A Bonus Horror Scene That I Love: Conal Cochran’s Speech From Halloween III


With horrorthon coming to a close for another year, I figured why not allow Conal Cochran to get in a word or two.

This is from Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  Playing Conal Cochran, of course, is the great Dan O’Herlihy.

We hope you’ve all had a wonderful Halloween.

Film Review: Robocop 2 (dir by Irvin Kershner)


Robocop 2, the 1990 sequel to Robocop, finds Detroit on the verge of getting nuked.

No, not nuked like that! Instead, there’s a new designer drug called Nuke and it’s tearing the city apart. Of course, Detroit has problems that go beyond just the new drug. The city is almost bankrupt. OCP, under the leadership of The Old Man (Dan O’Herlihy), is still running things behind the scenes. There’s still all sorts of petty crime to deal with. To be honest, it seems like the city has gotten even more out-of-control now that Clarence Boddiker is no longer around to oversee things.

Fortunately, Robocop (Peter Weller) is still patrolling the streets! But, for how long? There are lawyers who claim that Robocop is a huge potential liability and when you consider some of the stuff that went on during the first film, it’s hard not to see their point. His ex-wife is also suing the police department, claiming that Robocop has been harassing her. Despite being a robocop, our hero is still Murphy and he’s still haunted by memories of the family he once had. Or, at least, he is for the first few minutes of the film. That storyline kind of gets abandoned, along with a lot of other storylines.

While OCP is trying to develop a second robocop, one that can be mass produced and used to replace the human police force (the majority of whom have gone out on strike), a cult leader named Cain (Tom Noonan) is attempting to take over the city’s Nuke trade. Working with Cain is the usual gang of flamboyant malcontents. His second-in-command is a sociopathic child named Hob (Gabriel Damon). Hob may be a kid but he’ll kill anyone and he’ll enjoy himself while he’s doing it.

Robocop 2 is a bit of a mess. It apparently was rushed into production after the surprise success of the first film and filming started before there was even a completed script. As a result, there are a lot of storylines and themes that are brought up and then seem to mysteriously disappear. The film duplicates Paul Verhoeven’s satirical approach to the first film’s ultra-violence but, unfortunately, it does so in the most superficial way possible. Once again, we get the cheerful and vapid news reports about impending doom and once again, the violence is completely and totally over-the-top. But none of it carries any of the bite that was present in the first film. The first film worked because director Verhoeven actually was trying to make a larger point with all of the violence and the hints of growing fascism. He was attempting to challenge the audience and to get them wonder why they found all of the terrible thing happening in Robocop to be so entertaining. The sequel was directed by Hollywood veteran Irvin Kershner who was a good, workmanlike director but who also didn’t possess Verhoeven’s subversive sensibility. Far too often, Robocop 2 just feels like it’s going through the motions.

That’s not say that Robocop 2 isn’t occasionally an effective film. Dan O’Herlihy is wonderfully amoral as the Old Man and Tom Noonan is a worthwhile villain. Though Peter Weller has said that he wasn’t happy with how the overall film turned out, he still make for a sympathetic hero and he still manages to capture Robocop’s anguish without letting us forget that the character is still essentially a machine. I’m not really a big fan of films that use evil children for cheap shocks but Gabriel Damon is frequently chilling as Hob. Detroit is such a terrible place in the Robocop films that it’s not really a surprise when an evil child pops up and start shooting people. When compared to the first film, Robocop 2 may be a disappointment but it’s hardly a disaster.

Robocop 3 on the other hand….

Film Review: Robocop (dir by Paul Verhoeven)


Last week, I watched the original Robocop (along with Robocop 2 and Robocop 3) and I have to say that the first film holds up far better than I was expecting. Made and released way back in 1987, Robocop may be one of the most prophetic films ever made.

Consider the plot:

America is torn apart by crime and a growing gap between the rich and the poor. That was probably true in 1987 and it’s certainly true in 2021.

Throughout the film, we see news reports about what’s happening in the world. The news is always grim but the reporters are always cheerful and the main message is that, no matter what’s happening, the government is not to blame and anyone who questions the wisdom of the establishment is a fool. If that’s not a perfect description of cable news and our current state-run media, I don’t know what is.

The populace is often too busy watching stupid game shows to really pay attention to what’s happening all around them. I’m writing these words on a Wednesday, which means that Game of Talents will be on Fox tonight, immediately after The Masked Singer.

Detroit, a once proud center of industry, has now turned into a dystopian Hellhole where no one feels that they’re safe. Now, I don’t live in Detroit so I don’t know how true that is but I do know that most of the recent news that I’ve heard about the city has not exactly been positive. Also, this seems like a good time to point out that, even though the film is set in Detroit, it was shot in Dallas. Though the Dallas skyline has undoubtedly changed a bit since 1987, I still recognized several buildings while watching Robocop. Seeing Reunion Tower in the background of a movie that’s supposed to be set in Detroit was interesting, though perhaps not as interesting as seeing our City Hall transformed into the headquarters of Detroit’s beleaguered police force.

OCP, a multi-national conglomerate that’s run by the amoral but occasionally charming Old Man (played by the brilliant Dan O’Herlihy), has a contract with city of Detroit to run their police department. This certainly doesn’t seem far-fetched in 2021. Considering that we now have prisons that are run by private companies and that the government has shown a willingness to work with private mercenaries overseas, it’s not a stretch to imagine a city — especially one on the verge of bankruptcy — handing over the police department to a private company.

