TWIN PEAKS: The Return Review

There we go. Eighteen weeks have now passed and we have seen the return of one of the most original and strangely influential cult television shows ever seen. Did you watch it?

We have had around a twenty five year gap since the show was last on tv and this actually has clever significance in the storyline. When it had finally been confirmed that this show was due to return after a number of years of rumours all kinds of thoughts came to mind. Which actors would or even could return? How could the story continue? Was it actually a good idea to bring it back at all?

Famously, the show ended with a highly dramatic final episode closing series 2 (spoiler) as Agent Cooper seemed to have been possessed by the evil spirit Bob. So what did happen next?

Back in the early 90’s this was a show which divided opinion-unlike practically any tv show we had ever seen before thanks to auteur film director David Lynch who had previously made such surreal and often disturbing dream-like films including Eraserhead and Blue Velvet. Along with writer Mark Frost they set out to offer a detective drama show that would confound our expectations and make us work to find the story and possible logic among the long takes, unusual scenes and increasingly bizarre imagery every so often. Starting out like a regular whodunit but with extremely emotional reactions to the death of local girl Laura Palmer, Agent Cooper and the law enforcement came up against often highly strange clues and signs leading them and the audience somewhere-although we regularly were not too sure exactly where.

All these years later and when it seemed like Lynch was even giving up on making another feature film or similar work, he and Frost united again and it was confirmed a number of the key cast would be along for the ride. Needless to say expectations were so high for whatever would eventually be on our small screens this time. While David Lynch does have his own regular recurring themes and motifs I don’t think most of us expected even half as much as what we did get.

The new series started off frustratingly slow and that did seem very Lynch. While this did test some people we knew we had many weeks to go but surprisingly episode two went pretty darn crazy. The hardcore Lynch fan got a load of mad Lynch world sooner than hoped for. From this point on the story was set up and it moved along with (spoilers) two Agent Coopers. We got ‘evil’ Cooper and some kind of dazed Cooper who now resided in the new identity of Dougie Jones who is a regular family guy who works in insurance. This dazed Cooper we watch for what feels at times like years as he ambles around barely able to put a sentence together or walk in a straight line by himself. Meanwhile ‘evil’ Cooper knows that the Black Lodge is calling him back after twenty five years but he has other plans.

So how different is Twin Peaks this time around? Some of the things which made it such an iconic show first time around are not entirely there-the well known musical score and atmospheric themes are only at the beginning and end of the show for almost the entire series, and this kind of makes sense as the show has a very different focus and feel. As we stay with Dougie Cooper for a long while he is often much like some silent movie comedy actor or mime, his dialogue almost zero and all just about his bumbling movement and dazed perception of the world. This is not at all the confident and highly perceptive Agent Cooper we are familiar with. We see ‘evil’ Cooper off and on along his devious journey but these scenes are often very tense or even highly violent. The original series all those years ago had neither of these qualities to such great extents and so the music and atmosphere is much different this time.

Not all of the main cast of actors did return-some opted out, some had passed away in real life, a few passing after completing their scenes such as Albert and the Log Lady. The show could not have returned without Kyle MacLachlan and we really should offer much well deserved praise for his dual performances of three characters all through the new series.

Was this series too long? Initially Lynch was offered around six or eight episodes. He soon after suddenly went of strike or almost walked from the project with many of the cast supporting him. Not too long after, the network or producers made their changes and the series almost doubled in length with director and cast all back again.

There were a number of guest actors and well known Hollywood actors involved this time, and while I might have expect bigger performance from some of them I think Lynch reigned them in or they held themselves back possibly knowing that it was more about this big special storyline than any one performance.

Did we get the answers we had been waiting twenty five years for? Well…yes and no. in some ways Lynch gave us more than we usually get from him in terms of narrative explanation but then of course with the last couple of episodes he threw us a bunch of new twists and clues to argue over for years to come. That is probably how we real Lynch fans want it anyway to be honest.

So the show is not the same show many of us first saw when we were younger viewers but we have aged, time has moved on, David Lynch and Mark frost have aged and changed. I have known for a long time that Lynch has been practising Transcendental Meditation for decades now, almost right from the start of his filmmaking career and I think through the first two series of Twin Peaks. The influence of this may actually be much more obvious in this new series than in any of his other work with the notions of Bob the ancient evil Earth spirit and Laura Palmer as a positive energy spirit force in some sense and the powerful influence of both on the many character in the show. This I can handle and I am fine with even if it was not so prominent in the original show.

