Experiment in Twin Peaks

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 11, 2019 04:25pm | Post a Comment

Experiment In Terror

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

The next evening you are heading through the Yerba Buena Tunnel on your way over the Emperor Norton Bridge to Baghdad By The Bay be sure to play Henry Mancini's all time slow-creeper hit, "Experiment in Terror," which is the theme from Blake Edward's outstandingly suspenseful crime movie of the same name.

The lead of the film, played by Lee Remick, is under the spell of fear from a psychotic killer played by none other than Ross Martin, who many of you may remember as Artemus Gordon, "Inventor" and "Master of Disguise" on the TV show The WIld Wild West (1965-69). Lee's character asks for the help of the FBI and is helped by an agent played by Glenn Ford. One of my favorite movies with Glenn Ford is Lust for Gold (1949) where he plays Jacob Waltz, the famous Dutchman who hides his gold in the Superstition Mountains. You've heard of the Lost Dutchman's treasure right? How about the famous Peratla Stones? Another film that I really enjoy that also involves Glenn Ford and hidden treasure is the 1953 crime-adventure Plunder of the Sun.

Back to Experiment in Terror...many of the scenes of this film are shot up in Twin Peaks and the house that Lee Remick's character lives in is still there and looks almost exactly the same. It is said that when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in San Francisco in the 18th century, they called the two peaks "Los Pechos de la Chola" or "Breasts of the Indian Maiden." Carol Doda, a beloved local topless dancer of San Francisco during the 1960s, had her bosom inflated from a size 33 to a 44 and she became known as the "New Twin Peaks of San Francisco." For the important preservation of local history, I personally just polished her plaque on the side of the Condor Club in North Beach. What else does Carol Doda have in common with Experiment in Terror you ask? Well, in the movie, the killer tells Lee Remick’s little sister (played by Stephanie Powers who was on The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.) that she must meet him at the corner of 25th and Clement. This is also the same intersection where the burger joint Bill’s Place still is. Bill’s has been serving cheeseburgers to the Outer Richmond since 1959 and they offer many local celebrity burgers such as the Herb Caen burger (who came out with the SF nickname “Baghdad by the Bay”) and the Carol Doda burger, which is the “breast” burger you will ever have, for it’s an open face burger with two patties on each bun next to each other and a single black olive strategically placed on each patty.

But back to Ross Martin, as he truly "takes the cake" in Experiment in Terror. Not only is he super creepy, but you end up having a soft spot for him....and then you get creeped out by him again. There is a scene in a women's restroom that is sooooo good, but I dare not give away anymore of this fantastic film! Really, the next time this movie plays at the Castro Theatre, cancel whatever you had already planned on your amazing Dirty Clouds calendar (made by Dracula's Flute) and go see it! Or if you cannot wait, get the Blu-ray or a VHS copy here at Amoeba and take it home, make a tall, cold glass of malt Ovaltine and pound yourself a fresh calamari steak, grill it in the cast-iron and top it with some garlic butter and lemon wedges, and then watch Experiment in Terror at home on your vintage Underdog dinner tray. Stop dreaming the dream and start living it!

You can also see Ross as Zorgon the Malevolent on the 1977 TV series Quark, which stars the Barnstable twins as Betty 1 and Betty 2.

Barnstable Twins

Relevant Tags

Kai Wada Roath (41), Film (197), San Francisco (383), Henry Mancini (8), Blake Edward (1), Lee Remick (1), Ross Martin (1), Glenn Ford (5), Carol Doda (1), Stephanie Powers (1), Barnstable Twins (1), Film Noir (53)