Two OCP executives — Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) and Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) — are competing to see who can be the first to create and develop a peace-keeping robot, a machine that will replace the need to employ (and pay) human police officers. Dick Jones goes with an actual robot, which malfunctions during a boardroom demonstration and guns down another executive. (The scene where the poor exec is targeted is both terrifying and darkly humorous at the same time. Particularly disturbing is how everyone in the boardroom keeps shoving him back towards the robot in order to ensure that they won’t accidentally be in the line of fire.) Bob Morton, however, takes a mortally wounded cop named Murphy (Peter Weller) and turns him into Robocop!

Robocop turns out to be a huge success and is very popular with the media. (Anyone who doubts this would really happen has obviously never watched news coverage of a drone attack.) As you can guess, Dick is not particularly happy about getting shown up by Morton and his robocop. Dick also happens to be secretly in league with Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith), the crimelord who blew Murphy apart in the first place.

(A gangster and a businessman working together!? I doubt that was shocking even in 1987.)

Robocop claims that he’s just a machine, without a past or emotions, but he’s still haunted by random flashes of his life as Murphy. Working with Lewis (Nancy Allen), Murphy’s former partner, Robocop tracks down Boddicker and his gang. A lot of people die in outrageously violent ways. (The scene where Boddicker and his gang use a shotgun to torture Murphy is still shocking, even after all these years.) The violence is so over-the-top that it soon becomes obvious that director Paul Verhoeven is deliberately trying to get those of us watching to ask ourselves why we find films like this to be so entertaining. On the one hand, Robocop is an exciting action film with a sense of humor. On the other hand, it’s the type of subversive satire of pop and trash culture to which Verhoeven would return with Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, and Showgirls. This is the type of film that asks the audience, “What are you doing here?”

34 years after it was first made, Robocop remains a triumph. Peter Weller’s performance holds up well, as he does a great job of capturing Robocop’s anguish while, at the same time, never forgetting that the character is ultimately a machine, one that’s trapped in a sort of permanent limbo. I also really liked the performance of Miguel Ferrer, who takes a character who should be unlikable and instead makes him into a surprisingly sympathetic figure.

Of course, a film like this lives and dies on the strength of its villains and both Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith are ideally cast as Dick Jones and Clarence Boddicker. Kurtwood Smith especially took me by surprise by how believably evil and frightening he was. As a I watched the film, I realized that it was his glasses that made him so intimidating. Wearing his glasses, he looked like some sort of rogue poet, a sociopathic intellectual who had chosen to use his talents to specifically make the world into a terrible place. Boddicker’s crew was full of familiar actors like Paul McCrane, Ray Wise, and, as the always laughing Joe Cox, Jesse Goins. Interestingly enough, all of the bad guys seemed to genuinely be friends. Even though they were all willing to betray each other (“Can you fly Bobby?”), they also seemed to really enjoy each other’s company. That somehow made them even more disturbing than a group of bad guys who were only in it for the money. The villains in Robocop really do seem to savor the chance to show off just how evil they can be.

(Incidentally, for all of the Twin Peaks fans out there, this film features three members of the show’s ensemble: Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise, and Dan O’Herlihy.)

Robocop holds up well as entertainment, prophecy, and satire. Though not much was expected from it when it was first released, it became a surprise hit at the box office. Needless to say, this led to a sequel. I’ll deal with that film in about an hour.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse #6: King of the Roaring 20s: The Story of Arnold Rothstein (dir by Joseph M. Newman)


The 1961 gangster biopic, King of the Roaring ’20s: The Story of Arnold Rothstein, tells the story of two men.

David Janssen is Arnold Rothstein, the gambler-turned-millionaire crime lord who, in the early years of the 20th Century, was one of the dominant figures in American organized crime.  Though he may be best-remembered for his alleged role in fixing the 1918 World Series, Rothstein also served as a mentor to men like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel.  Rothstein was perhaps the first gangster to to treat crime like a business.

Mickey Rooney is Johnny Burke, Arnold’s best friend from childhood who grows up to be a low-level hood and notoriously unsuccessful gambler.  Whereas Arnold is intelligent, cunning, and always calm, Johnny always seems to be a desperate.  Whereas Arnold’s success is due to his ability to keep a secret, Johnny simply can’t stop talking.

Together …. THEY SOLVE CRIMES!

No, actually, they don’t.  They both commit crimes, sometimes together and sometimes apart.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Arnold turns out to be a better criminal than Johnny.  In fact, Johnny is always in over his head.  He often has to go to his friend Arnold and beg him for his help.  Johnny does this even though Arnold continually tells him, “I only care about myself and money.”

The friendship between Arnold and Johnny is at the heart of King of the Roaring 20s, though it’s not much of a heart since every conversation they have begins with Johnny begging Arnold for help and ends with Arnold declaring that he only cares about money.  At a certain point, it’s hard not to feel that Johnny is bringing a lot of this trouble on himself by consistently seeking help from someone who brags about not helping anyone.  From the minute that the film begins, Arnold Rothstein’s mantra is that he only cares about money, gambling, and winning a poker game with a royal flush.  Everything else — from his friendship to Johnny to his marriage to former showgirl Carolyn Green (Dianne Foster) to even his violent rivalry with crooked cop Phil Butler (Dan O’Herlihy) — comes second to his own greed.  The film’s portrayal of Rothstein as being a single-minded and heartless sociopath may be a convincing portrait of the type of mindset necessary to be a successful crime lord but it hardly makes for a compelling protagonist.

