With the first eerie guitar picks of the Twin Peaks theme song in 1990, the mood was set for a show that would put creepy on a whole new level. After the violent murder of Laura Palmer rocked a small town in Washington, quirky Special Agent Dale Cooper entered the scene to investigate. His love of cherry pie and “Damn good coffee,” contrasted with disturbing characters like the Log Lady and grieving Leland Palmer, strange settings, and townspeople who carried secrets like bags of groceries from the Bargain Market. The audience knew right away that evil lurked. I was hooked.
The supernatural elements of Cooper’s dreams really topped off the show. Riddles in poetic prose, a giant who told him, “The owls aren’t what they seem,” and a little person who spoke in reverse kept me awake for several nights at a time. When we find out Bob is a demon who possesses humans, the killer could be anyone.
Director David Lynch used strange color combinations, sound, music and odd characters to provoke fear by presenting the audience with the unexpected and macabre. Even the most mundane moments took on a sinister quality like when Donna delivers Meals on Wheels to shut-ins. Not knowing where the killer lurked, the audience expected the murderer to spring out at anytime. Lynch didn’t rely on gore or horror in general to scare us. Rather it was tightly wound suspense of the strange scenes that kept his loyal fans glued.
I bought the soundtrack and listened to it over and over again. But it was The Diary of Laura Palmer, which revealed what the show could not. With the description of brutal torture, mutilation, and more clues about Palmer’s tormentor, I realized how dark Twin Peaks really was.
When I discovered Lynch would revive the Twin Peaks series after twenty-five years, I was more than excited. But television has changed a lot since the 90’s. Gory scenes have become mainstream and violent shows like American Horror Story have become popular. I cringe at people getting getting hacked up, preferring old-fashioned psychological tightening of nerve-endings to get my heart racing. Continue reading