Why the Enduring Cult Appeal of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks?

The TV show lasted only two seasons. Why does it haunt us still?

If you have an urge for pie and coffee, you may be thinking a) I always have an urge for pie and/or coffee (they’re delicious), or b) Twin Peaks is in the air again.

Both are correct. It’s sort of the show’s 25th anniversary, and several events are coalescing this week. More lusted after than Laura Palmer in the Bang Bang Bar, Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery arrives on Blu-ray (Paramount, $135). The annual Twin Peaks Fest runs Friday through Sunday in North Bend. Seattle Art Museum is screening 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me on Thursday. And a freakishly obsessed local guy—I mean superfan—is reaching the end of his Kickstarter effort to buy the actual Palmer House in Everett so he can turn it into a Twin Peaks museum/B&B.

I say “sort of” the 25th anniversary because David Lynch’s bizarre, iconic TV series, set in a fictional Northwest town of 51,201 residents, debuted in 1990 and was cancelled in 1991 after only 30 episodes. It pretty much ran out of gas after ABC suits made Lynch reveal the murderer. But it was in the fictional year of 1989 that murder victim Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) whispered to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), “I?ll see you again in 25 years.”

So here we are. The fictional date of Laura’s whispered promise was March 26 (the episode date was June 10, 1991), commemorated this spring by various Twin Peaks marathons worldwide.

The box set video Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery may be the closest Lynch ever comes to revisiting Twin Peaks (something he told me in a 2007 interview that he’d never do). That the 10-disc package is not on regular-format DVD is pissing off some fans. But hey, it’s not coming out on VHS, either.

Twin Peaks’ last iteration on DVD was 2007’s “Definitive Gold Box Edition.” Well... The Entire Mystery is, uh, more definitive. It includes both seasons of the TV series, as well as the underrated and seriously fucking unsettling 1992 movie, a prequel of sorts to the TV series. Its most coveted feature: 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes from that movie.

Look for #theentiremystery on Twitter and you’ll find an endless procession of fans dropping little Log Ladies because they either want this box set or because they just got it. And amid Marvel movies and George R.R. Martin driving fans hysterical at last weekend’s massive San Diego Comic-Con, an Entire Mystery presentation featuring Kimmy Robertson (aka Lucy Moran) drew a standing-room-only crowd.

As of press time, I haven’t received a review copy. Goddamn it.

This weekend’s Twin Peaks Fest is sold out. Forget about it. Lynch filmed a good deal of Twin Peaks in North Bend. He even premiered Fire Walk With Me there in 1992. The festival began the following year, and it draws fans from around the world (for more info: twinpeaksfest.com).

With attendance capped at around 200, this is no Comic-Con. Twin Peaks Fest features trivia and costume contests, a bus tour that takes fans to filming sites, and a replica of the Black Lodge. This year’s celebrity guests include Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey), Jen Lynch (David’s daughter, who wrote the bestselling 1990 Secret Diary of Laura Palmer), Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings), James Marshall (Hurley), and Connie Woods (“The New Girl at One-Eyed Jack’s”).

“Very few shows pass the test of time like Twin Peaks,” says festival organizer Rob Lindley. “The fans are still passionate about the show. Netflix has introduced a new generation of fans.”

A superfan himself, Lindley attended the premiere of “The Missing Pieces”—the new footage in the Blu-ray set—at a Los Angeles theater. “I personally felt it was never going to happen, but it has, and it is incredible,” he says of the bonus material.

“I remember watching the final episode when it aired in ’91,” says festival volunteer Gina Ronhovde, “when Laura Palmer says, ‘I’ll see you again in 25 years,’ and feeling this supernatural sensation flood over me, like a future message from the universe. The 25th anniversary timing is poignant because of that for me personally—almost like a supernatural force predicted that even though the show wouldn’t last, its legacy would endure and everyone would reunite one day.”


MacLachlan as Agent Cooper. Kobal Collection/Lynch-Frost/Ciby 2000

Steve Lange didn’t so much hear a future message from the universe as see a listing on a website. A commenter at Welcome to Twin Peaks (welcometotwinpeaks.com) wished a fan would buy the Palmer house and turn it into a museum.

News of the Seattle fan’s Kickstarter campaign to buy the house—listed at $600,000—has now gone viral, popping up on The Huffington Post, People, and The Nerdist.

The big, white four-bedroom house was a filming location for the TV series and movie. Lange is a caterer who moonlights as an actor and director. (He also helps organize Seattle’s big Crypticon horror convention each spring.) He wants to turn the house into a shrine to the show, as well as a B&B/event space. Why?

“Basically, because I feared that no one else would,” Lange tells me. “Even though I knew it was a tremendous long shot, I felt I owed it to the show I loved so much to give it a chance. Twin Peaks had a small hand in my move to Seattle a decade ago.”

Is there enough fan support for a Twin Peaks museum? “Well, according to our pledges so far, no,” Lange admits. As of this writing, his crowd-funding attempt had only raised about $11,000 of its $600,000 goal (the campaign ends Sunday). “There is still a lot of passion for Twin Peaks,” says Lange. ‘’The continuing success of the Twin Peaks Fest is proof of that. I just think the Palmer House might be too large an endeavor to fund through crowdsourcing.”

What accounts for the lingering Twin Peaks passion, sort of a quarter-century later? There has never been a show quite like it. An excellent vehicle for harnessing Lynch’s weirdness. A soap opera with an extremely dark side. The beautiful setting in our backyard. A tantalizing mystery with a paranormal angle. Angelo Badalamenti’s hauntingly cool score. Audrey’s sweaters.

But, taking a cue from Lynch, you just don’t explain some things. Seattle Art Museum Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, seattleartmuseum.org. $6-$8. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., July 31.

markrahner.com

 
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