Oddly enough, the film leaves out a lot of the things that the real-life Arnold Rothstein was best known for.  There’s no real mention of Rothstein fixing the World Series. His mentorship to Luciano, Lansky, and Seigel is not depicted.  The fact that Rothstein was reportedly the first gangster to realize how much money could be made off of bootlegging goes unacknowledged.  By most reports, Arnold Rothstein was a flamboyant figure.  (Meyer Wolfsheim, the uncouth gangster from The Great Gatsby, was reportedly based on him.)   There’s nothing flamboyant about David Janssen’s performance in this film.  He plays Rothstein as being a tightly-wound and rather unemotional businessman.  It’s not a bad performance as much as it just doesn’t feel right for a character who, according to the film’s title, was the King of the Roaring 20s.

That said, there are still enough pleasures to be found in this film to make it worth watching.  As if to make up for Janssen’s subdued performance, everyone else in the cast attacks the scenery with gusto.  Mickey Rooney does a good job acting desperate and Dan O’Herlihy is effectively villainous as the crooked cop.  Jack Carson has a few good scenes as a corrupt political fixer and Dianne Foster does the best that she can with the somewhat thankless role of Rothstein’s wife.  The film moves quickly and, even if it’s not as violent as the typical gangster film, it does make a relevant point about how organized crime became a big business.

It’s not a great gangster film by any stretch of the imagination and the lead role is miscast but there’s still enough about this film that works to make it worth a watch for gangster movie fans.

Previous Offers You Can’t (or Can) Refuse:

  1. The Public Enemy
  2. Scarface
  3. The Purple Gang
  4. The Gang That Could’t Shoot Straight
  5. The Happening

Horror Scenes That I Love: Conal Cochran Explains Halloween in Halloween III: Season of the Witch


Tonight’s horror scene that I love is from the underrated 1982 film, Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

In this scene, Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy) explains not only the origins of Halloween but he also discusses how he’s going to make Halloween great again.  This scene is probably the best in the film and it’s almost entirely due to O’Herlihy’s wonderfully menacing performance as Conal Cochran.

“….and happy Halloween.”

 

Film Review: Invasion U.S.A. (dir by Alfred Green)


Here’s how Invasion, U.S.A. opens:

A bunch of strangers sit in a bar.  On the television, a blandly handsome anchorman delivers the news.  He talks about foreign wars.  He talks about domestic conflicts.  One of the bar patrons asks the bartender to turn off the news.  Who cares about all of that stuff?  All he wants to do is have a nice drink before heading home to his cattle ranch.  Can’t he just do that in peace?  The bartender agrees and turns off the news…

That’s a scene that gets played out a lot nowadays.  No one wants to watch the news.  Certainly not me.  I guess we all know that we should because it’s important to know what’s going on in the world and blah blah blah.  But seriously, people who spend all of their time watching the news inevitably seem to end up going insane and ruining twitter.  I’ve got no interest in doing that.

Here’s the thing, though.  Invasion U.S.A. may open with a contemporary scene but it’s hardly a contemporary movie.  Instead, it was made in 1952 and it serves as proof that we’re not the first Americans to get sick of watching the news and that our current crop of politically minded filmmakers are not the first to try to change our mind with heavy-handed propaganda.

Everyone at the bar has a complaint.  The Arizona rancher resents having to pay high taxes just to support the defense department.  The Chicago industrialist is upset that the government wants to use his factories to build weapons.  Congressman Haroway (Wade Crosby) is a drunk.  Socialite Carla Sanford (Peggie Castle) worked in a factory during World War II but she no longer follows the news.  Newscaster Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr) is a cynic.  Tim the Bartender (Tom Kennedy) is too busy selling cocktails to worry about the communists.

Only the mysterious Mr. Ohman (Dan O’Herlihy, who would later play Conal Cochran in Halloween III) seems to care.  While holding a conspicuously oversized brandy glass, Mr. Ohman explains that he’s a forecaster.  What’s a forecaster?  A forecaster is … oh wait!  There’s no time to explain it because the communists have invaded!

Everyone sits in the bar and watches as the news reports on the invasion of the U.S.A.  (Everyone except for Mr. Ohman, who has mysteriously vanished.)  In the tradition of all low-budget B-movies, the invasion is represented through stock footage.  Lots and lots of stock footage.  Planes drop bombs.  Soldiers run out of a barracks.  Cities burn.

When everyone leaves the bar, they discover that America has been crippled by people like them, people who never thought it would happen.  Some of our bar patrons die heroically.  (Not Tim the Bartender, though.  He’s still making dumb jokes and cleaning beer mugs when the bomb drops.)  Some of our patrons regret that they didn’t care enough when it would have actually made a difference.  The industrialist discovers that, because he wouldn’t let the government take over his factory, he now has to take orders from sniveling little Marxist.  The rancher discovers that taxis get really crowded when everyone’s fleeing the Russians.  And others discover that better dead than red isn’t just a catch phrase.  It’s a way of life.

Of course, there’s a twist ending.  You’ll guess it as soon as you see Mr. Ohman with that brandy glass…

Invasion U.S.A. is often cited as one of the worst films ever made but I have to admit that I absolutely love it.  I have a soft spot for heavy-handed, over the top propaganda films and they don’t get more heavy-handed than Invasion, U.S.A.  There’s not a subtle moment to be found in the entire film.  You have to love any film that features character authoritatively declaring that something will never happen mere moments before it happens.  Best of all, you’ve got Dan O’Herlihy, playing Mr. Ohman with just a hint of a knowing smile, as if he’s as amused as we are.