Some last questions-what the heck happened to Audrey and Laura’s mother? What really was Judy (Jowday) ? Was Bob really killed? Is Cooper really Agent Cooper? When the heck have Cooper and Laura ended up in the last episode?

Overall while it have been just a few hours too long, I think we got a really great return from Lynch and Frost and the influential show which changed television history.

 

James E. Parsons is author of the SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century both available now from all good bookshops and online shops. His new horror novel Northern Souls is due to be published late September/early October.

 

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Outside: A Graphic Anthology of New Horror Fiction — Geek Syndicate

Outside: A Graphic Anthology of New Horror Fiction OUTSIDE wraparound visuals Released in collaboration with TOPICS BERLIN and PURE STORY Productions, OUTSIDE has been carefully curated to provide readers with a diverse and powerful collection of twisted stories. The book is available from the website or from the Topics Bookshop in Berlin. OUTSIDE illustrated poem…

via Outside: A Graphic Anthology of New Horror Fiction — Geek Syndicate

Northern Souls- Death will tear us apart…

It has been written for a while. My new and first horror novel has been in the works through all of the time I had been writing my first sci-fi novel Orbital Kin and I have been redrafting it a few times in the last couple of years.

What is it about?

You may have seen some photos on my social media, read some short hints about the story. I will tell you a little more now-

In the North East of England a young man named Eric has recently had to deal with the death of his girlfriend Grace. It has shaken his life unbelievably but some things about her death don’t add up or just don’t make sense.

He does see Grace again and it is her message which really starts the story of this book.

Besides this lamented and tragically ended romance there are others dying and disappearing mysteriously around the North East. Bloody trails and rumours circulate along with fears and talk of ancient local myths and legend.

You may have heard of some of the most famous Northern legends about monsters or ghosts such as the Lambton Worm, Tam Lin, The Witch of Seaton Delaval, the White Lady of Blenkinsopp, the death of Cuthbert and others. How much of these old local tales are entertaining fiction and how much of them contain some element of truth?

There may be ghosts, there may be abominations as Eric and his friends move around the North East hoping to save souls while the blood spills, flesh is torn and supernatural forces rise around them.

Northern Souls is due to be published late September/early October 2017 in paperback in all good bookshops.

James E. Parsons has previously published two SF books- Orbital Kin & Minerva Century available now.

 

 

Blair Witch (2016) film review

Did horror fans think the Blair Witch franchise would have returned to the big screen earlier than this? With the infamous original film released in 1999 and the largely disappointing rushed sequel a couple of years later it has been a very long wait for some else linked to that story.

Has the wait been worth it? Could this next sequel be a much of a controversial intense rush as the first film?

As I understand we have had to wait such a long time for another sequel due to the problems relating to the directors of the original and what bigger studios wanted to do next with the story. Obviously, they have learned from the mistake of the original sequel which disposed with the handheld found footage format and was shot just like any other regular Hollywood horror flick mostly. It made sense to return to the original format which caused such a stir back in the late 90’s but there was the challenge of how to make something new with that this time around…

The story for Blair Witch seemed fairly obvious of course-younger brother of main character of Heather from the original decided to go looking for her in this new sequel or to at least find out what exactly did happen to her and her friends around twenty years ago. With a couple of concerned but supportive friends he travels back out to Burkittsville and they meet with two young and strange people who posted some intriguing information online. Together the group go back into the woods and encounter another series of unexplainable and terrifying events.

So then we have a new set of young people, in the same place of the original film. Do they get spooked? Of course they do. Is it confusing, terrifying, nerve shaking stuff?

Well remember…in the years since the original Blair Witch Project we’ve had very many films which had looked similar or used the ‘found footage’ technique. So worked, so didn’t. I remember going to see the original after seeing the repeated tv trailers which showed many traumatized cinema goers after coming out saying how freaked out they were and clips of them in the cinema almost jumping into the air in apparently genuine fear at what was on screen.

This was not really the case. The filmmakers really knew what they were doing with promoting and marketing their very extremely low budget movie, selling it on mystery and fear as a supposedly real documentary and collected footage of young filmmakers who really did disappear in the woods.

Years later of course, we know all of this and so we will watch any new similar sequel with a large amount of  skepticism. But if you’re a horror film fan, you might go along with it all. From the trailers and early pictures it seemed that the new filmmakers this time really wanted to take what the first film had and push it up to eleven. Do we get that?

