Underrated 90’s Thriller: “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (1992)

This has been one of my fav movies since I first saw it after coming home from a night of partying late one night in March of 2004. I’m not going to lie, my partying days were excessive back then and I was trashed when I slapped it on for the first time. Little did I know how much of a great time I would have, and still have with it to this day.

Not sure how familiar people are with the Twin Peaks phenomena but I was only 5 when that hypnotic pilot episode aired and was 7 when this, the prequel, was released, with it’s head down in shame apparently. I was too young to understand it back then and I missed out on all craziness with the fans and the tv show. I didn’t even know that there was the a prequel until the late 90s. I did know that it was in pop culture references everywhere throughout the 90s[The Simpsons, SNL, etc hell even Bob Saget was making Twin Peaks jokes if my memory serves me right], so I do know that it was warmly embraced at the time which led to my dismay after watching the prequel and reading up on it that it gets nothing but hate, with the occasional love letter. So it’s very apparent that this movie is loathed by many, which is sad, but not surprising. Personally I think it’s a masterpiece.

The story is rather simple, The Last 7 Days Of The Life Of Laura Palmer. And a prelude of the murder of Teresa Banks. There’s an ongoing debate about this prequel that if you haven’t seen the tv show the movie will be incompreshinble and basically a pretentious waste of time. Now I had only seen the pilot episode by 2004, and didn’t know anything else about the show or it’s brilliant mythology, not even who killed her. Luckily the pilot was directed by David Lynch and so was this prequel and I think that made things familar enough. I did know that by the end of the movie Laura would be dead, and that’s that on that. The way the symbolism is done is that you don’t have to see the show to still understand what is being implied. I think people can’t handle that, if it’s not spelled out clearly it pisses people off and they will flat out refuse to watch, I’ve seen it happen a many times. I stand by this opinion, you don’t need to see the TV show first to understand this movie! I still was fully engrossed by the story, amused by the quirky writing and characters, and totally intoxicated with David Lynch’s visual flair, I had all ready seen EraserHead, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway by 2004 so his approach to storytelling by that point was fully embraced by me so I was not deterred by the abstract, LSD-dipped approach to the visuals and narrative, I’m a huge style whore at heart and this has to be the 2nd most visually appealing film I’ve ever seen!

Everything about this movie is so detailed, layered, inventive, scary, sad, beautfiful, and nightmarish. The lighting and sound design go hand and hand masterfully, I’ve never seen sound used so well! So many scenes in here are terrifying, like when Laura Palmer walks up to her room under the fan…WOW! The Pink Room party? Laura’s nightmare? Every set piece is so memorable. There’s a real sense of mystery and tragedy here. A heartbreaking stroy about a young girl sexually abused by her own father while trying to project a image of High School Homecoming Queen. I’m reminded of a glamour girl balancing 8 or 9 piles of 110 dishes while having to smile and look perfect but going crazy inside and all at once it’s an explosion of porcelain! This girl is busy! Cheerleading, heay cocaine abuse, homework, prostitution to pay for the coke, late night S & M partes, 3 or 5 boyfriends, crazy nightmares/hallucinations, sexual abuse, Meals on Wheels, meeting mom for breakfast!. It’s a huge work load and very taxing, done by a very brave actress.

The music is brilliant, a work of art. I love everything about this movie, the opening credits of blue haze followed by a TV getting smashed is a great way to start this movie I think, a in your face heads up that this isn’t restrained by tv, it’s TWIN PEAKS THE MOVIE, and anything can go!

I read an extensive book on David Lynch’s career a couple months ago and the chapter on this movie was amazing, and very telling. While David Lynch won the Palme d’or at Cannes for Wild at Heart to many cheers and praise and then put his heart and soul on the line two years later and got booed, having David Lynch resort to his hotel suite depressed and in need of sedatives. I would have been there cheering. It’s funny that Quentin Tarantino would trash talk David Lycnh for this movie stating “David Lynch’s head was so far up his ass with this movie that I will not watch another David Lynch movie until it’s something new, and I LOVED David Lynch”. I said the EXACT same thing with Death Proof!

A very underrated horror movie!

– Vince Fontaine

2 thoughts on “Underrated 90’s Thriller: “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (1992)

  1. Yup, totally agree. It’s very heartening to see that non-series fans (or at least people who hadn’t watched the series yet when they watch Fire Walk With Me) are much more open-minded when they see the movie than actual fans of Twin Peaks (who tend to disparage it at every turn). Yet the conventional wisdom remains, “Don’t dream of watching the movie first.” (Somebody just said this on Twitter, and I linked to your tweet as a response!) I did watch – and love – the series first and still found the film extremely powerful, but then I was coming to it already a Lynch fan and more a movie buff than a TV buff. It seems like horror fans, Lynch buffs, and avant-garde acolytes best appreciate the movie. Apparently it was just targetted at the wrong audience. I really hope when the blu-ray comes out in a few weeks, there’s a major reassessment. I like that Lynch is making it such a crucial part of the package, as if he’s doubling down and saying, “I know a lot of you don’t like Fire Walk With Me and don’t want to consider it part of the Twin Peaks universe. Tough shit.”

    I’ve just written a lot about the movie (and Lynch’s other films) on my own blog, by the way – feel free to check it out and hopefully you’ll see something you like (should be linked through my name here). Going to be doing some interesting interviews (well, at least one – waiting to hear back on the others) with Peaks scholars and perhaps those involved behind the scenes as well in the coming months. It’s hard to leave this town once you fall under its spell.

    Oh – and was the book you read Beautiful Dark? I own it and am planning to get to it soon, but I couldn’t resist and read the Twin Peaks & FWWM chapters ahead of time. Really great insights, especially since the author happened to be in Snoqualmie while they were shooting and relays a lot of his memories of the production. You’re very right about Lynch putting his heart and soul into this and then being rejected. The story behind the film sometimes feels as poignant as the story onscreen. Everyone wanted a piece of Laura Palmer, but no one really loved her – in the movie and apparently in the real world too.

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