Politically, this film is a mixed bag for me.  The film argues that you should trust the government and basically, shut up and follow orders.  I’m a libertarian so, as you can imagine, that’s not really my thing.  At the same time, the villains were all communists and most of the communists that I’ve met in my life have been pretty obnoxious so I enjoyed the part of the film that advocated blowing them up.  The only thing this film hates more than communists is indifference.

In the end, Invasion U.S.A. is a real time capsule of a film, one that shows how different things were in the past while also reminding us that times haven’t changed that much.  Though the film’s politics may be pure 1952, its paranoia and its condemnation of apathy feels very contemporary.

(For the record, apathy is underrated.)

Seen today, what makes Invasion U.S.A. memorable is its mix of sincerity, paranoia, and Dan O’Herlihy.  Unless the communists at YouTube take down the video, you can watch it below!

 

 

All for One, Fun for All: AT SWORD’S POINT (RKO 1952)


cracked rear viewer

France in 1648 is in upheaval: Cardinal Richelieu has passed away, the Queen is ill, and evil Duc de Lavelle is plotting to usurp the crown by forcing a marriage to Princess Henriette and murder young Prince Louis. The Queen summons the only persons that can help: her trusted Musketeers! But the quartet have either grown old or died, and in their stead come their equal-to-the-task children, Cornel Wilde (D’Artagnon Jr.), Dan O’Herlihy (Aramis Jr.), Alan Hale Jr (Porthos Jr.), and – Maureen O’Hara , daughter of Athos!!

AT SWORD’S PONT isn’t a great movie, but it is a fairly entertaining one, with lots of flashing swordplay, leaping about, cliffhanging perils, and narrow escapes. It kind of plays like a Saturday matinee serial, and there’s a lot of fun to be had, with Cornel Wilde a dashing D’Artagnon Jr, O’Herlihy a competent second fiddle, and Hale doing his usual good-natured…

View original post 365 more words

A Movie A Day #326: MacArthur (1977, directed by Joseph Sargent)


The year is 1962 and Douglas MacArthur (Gregory Peck), the legendary general, visits West Point for one last time.  While he meets the graduates and gives his final speech, flashbacks show highlights from MacArthur’s long military career.  He leaves and then returns to Philippines.  He accepts the Japanese surrender and then helps Japan rebuild and recover from the devastation of the war.  He half-heartedly pursues the Presidency and, during the Korean War, gets fired by Harry Truman (Ed Flanders).

MacArthur is a stolid biopic about one America’s most famous and controversial generals.  It was produced by Frank McCarthy, a former general who knew MacArthur and who previously won an Oscar for producing Patton.  McCarthy was obviously hoping that MacArthur was do its subject what Patton did for George Patton and both films follow the same basic pattern. a warts-and-all portrait of a World War II general with all of the action centered around the performance of a bigger-than-life actor in the title role.  Though obviously made for a low budget, MacArthur is a well-made and well-acted movie but it suffers because Douglas MacArthur was just not as interesting a figure as George Patton.  Gregory Peck does a good job subtly suggesting MacArthur’s vanity along with capturing his commitment to his duty but he never gets a scene that’s comparable to George C. Scott’s opening speech in Patton.  The main problem with MacArthur, especially when compared to Patton, is that George Patton was a born warrior while Douglas MacArthur was a born administrator and it is always going to be more exciting to watch a general lead his men into battle then to watch him sign executive orders.

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: The Carey Treatment (dir by Blake Edwards)


(Lisa is currently in the process of cleaning out her DVR!  She has got over 170 movies on the DVR to watch and she’s trying to get it done before the start of the new year!  Can she get it done?  Probably not, but she’s going to try!  1972’s The Carey Treatment was recorded off of TCM on July 23rd.)

Dr. Peter Carey (James Coburn) is the epitome of 1970s cool.  He’s got hair long enough to cover the top half of ears.  He’s got a fast car.  He’s got a rebellious attitude and a girlfriend (Jennifer O’Neill) who rarely questions his decisions.  Though you don’t see it in the movie, Dr. Carey probably smokes weed when he’s back at his fashionably decorated apartment.  How do I know this?  Well, he’s played by James Coburn.  Even if some of them are nearly 50 years old, you can still get a contact high from watching any movie featuring James Coburn.

Anyway, what the Hell is The Carey Treatment about?  Dr. Carey has just recently moved to Boston, where he’s taken a job at a stodgy old hospital.  The hospital’s chief doctor, J.D. Randall (Dan O’Herlihy, of Halloween III: Season of The Witch fame), might want Dr. Carey to tone down his free-livin’, free-lovin’ California ways but no one tells Peter Carey what to do.  In fact, the entire city of Boston might be too stodgy and conventional for Dr. Carey.  You see, Dr. Carey not only heals people.  He also beats up people who try to stand in his way.  Peter Carey is a doctor who cares but he’s also a doctor who can kick ass.