Okay so it does feel very much like the original but how could it not? It is shot hand-held, it is a group of young twentysomethings going into the woods looking for signs of unusual activity. What we have this time almost twenty years on, are much better CGI special effects which are added into what still looks like a very realistic low budget movie. Like the original, it does take a good while for anything disturbing to actually happen, and even then it isn’t much. Eventually though the witch leaves her mark and then things get shaken up for the group.

Even though this time around the young characters have better internet, smart phones, even drone cameras at their disposal it all feel so much like the original until the last hour or so. This is where it goes full ‘haunted house’ spook-show. All out confusion, panic and fear is before us, the characters are lost, terrified plucked off one by one. We do get to see much more of what could be the actual legendary famous Burkittsville witch this time. I suppose that it does all work very well, and is pretty terrifying right in this last twenty minutes. If you’ve seen the original, probably just constant de ja vu. If you have not seen the original, I think this film really will probably work very well.

I would I like to have seen them do something very different with this sequel? They could have gone somewhere else with the story, looked elsewhere into the legend of the witch and Burkittsville maybe. We’ve had the first sequel Book of Shadows which most people really hated (wait for it…I kind of like some of it somehow…I know, sorry). Is this the sequel we should have had back in 2000? Maybe it is for a number of reasons it didn’t happen back then. Should we get another sequel soon? I would go back to Burkittsville but dig around for something else next time…

James E. Parsons is author of SF books Orbital Kin & Minerva Century both available from all good bookshops now and online. His first horror novel Northern Souls is published this October.

 

‘Mech Cadet Yu’ Promoted to Ongoing Series at BOOM! Studios — Outright Geekery

After selling out the week of release at the distributor level BOOM! Studios is excited to announce that the MECH CADET YU has been upgraded to an ongoing series. The post ‘Mech Cadet Yu’ Promoted to Ongoing Series at BOOM! Studios appeared first on Outright Geekery.

via ‘Mech Cadet Yu’ Promoted to Ongoing Series at BOOM! Studios — Outright Geekery

LEGION- TV Review

Alright so this show was originally shown back around Feb/April time but I have only just got to watching all of it in just over one week with my wife. I had read and heard so many good things about this show, seen many funny and quirky gifs and clips. Right back then months ago, I did start to watch the first episode but well…life got right in the way. This happens from time to time.

So with LEGION what have we got? This is a show connected to the X-Men comicbook and film series. Not exactly a real spin-off show, but the characters do come from that same place and in future the show may overlap with the films. This is not just the X-Men you already know for small screen pleasure. No, this show and this main character LEGION/David Haller are both very complex, tricky things to understand right away but enjoyably so.

This is not a superhero comicbook show like the Arrow, Flash, Smallville and others. Legion or David is a very sick and confused young man and also a mutant-but he does not know that part right away. He is diagnosed with schizophrenia and in a mental hospital. We meet him when some unusual men in suits come to question him one day. This does not go well. Soon after David is outside, having escaped with a young woman called Sydney (also a patient inside) and he goes with her to join a secret group who say they can help him with himself and the real truth.

From the very start this is a highly unusual quirky, funny, strange show. If you have been becoming bored or tired with the very familiar mutant heroes of the X-Men world, well here we get a much more troubled and difficult character. David narrates his past early in the show but how much of it is the real truth? How much of it is real memory, fantasy or even thoughts from his other personalities?

So while that does seem very challenging to get to grips with there is steady regular humour through the series. It knows that the premise is bizarre and kooky so it gives us that with a sly wink and knowing style. It often pays homage to films such as 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, One Flow Over the Cuckoos Nest and many others. There are regular often hilarious musical sequences cut between the equally very dark and troubling memories and forces show within David and chasing him.

Like the Deadpool movie, this show offers us something much different to the usual superhero action and buff and beautiful perfection all the way. LEGION can almost be uncomfortable at times, as it focuses on personal psychological trauma and mental states. It is based on a comicbook, but like the recent Netflix Marvel shows it can come across as very real and quite powerful emotionally at times.

Will everyone like this show? Possibly not. Will everyone keep track of it, follow the plot and understand it all the way to the end of the series? I’ll be honest there were two or three times at least where I almost lost track and had to stop and mentally go back a little. This is not a simple action adventure run-of-the-mill show like Legends of Tomorrow or Arrow. At times you have to pay really good attention to where the story is with this crazy gem.

