tension, Laugier pulls the rug out from us at a key point and takes us down an even darker path. I wish the villains had a little more depth here, but In a Ghost Land has enough shock and thrills to satisfy fright fans.

***


Cold Skin

Cold Skin:
Laugier’s fellow extreme Frenchmen, Xavier Gens, terrorized us with his Texas Chainsaw Massacre pastiche Frontier(s) in 2007 and explored postapocalyptic horror in The Divide (2011). Now he tries his hand at a Jules Verne-style creature feature. In the early 20th century, a weather observer (David Oakes) arrives for a year-long assignment at an isolated island near the Antarctic Circle where he meets the misanthropic lighthouse keeper (Ray Stevenson). A race of pale-skinned fish people dwells in the seas and raids the island at night in several bravura action set pieces, their motive unknown. The real threat here may be Stevenson, who keeps one of the creatures as a pet/sex slave. Gens plays the story like a fable, but ultimately I had a hard time warming up to Cold Skin. Where the movie succeeds is in the creature FX and photography departments.

***


Let the Corpses Tan:
French directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani won over the horror arthouse crowd with their giallo tributes Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. Their latest flashy exercise tackles the much-loved Italian Spaghetti Western genre, but relocates the story to modern day and a Mediterranean hilltop villa. A gold-robbing gang holes up in the scenic, sun-drenched location, with a woman artist and her friends get caught in the crossfire when two cops arrive. The filmmakers do a fine job of paying homage to Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone here, but we’re talking style over substance. None of the characters really pops, and the whole thing grows a little tiresome. Fans of Cattet and Forzani and arty shootouts will still dig it.

** 1/2


Downrange:
After the weekly US shooting sprees of Vegas and Texas, this was the last movie I wanted to embrace. A group of friends find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere after a sniper cripples their car. Said sniper then begins blasting away at the college kids in graphic fashion, brains splattering the asphalt in gruesome close-up. Director Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train, Versus) does some flashy camera things, but the movie is so damn mean-spirited that it just left a bad taste in my mouth. The lowdown on Downrange: the story’s not very plausible nor the characters very likable.

* 1/2


Ghost Stories:
Just when I gave up on AFM 2017, the last movie screening I attended turned out to be not only the best genre film of the market but one of the best of the year period (IFC releases Ghost Stories next April). Supernatural debunker Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman, who co-wrote and co-directed with Jeremy Dyson) examines three extreme hauntings which just might make a believer out of him. Adapting their successful London play, Nyman and Dyson riff on past British horror anthologies Dead of Night and the ’70s Amicus flicks, but with a modern sensibility. Ghost Stories achieves its scares with class and distinction, as well as terrific makeup FX and a memorable supporting turn by The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman.

This one will send you out singing too; the “Monster Mash” plays over the end credits!

*** 1/2


So even though this year’s AFM was a bust, you will likely spot me canvassing those comfy Santa Monica theaters (kudos for solid projection, luxurious seating and friendly staff at the Arclight, AMC, Broadway and Laemmle) again next fall. On the market and festival beat, hope springs eternal!

For more information on the AFM, go to www.americanfilmmarket.com.

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Class of 1999 Graduates to Blu-Ray in 2018

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Coming to blu-ray in early 2018 will be Class of 1999, which was originally released in 1990 and designed to be an unofficial sci-fi sequel to 1982’s Class of 1984, which itself received a special edition blu-ray in 2015. Confused yet?

In 1982, writer-director Mark L. Lester made Class of 1984, a slightly futuristic action thriller about teachers contending with teenage gangs in an inner-city high school. Lester would go on to grace us with Commando and Firestarter before returning to the premise in 1990 to give us the very futuristic Class of 1999. This time the action takes place near the turn of the millennium when gang violence overruns inner-city high schools to the point that the government steps in and replaces the teachers with reprogrammed military-grade battle androids. The super soldier cyborg faculty revert to their militaristic ways, naturally, and rack up quite a body count as they declare war on the student body leading to teenage gangs putting aside their difference to lead an anti-robot uprising in the halls of the school.

The time is the future, and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some schools have become “free fire zones” into which not even the police will venture. When Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell), the principal of Kennedy High School, decides to take his school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr. Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) provides “tactical education units.” These human-like androids have been programmed to teach and are supplied with weapons to handle discipline problems. These kids will get a lesson in staying alive!

Boasting a screenplay by Full Moon stalwart C. Courtney Joyner and a cast including the likes of Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, and Traci Lind; Class of 1999 and its unique Stand and Deliver meets The Warriors meets The Terminator premise has garnered a loyal cult following over the years. We won’t mention the sequel. Forget I even brought it up. Sequel? What sequel?

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced Class of 1999 will be the next title getting a blu-ray release as part of their Vestron Collector’s Series in the first semester of 2018 with a fully loaded edition guaranteed to please fans and those that have yet to be educated on this enjoyable early Ninties b-movie extravaganza.

Disc extras will include:

Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Mark L. Lester
Interviews with Director/Producer Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola
Interview with Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner
Interviews with Special Effects Creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
Interview with Director of Photography Mark Irwin
Trailer & TV Spot
Still Gallery
Video Promo
Optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles for the main feature

Class of 1999 graduates to blu-ray on January 30th.

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Buy Stuff From Eibon Press, Get More Stuff For Free

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Eibon Press have announced that they’re starting Black Friday a day early and will be running their specials for almost a week, through November 28th. This year, they’re doing something a little different, a little more interesting. Rather than reduce prices on their inventory, they’re doing a deal where depending on how much you buy from their store, you’ll get a certain amount of free swag in addition to your order.

The first tier sees anyone who makes a purchase getting two double-sided mini-posters featuring art from their upcoming Bottomfeeder and Maniac vs The New York Ripper series. The second tier sees anyone who spends at least $30 getting a free copy of their VHS Comics titles Laserblast plus the mini-posters. The final tier is for those who spend $50 and more and that will net the mini-posters, the #1 issue of Laserblast, and a free copy of Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell #2.

Lastly, five random people will receive an extra bonus gift, which they won’t reveal but promise that, “…you’ll love it!

All order cans be placed via Eibon Press.

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