And he’s going to have to kick a lot of ass because Dr. Randall’s daughter has just turned up dead.  The police say that she died as the result of a botched abortion and they’ve arrested Carey’s best friend, Dr. David Tao (James Hong).  (The Carey Treatment, it should be noted, was filmed before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion.)  The Boston establishment is determined to use Dr. Tao as a scapegoat but Dr. Carey is convinced that his friend is innocent.  In fact, he doesn’t think that the death was the result of an abortion at all.  Carey sets out to solve the case … HIS WAY!

If it seems like I’m going a little bit overboard with my emphasis on the Dr. Peter Carey character, that’s because this entire movie feels more like a pilot for a weekly Dr. Carey television series as opposed to an actual feature film.  It’s easy to image that each week, James Coburn would drive from hospital to hospital, solving medical mysteries and debating social issues with stuffy members of the Boston establishment.  Henry Mancini would provide the theme music and Don Murray would guest star as Dr. Carey’s brother, a priest who encourages the young men in his parish to burn their draft cards.

It might have eventually become an interesting TV show but it falls pretty flat as a movie.  James Coburn is in nearly every scene, which would usually be a good thing.  But in The Carey Treatment, he gives an incredibly indifferent performance.  He seems to be bored by the whole thing and, as a result, Dr. Peter Carey is less a cool rebel and more of a narcissistic jerk.  The mystery itself is handled rather haphazardly.  On the positive side, Michael Blodgett gives a wonderfully creepy performance as a duplicitous masseur but otherwise, The Carey Treatment is nothing special.

If you want to see a great James Coburn film, track down The President’s Analyst.

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.22 “Beyond Life and Death” (dir by David Lynch)


“How’s Annie?”

— Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in Twin Peaks 2.22 “Beyond Life and Death”

“The Log Lady stole my truck!”

— Pete Martell (Jack Nance), same episode

“Some of your friends are here.”

— The Man From Another Place (Michael Anderson), same episode

“I’ll see you again in 25 years.”

— Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), same episode

Here we are.

Starting exactly one month ago, we started our Twin Peaks recaps.  I handled some, Leonard handled some, and Jeff handled some.  Gary added a post on David Lynch’s first three short films.  Val shared music videos that were either inspired by Lynch or directed by Lynch himself.  Jeff devoted his Movie a Day posts to reviewing films that all had a Twin Peaks connection.  As Leonard put it on twitter, projects are fun and I know we certainly had a lot of fun putting all of this together.

But, all good things must come to an end and, at least until the third season premieres on Showtime later this month, we have reached the end of Twin Peaks.  Episode 30 brought the story to a temporary end.  (The movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, was a prequel about the last days of Laura Palmer.  It’s a haunting film and one that we’ll look at tomorrow but, at the same time, it doesn’t offer up any answers to any of the questions that the finale left hanging.)

A little history: Twin Peaks was a huge success during its first season but, during the second season, ratings plunged.  According to the book, Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks by Brad Dukes, neither David Lynch nor Mark Frost were as involved during the second season as they had been during the first.  As compared to the genuinely unsettling first season, the second season struggled to find its voice.  Was it a mystery?  Was it a broad comedy?  Was it a show about the paranormal or was it a soap opera?  It was all of that and, for many people, that was too much.  Today, of course, audiences are used to quirkiness.  They’re used to shows that straddle several different genres.  It’s no longer a revolutionary idea to be openly meta.

But in 1991, Twin Peaks was the show that ABC both didn’t know what to do with and, by the end, didn’t really want.  It was regularly moved around the schedule and, often, weeks would pass without a new episode.  Consider this: nearly two months passed between the airing of The Path to the Black Lodge and the final two episodes of the show.  (Miss Twin Peaks and Beyond Life and Death were both aired on June 10th, 1991.)

For the final episode, David Lynch returned to direct and, though hardly anyone saw it when it originally aired, it’s an episode that left such an impression that — 25 years later — Showtime agree to bring the series back.  The third season of Twin Peaks will premiere later this month but until then, let’s go ahead and recap Beyond Life and Death.

One last time, we open with Angelo Badalamenti’s beautiful theme music and those haunting shots of Twin Peaks.

We start at the sheriff’s station, with Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz) having a moment.  Lucy talks about how scared she was when the lights went out and then says she found herself wondering what would happen if they were stuck in an elevator in the hospital and she went into labor.  Andy replies that, if that happened, he would deliver the baby “in front of God and everyone.”  Awwwww!

In Harry’s office, Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Hawk (Michael Horse) stare at the cave drawing while Harry (Michael Ontkean) says that he has deputies in three counties looking for Windom Earle.  Windom appears to have vanished.  Cooper replies that the only hope they have of finding Windom and Annie is in the map.

“Fire walk with me,” Cooper says, softly, “Fire walk with me.”

Pete (Jack Nance) steps into the office and announces that the Log Lady stole his truck.  I love the way that Jack Nance delivers the line, “The Log Lady stole my truck!”  (Sadly, Nance was murdered just a few years after the end of Twin Peaks.)  Pete says that, when last seen, the Log Lady was driving into Ghostwood Forest.

“Pete,” Cooper announces, “the Log Lady did not steal your truck.  The Log Lady will be here in one minute.”

“12 rainbow trouts in the bed,” Pete says.

This triggers Harry’s memory.  He announces that there is a circle of 12 sycamores in Ghostwood Forest.  It’s called Glastonbury Grove.  Hawk says that Glastonbury Grove is where he found the pages from Laura’s diary.  Cooper suddenly says, “That’s the legendary burial place of King Arthur!  Glastonbury!”

“King Arthur is buried in England,” Pete says, dismissively, “Last I heard anyway.”