Alright so it doesn’t perhaps work all the way right through the series, but really just about. It could simply be that we’re watching a superhero comicbook tale but the villain is not a totally straight forward regular kind of enemy we see in the Marvel or DC movies. David is not exactly a simple nice or likable hero character and so far into the show we almost think it could be that we really don’t like this guy any longer. He new mutant friends are also a damaged and interesting bunch of characters. Some of them not telling the whole truth, some of them scared, confused or angry with him and events around them.

Like I said earlier though it is often a very funny show, but it is a show which balances very well a number of dramatic and emotional styles. The producers and writers obviously had a good deal of courage and faith in this very different comicbook show but it has really worked for them.

If you are a fan of the X-Men films and the Marvel Netflix shows you should really give this a go right now.

 

James E. Parsons is author of two SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century books out now in all good bookshops and online shops. His first horror novel is due late 2017.

Look Out For … Nights of the Living Dead edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A Romero — This Is Horror

Look Out For … Nights of the Living Dead edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A Romero “It’s with a reflective mood that we’re looking forward to seeing what some of the genres finest writers are bringing to the very start of Romero’s legacy” In 1968 the world experienced a brand new kind of terror…

via Look Out For … Nights of the Living Dead edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A Romero — This Is Horror

Frankenstein (2015) Film Review

There have been so many films over the decades based upon the hugely influential and famous book by Mary Shelley. This new version I watched a week ago does change things around just a little and because of this does bring some new things to the story.

This Frankenstein film is directed by Bernard Rose (most famous for directing the first Candyman movie) and starring Carrie-Anne Moss, Danny Huston, Xavier Samuel. The begins right away with the ‘birth’ of the monster, this time called Adam (played by Xavier Samuel). We see that he is created in secret by married scientists Carrie-Anne Moss and Danny Huston. They run tests, try to teach him skills, and he starts life much like a naïve simple child. He does though possess a dangerous increased strength and eventually this almost has him terminated. After struggle, Adam escapes and runs away alone.

After this it moves along in similar fashion to the original story-the monster/Adam meets and accidentally kills a small girl, runs from police officers, blood is spilled as he runs on alone, confused and desperate.

The film is told from the point of view of the monster/Adam and set in our modern world. This does make it fairly more believable and more tragic in some ways. This does contrast in my mind with the large scale, big budget mid-90’s film version starring De Niro as the monster, with huge sets and costumes and set way back around the time that the original book was written.

Adam soon meets a friendly homeless blind-man on the streets who tries to give him advice and help him to understand people and how the world around them works. If you know the story, you can expect that eventually it all does again fall to pieces with increasing death and destruction around Adam. The end is more different to how the tale usually winds up and is trying to say something through the eyes of the monster this time.

Bernard Rose is a very talented director and while this film has a fairly low budget he does take care in crafting a very thoughtful and poetic film, while it does not shy away from explicit bloodshed and gore fairly frequently. It is probably one of the more bloodsplattered versions of Frankenstein on film but this does not ruin the film. Another director doing the same thing, with same levels of blood and gore may have put out a much more simplistic disposable movie. With this version of the classic tale, Rose opens out some different thoughts on man creating man or life in our modern technologically advanced times, but also how such an artificial being would exist, feel, struggle against our fearful, aggressive and shallow world.

James E. Parsons is author of SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century both out now in paperback/ebook/hardback in all good bookshops internationally and online from Waterstones, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others. His first horror novel will be published toward the end of 2017.

Ness confirms he wouldn’t be involved with Class year 2 — Sci-Fi Bulletin: Exploring the Universes of SF, Fantasy

If Doctor Who spin-off Class is eventually picked up for a second year, then creator Patrick Ness won’t be involved. “I decided awhile back that, with unbelievable regret, I won’t be writing any more Class, even if a season 2 moves ahead,” he wrote on Twitter on June 4. “It has been the MOST amazing […]

via Ness confirms he wouldn’t be involved with Class year 2 — Sci-Fi Bulletin: Exploring the Universes of SF, Fantasy

Netflix’s Sense8 is Cancelled After Only Two Seasons — Welcome to the Legion!

Netflix’s Sense8 is Cancelled After Only Two Seasons Netflix’s most compelling LGBTQA sci-fi series Sense8 has officially come to an end, after only two seasons and one HUGE cliffhanger. Sigh…. “After 23 episodes, 16 cities and 13 countries, the story of the Sense8 cluster is coming to an end,” Cindy Holland, VP Netflix original content, said…

via Netflix’s Sense8 is Cancelled After Only Two Seasons — Welcome to the Legion!