This weekend, the Twin Peaks UK Festival welcomes cast members and devotees to Whitechapel's Genesis Cinema to celebrate 25 years of seductive mysteries.
Contemporary culture has for some time now, been laced with references to the show's iconography, from themed dining to tribute concerts, from clothing lines to art exhibitions. Here In London Peaks is never far away, with the deliciously nightmarish Lynchian inspired 'Double R Club' regularly selling out Bethnal Green Working Men's club. Why is it then that one small 90s fictional town continues to cast a long shadow over so many around the world?
My journey into Twin Peaks began with the appalling murder of Lynda Mann. Our teacher confirmed the news as all eyes turned to Lynda's grey plastic chair, now occupied only by an absence of light. With whispers of curfews and serial killers, our town became mottled with paranoia, suspicion and fear. Amateur sleuths appointed themselves overnight; wild theories abounded.
There amongst the mists of November 1983, realisation dawned within me that evil wasn't something distant or untouchable, evil had taken up residency inside one of us and suddenly no one seemed trustworthy. The brutal anguish of the tearing of a unique soul from our reality was compounded by the seemingly endless lack of obvious progress in related police investigations.
Over time, life in our little town returned to a revised version of normality, one in which any life might be stolen away without warning and one in which those wrongly implicated in Lynda's murder struggled to repair ragged reputations. The emergence of evil within our community proved to be an on-going conduit for self-examination and doubt. Could such evil be as a lone tree in the forest? Or was the capacity for evil dormant in the roots that held up every trunk?
In time I too moved on, left school; fell in love, moved away.
Lynda remains forever 15.
Moving Through Time (October 1990)
BBC2's 'Late Show' is previewing a new series about the murder of a school girl, David my partner remarks that it might be worth watching. I'm not convinced for I still bear unprocessed scar tissue. However the fear of missing out on 'the series that will change television' won out and I so tentatively watched the Twin Peaks Pilot, It brought me face to face with aspects of Lynda's murder that I had previously blanked. I considered switching channels, but the Pilot's unprecedented, bravura portrayal of raw grief somehow enabled release of my own internalised anger, not only over the loss of a fellow student, but also of my lost optimism in human nature.
Most unexpectedly Twin Peaks had served as a form of therapy.
Twin Peaks' televisual fire burned over only two seasons; post cancellation film Fire Walk With Me seemed only to sour the cherry for many. Whilst Twin Peaks ultimately faltered in the wake of network pressure and a too slow out of the gate post 'Laura's murderer is revealed' core narrative, its legacy was inspiring previously unseen cinema aesthetics and risk-taking on prime-time TV even before it expired. Yet Twin Peaks never went away, it merely dissipated into wider TV culture, developing multiple personalities on such shows as Northern Exposure, American Gothic, Eerie Indiana, The X-Files, Lost and Fortitude. In these one could sense Peaks lurking just under the fingernail. Yet for fans, none came close to the standard set by Lynch/Frost, after all Peaks wasn't just a show- it was a feeling.
By the late 2000s a renaissance was happening via online chat groups and in music, art and fashion, related perhaps to the maturation of teenagers who had watched on first viewing and to those who had seen their parents re watching or reminiscing. It became not uncommon to read re-appraisals of Fire Walk With Me, whilst box-sets of the series meant that new viewers could visit. Laura Palmer's corpse was exhumed on 90s retrospective shows, whilst in America the Twin Peaks Fest continued to pull in new fans from around the world. Lynch too seemed to have processed the initial negativity surrounding Fire Walk With Me, finally stating 'Twin Peaks is still there.'
In 2014 the 'Twin Peaks Complete Mystery Blu-Ray' landed in devotees living rooms, served up with a thinly veiled hint from Lynch that not only were there were more stories to be told, but he was finally ready to tell them.
Autumn 2015 has seen global media coverage of the new (not reboot) series, interest in the show seems higher than it was in the run up to the Pilot. What implications Twin Peaks+25 holds for the future of this resilient little town must, for now, remain a mystery, rather appropriately as a strong core mystery must surely be present in order to entice a younger Twitter/Netflix age audience.
Lindsey Bowden (Producer of the Twin Peaks UK Festival) became a fan at the age of 14. Bowden recalls forming a Twin Peaks club at school; 'Twin Peaks drew me in straight away, there was something romantic about the show, with its mix of mystery, horror and intrigue all rolled into one. It was safe place to be on my dark days.' Fan Max Leonard Hitchings was drawn in by a 'sense of enchantment'. That the show generates a romantic, magical aura is not an uncommon view, indeed despite the town's dark deeds, my annual re-watch consistently casts a warm, enticing hue over my soul.
Perhaps this is why I never gave up my residency of a town that allowed me to safely explore the potential for human evil, whilst at the same time reminding me of the joy of the wind in the trees, of the comfort of a soft pillow and of the crust of a freshly cooked pie.
After 25 years questions are still being asked, but until 2017 rolls around, in Lynch/Frost we must trust.
Fire In a bottle, can it be captured twice? I can't wait to find out.
(Dedicated to the memory of Lynda Mann)
Tickets are still available for the Twin Peaks UK Festival at http://www.twinpeaksukfestival.com/