Right on time, The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) shows up at the office.

“Where’s my truck?” Pete demands.

“Pete, Windom Earle stole your truck,” Cooper says.

Pete looks very confused.  Jack Nance really acted the Hell out of this scene.  (Interestingly enough, Catherine Coulson was, in real life, Nance’s ex-wife.)

The Log Lady ignores Pete.  She has a jar of oil that she hands to Cooper.  The Log Lady says that her husband claimed that the oil was the opening to a gateway.  Everyone agrees that it smells like scorched engine oil.  Cooper has Hawk bring in Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), who says that she smelled the oil the night that she was attacked and Laura Palmer was killed.

Out in the woods, a pickup truck comes to a stop in front of Glastonbury Grove.  Inside the truck, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) forces Annie (Heather Graham) to look at the 12 rainbow trout in back.  Annie tells Windom that, if he’s going to kill her, to go ahead and get it over with.  Windom says that there is plenty of time for that but, right now, he is enjoying the fear that he is feeling.

(After being portrayed in far too cartoonish a manner over the past few episodes, Windom is finally menacing again.  For that matter, this is the first — and, as fate would have it, the only — episode where Heather Graham seems to be truly committed to her role as Annie.  This episode directly challenges anyone who thinks that David Lynch is merely a visual artist who can’t direct actors.)

As Annie recites Psalm 141, Windom drags her through the woods.  Windom shoves her into the the middle of the grove.

“I tell you, they have not died,” Windom recites, “Their hands clasp, yours and mine.”

Suddenly, in the middle of the woods, the red curtains appears.  Windom leads the now zombified Annie through them.

At the Hurley House, Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) is looking over the heavily bandaged Mike (Gary Hershberger) and Nadine (Wendy Robie).  Meanwhile, Ed (Everett McGill) is cheerfully talking to Norma (Peggy Lipton) by the fire place.  (I like the fact that, with everything that’s going on, Ed and Norma are just happy to be together.)  Just as Ed and Norma start to dance, Nadine suddenly gets her memory back and starts to shout about silent drape runners.  Nadine demands that Ed make everyone go away.

At the Hayward house, Eileen (Mary Jo Deschanel) sits in her wheelchair and stares at Ben Horne (Richard Beymer).  Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) comes walking down the stairs, carrying a suitcase.  Eileen begs Donna not to leave but Donna starts screaming about not knowing who her parents are.  Ben steps forward and apologizes.  He says he only wanted to do good.  He wanted to be good.  He says that it felt good to finally tell the truth.

Doc Hayward arrives home and is not happy to see Ben.  Ben is begging for forgiveness when, suddenly, his own wife (Jan D’Arcy) comes walking through the front door.  She demands to know what Ben is trying to do to their family.

Donna looks at Doc Hayward and starts to chant, “You’re my Daddy!  You’re my Daddy!”  Eileen looks away, which is a polite way of saying, “No, Ben’s your Daddy and you’ve got a half-sister that everyone likes more than you.”

Ben tries to apologize again and, after 29 episodes of never losing his temper, Doc Hayward finally snaps and punches Ben.  Ben falls back and hits the back of his head on the fireplace!  Oh my God!  Is Ben dead!?  Is Doc Hayward now evil!?

(I know the answer but I’m not going to tell you until the end of this review.)

At the Martell House, Andrew (Dan O’Herlihy) is all excited because he’s figured out that the key is the key to a safety deposit box.  He steals the key from the pie plate and replaces it with a duplicate.  However, Pete steps into the room just in time to see Andrew doing it.

In the woods, Cooper and Harry come across the abandoned truck.  They walk into the forest but Cooper suddenly announces that he must go alone.  Cooper takes Harry’s flashlight and walks through the forest.  Eventually, he hears the hooting of an owl and comes across Glastonbury Grove.  Cooper steps into the circle and the red curtains appear.  As Harry watches from a distance, Cooper steps though the curtains.

(Though it may just be coincidence, the red curtains always make me think about the opening of Dario Argento’s Deep Red.)

Cooper finds himself in the red curtained hallways.  He walks until he reaches the room from his dreams.  As the lights stobe, the Man From Another Place (Michael Anderson) dances while a lounge singer (Jimmy Scott) sings about Sycamore Trees.  The Man From Another Place eventually hopes into a velvet chair.  It’s deeply unsettling to watch because we know that, behind one of those curtains, BOB is lurking.

In the forest, Andy finds Harry.  They sit outside of Glastonbury Grove and wait for Cooper to return.

Morning comes.  We get a few final shots of the countryside around Twin Peaks.  The mountains.  The bridge where, 29 episodes ago, Ronette Pulaski was discovered battered and nearly catatonic.  The forest.  The countryside was beautiful when we first saw it but, after spending 31 hours in the world of Twin Peaks, it is now impossible to look at that wilderness without wondering what secrets are being concealed beneath the tranquil surface.

Harry and Andy are still sitting outside of Glastonbury and there is something truly touching about the sight of these two friends loyally waiting for their third friend to return.  Andy volunteers to go to diner to get them breakfast.  Harry says, “Yes.”  Andy lists off all of the usual Twin Peaks food.  Coffee.  Pancakes.  Desert.  “Yeah,” Harry replies.  When Andy finally asks if Harry wants pie, Harry falls silent.  How can anyone eat pie with Cooper missing?

Meanwhile, at the bank — OH MY GOD!  YOU MEAN WE’RE NOT GOING TO THE BLACK LODGE TO FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON WITH COOPER YET!? — an old lady sleeps at the new accounts desk. (It’s a very Lynchian image, to be honest.)

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) comes in and says hello the elderly bank president, Mr. Mibbler (Ed Wright).  Mibbler is really happy to see Audrey, even after she explains that she is going to be chaining herself to the vault as a part of her environmental protest.   For whatever reason, almost all of David Lynch’s film features at least one elderly character who moves slowly and is utterly clueless about the world around them.  Mr. Mibbler is certainly a part of that tradition.

(Speaking for myself, I like the way that the scene in the bank is shot and acted but it still frustrates me that, during the 2nd season, Twin Peaks could never quite figure out what to do with Audrey.  When Kyle MacLachlan vetoed any romance between Cooper and Audrey, it pretty much destroyed Audrey’s storyline.  To make us believe that Cooper and Audrey could actually fall in love with other people, the writers kept Cooper and Audrey from interacting and, as a result, it often seemed that Audrey was trapped in another, rather less interesting show.  While Cooper investigated the Black Lodge and Windom Earle, Audrey was stuck playing Civil War with her father and improbably falling in love with John Justice Wheeler.  Even in the finale, Audrey mostly serves as a distraction from the show’s main storyline.  The character deserved better.)

Andrew and Pete show up at the bank.  Mibbler is shocked to see that Andrew is still alive but Andrew is more concerned with opening up that deposit box.  It takes Mibbler a while to find the box but when he does, he promptly opens it.  What’s inside the box?  Well, there’s a note from Thomas that read, “Finally got you, Andrew.  Love, Thomas.”  And there’s a bomb, which promptly explodes.

Oh my God, is Audrey dead!?  Well, the episode never reveals who died or survived in the bank.  However, having looked through the recently published The Secret History of Twin Peaks, I know the answer and I will reveal it at the end of this review.

At the Double R, Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) and Betty (Charlotte Stewart) are sharing a booth and, as opposed to the way they were portrayed all through the first season, they appear to be very much (and very playfully) in love.

At the counter, Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) watches his parents making out and then turns to Shelly (Madchen Amick.)  He asks her to marry him.  Shelly mentions that she’s still married to Leo and then she and Bobby start going, “Arf!  Arf!  Arf!,” which is a strangely cheerful callback to the way that Bobby and Mike taunted James Hurley at the end of the pilot.  Bobby says that Leo is up in the woods, having the time of his life.  A jump cut quickly reminds us that Leo is actually up in the woods trying to keep a bunch of tarantulas from falling down on his head.

Suddenly, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) and Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) step into the diner.  They walk right over to Maj. Briggs.  Dr. Jacoby says that Sarah has a message for him, one that she felt was very important.  Speaking in the distorted voice of Windom Earle, Sarah says, “I am in the Black Lodge with Dale Cooper.  I’m waiting for you.”

And here is where the finale basically goes insane.  Seen today, the final 20 minutes of this episode remain genuinely unsettling and often rather frightening.  I can only imagine how audiences reacted in 1991.  I did a little research (which is a fancy way of saying that I looked on Wikipedia) and, believe it or not, the top-rated television show in 1991 was 60 Minutes.  Needless to say, the finale of Twin Peaks was about as far from 60 Minutes as you could get.

In the Black Lodge, Cooper still sits in the room with red curtains.  The Man From Another Place tells him, “When you see me again, it won’t be me.”  The Man From Another Place explains that the room with red curtain is a waiting room.  (Purgatory, perhaps?)

“Some of your friends are here,” The Man From Another Place continues.

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), dressed in black, walks in and sits down beside The Man From Another Place.  “Hello Agent Cooper,” she says, speaking backwards.  “I’ll see you again in 25 years.  Meanwhile.”  Laura vanishes.

(The 25 years explains why, way back in the third episode, Cooper appeared to be a much older man in his dream.  It’s also interesting to note that, later this month, the 3rd season of Twin Peaks will air roughly 25 years after the 2nd season ended.)

Suddenly, the room service waiter (Hank Worden) appears with a cup of coffee.  “Hallelujah,” he says.  “Hallelujah,” the Man from Another Place agrees.

The waiter places on a table next to Cooper.  Suddenly, the waiter is gone and the Giant (Carel Struycken) stands in his place.  The Giant sits down next to The Man From Another Place.

“One and the same,” he says.

(Even though I know what’s going to happen, watching this scene still makes me nervous.  The Giant, the Waiter, and The Man From Another Place are the only friends that Cooper has in the Black Lodge.  Once the Giant leaves, who will be the next to come out?)

The Giant vanishes.  The Man From Another Place rubs his hands together and gets a sinister little smile on his face.  As he has done so many times since the series began, Cooper attempts to drink his coffee but discovers that it is now frozen solid.  Suddenly, it’s not frozen and it pours out of the cup.  Then, just as suddenly, it’s thick and only slowly dribbles out when Cooper tips the cup.

“Wow, BOB, wow,” the Man From Another Place says.  He looks directly at the camera and says, his voice now much more rougher, “Fire walk with me.”

It’s an incredibly unsettling moment in an already unsettling episode.  By this point, we all know what “Fire walk with me” means.

There’s an explosion.  A woman (Laura or Annie?) screams.  The lights start to strobe.  Cooper walks out of the room and finds himself, once again, in the hallway.  Having heard the scream and knowing what BOB did to Ronette, Laura, Maddy, and countless others, it is a coincidence that the only decoration in the hallway is a reproduction of the Venus de Milo, a beautiful woman who does not have the arms necessary to protect herself?  As well, it is surely not a coincidence that the Black Lodge could just as easily pass for an “exclusive” section of One-Eyed Jack’s.

Cooper steps through another set of curtains and finds himself in a second room, one that looks just like the first room except that it’s deserted.

Cooper returns to the first room where The Man From Another Place snaps, “Wrong way!”

Cooper goes back to the second room.  At first, it appears to be deserted but suddenly The Man From Another Place appears, laughing maniacally.  “Another friend!” he says and suddenly, Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), dressed in black much like Laura, steps into the room.   “Watch out for my cousin,” she says and then vanishes.

Cooper returns to the first room, which is now deserted.

Suddenly, the Man From Another Place appears beside him.

“Doppleganger,” the Man says.

Laura, her eyes white, suddenly stands in front of Cooper.  “Meanwhile,” she says.

Suddenly, Laura screams and the lights start to strobe again.  Still screaming, Laura charges at Cooper.  Cooper runs from the room and suddenly, finds himself in the Black Lodge’s foyer.  He realizes that, like all of Windom Earle’s victims, he has been stabbed in the stomach.  Cooper staggers back into the hallway and, following a trail of bloody footprints, he returns to the second room.

In the room, he sees himself lying on the floor next to Caroline Earle (Brenda E. Mathers).  Like Cooper, Caroline has been stabbed.  Suddenly, Caroline sits up and … IT’S ANNIE!  Cooper calls out her name but suddenly, the bodies disappear and the strobe lights start again.

Calling Annie’s name, Cooper returns to the first room.  Annie is waiting for him.  “Dale,” she says, “I saw the face of the man who killed me.  It was my husband.”

“Annie,” Dale says.

“Who is Annie?”

Suddenly, Annie is a white-eyed Caroline and then she transforms into the still shrieking Laura.  Laura turns into Windom Earle.  As Cooper and Windom stare at each other, Annie materializes and then vanishes again.  Windom says that he will set Annie free but only if Cooper gives up his soul.

“I will,” Cooper says and, for the first time, Cooper’s voice is now as distorted as all the other inhabitants of the Black Lodge.

Windom stabs Cooper in the stomach and suddenly, there’s another explosion.  The strobe lights start again and Windom is screaming for help.  Cooper, no longer wounded, sees that BOB (Frank Silva) has grabbed Windom.  Windom screams and BOB snaps, “BE QUIET!”

(As scary as BOB is, it’s undeniably satisfying to see Windom Earle finally not in control.)

BOB tells Cooper to go.  Windom, BOB explains, is wrong.  “He can’t ask for your soul.  I will take his!”

Windom screams as BOB literally rips his soul out of his head.  Finally, Windom falls silent.  As BOB continues to laugh, Cooper runs from the room.  Suddenly, someone else comes running through the room and — OH NO!  IT’S A DOPPELGANGER COOPER AND WOW, IS HE ACTING WEIRD!

Cooper walks through the hallway when suddenly, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) steps out from behind a curtain.  His hair is brown again but his eyes are now white.  Leland smiles and says, “I did not kill anybody.”

Doppelganger Cooper appears and chases after the real Cooper.  They run through the Black Lodge until Doppelganger Cooper manages to grab the real Cooper.

BOB appears and stares straight at the camera.  AGCK!

Suddenly, at Glastonbury Grove, the curtains appear.  Night has fallen again but Harry is still loyally sitting in the forest, waiting for Cooper’s return.  When he sees the curtains, Harry runs into the circle of trees and finds the bodies of both Cooper and Annie.

Cut to the Great Northern.  Cooper wakes up in bed, with Doc Hayward and Harry sitting beside him.  Speaking in an oddly mechanical tone of voice, Cooper first says that he wasn’t sleeping and then asks, “How’s Annie?”  Harry says that Annie is at the hospital and she’ll be okay.

“I need to brush my teeth,” Cooper says.

In the bathroom, Cooper squeezes an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink.  He then rams his head into the mirror and, as the reflection of BOB stares back at him, he starts to laugh.  “How’s Annie?” he mocking repeats.  “How’s Annie?”

AGCK!

And, with that deeply unsettling turn of events, Twin Peaks came to a temporary end.  This brilliantly directed episode ended with three cliffhangers.  What happened to Ben?  Who died at the bank?  What happened to Dale Cooper?

I promised you answers to some of those question so, according to The Secret History of Twin Peaks, here they are:

Ben survived his injury.

At the bank, the bomb killed Mr. Dibbler, Andrew, and Pete.  (Perhaps not coincidentally, both Dan O’Herlihy and Jack Nance died long before Showtime announced that it was reviving the show.)  Audrey survived, largely because Pete shielded her with his body.  Shaken by the violent death of both her brother and her husband, Catherine returned to Ben everything that he had signed over to her.  Catherine became a recluse.

As for what happened to Dale — well, that’s question that we will hopefully get an answer to when Twin Peaks returns to Showtime on May 21st!

Well, that concludes our Twin Peaks recaps!  Thank you everyone for reading and thank you, Jeff and Leonard, for going on this adventure with me!

Now, how about we all get some coffee and slice of cherry pie?

(Love ya,)

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  30. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Leonard Wilson