Halloween Week: Saturday - KISS!

Saturday brings us Halloween and memorable kisses... strange pairing. No wait, memorable KISSage.

Yes, we have another bit of "Thirteen Years Later" homage as Joselyn has done this wonderful little video to KISS, one of the iconic elements of "Thirteen Years Later."

KISS – Biography

Regarded as one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time, KISS was assembled in 1973 in the city of New York by co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, soon joined by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley.

Stanley came up with the name while Frehley is credited with the KISS logo design. This extremely famous and acclaimed band has produced 37 albums across 36 years of music, with over 100 million albums sold worldwide. During this period, the original members separated: Criss left in 1979 and Frehley left in 1982. Nevertheless, in 1995 the band reunited to perform in a special MTV Unplugged concert, inviting Criss and Frehley to participate.

Keeping with this sense of nostalgia, in 1997 the original KISS members appeared at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards for the first time after 17 years of separation. In the following year, the album Psycho Circus was released on September 22nd, 1998. Between the release of the album and the kickoff of the KISS Psycho Circus tour in 3D, the band was invited to participate in cameo roles for the fifth episode from season three of Millennium, “Thirteen Years Later,” alongside cast members Lance Henriksen, Klea Scott, and special guest Jeff Yagher. The episode aired on October 30th while the tour started on Halloween itself, October 31st, 1998.

In 2008, the band decided to record another studio album, which was released in 2009 under the name Sonic Boom, and another studio album will be released mid-2011. As of July 2010 Kiss continues with their new tour, The Hottest Show on Earth, within the United States.

Happy Birthday, James McLean!

I hope you all are enjoying our fantastic Halloween Week! We just got confirmation from "Thirteen Years Later" writer Michael R. Perry that it was him who recently left a comment on our blog! How fantastic is that? So, while we enjoy that bit of information, let's take a quick breather and pass on some very important news.

Yesterday our good friend James McLean celebrated his birthday. It would be criminal for us not to take time out to wish him a very happy birthday. James, as I am sure you know, is the one who started the Back to Frank Black campaign back in 2007. Little did I know that having James as a guest on my podcast at the time would lead to me becoming a part of this fantastic journey we are all taking.

With everything that has gone on with the campaign, good and bad, James has always kept an upbeat and positive attitude which definitely rubs off on everyone around him. He's made the last several years working on this campaign an absolute joy! So, James, here's to you my friend. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Please show your birthday love for James by leaving him a comment. I know he would enjoy it.

Halloween Week: Friday - What the Killer Sees: Marc Bianco

Just two days to go until Halloween. Somewhere demons are conspiring, spirits are stirring, witches are reading up on new dastardly spells, vampires are sharpening their teeth, zombies are groaning... you get the idea.

And meanwhile it’s Day Five of Halloween Week here at Back to Frank Black. Our focus upon Season Three’s “Thirteen Years Later” gives my regular column here the opportunity to come at its profile from a slightly different angle in this edition, and I hope you will find it as interesting as I did to research. You may never again be able to view the horror genre in quite the same way after this particular glimpse into What the Killer Sees...

Killer: Marc Bianco (Jeff Yagher)

Episode: “...Thirteen Years Later” (30 October 1998)

Writer: Michael R. Perry

Director: Thomas J. Wright

Quote: “I wanted to be like you, Frank. I wanted to see what the killer sees... But, you know, by killing them I learned something really important... I really like killing people. And now I know what you know.” --Marc Bianco

Profile: In considering the psychology of Marc Bianco, it is important to understand from the outset that the events surrounding his case as we witness them are at least to some degree – and quite possibly in their entirety – an unreliable account, given they are narrated by Bianco himself whilst incarcerated in a penitentiary for the criminally insane. Nevertheless, that narration in itself tells us something about him.

Undoubtedly, Marc Bianco is delusional. From the evidence we witness he very possibly suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, in which the subject displays multiple distinct identities or alter egos. Not only does Bianco immerse himself in his screen role as a ridiculous version of Frank Black, he also commits his killings in a series of otherwise irreconcilably diverse fashions. Such a diagnosis is normally linked to a major trauma or period of stress as a trigger originating earlier in life. We get no hint as to what this may be in Bianco’s case, but we certainly see evidence as to just how deep his psychosis penetrates as he rants to a room full of oblivious fellow inmates.

A word or two on schizophrenia is merited at this juncture also, since this is a diagnosis to which the layman might leap. Schizophrenia is a much misunderstood and relatively common disorder in which cognitive and emotional responses to stimuli are misappropriated. Paranoid schizophrenics are the most common subgroup and hit headlines since when they do resort to violent crime their dysfunction allows them to commit the most appalling acts, but this is incredibly rare. It cannot be stressed enough that schizophrenics are very, very rarely homicidal – possibly even less so than non-sufferers of the condition – in spite of what a slew of horror genre material would have us believe. As Reverend Goodman cautions us, “Never believe anything you see on Halloween”.

Another aspect of Bianco’s psychological make-up that marks him out is how he seeks to become Frank Black way above and beyond the demands of his starring role in an abysmal B-movie, to mimic him and his understanding of “what the killer sees” to the point of committing multiple murders himself. Bianco is so drawn to Frank’s ability to put himself into the killer’s head that he becomes lost to his delusions, and quite literally becomes capability, the thing we fear the most. It is perhaps a telling reminder of the toll that this line of work can take upon forensic psychologists, Frank Black included.

The other psychological effect that Marc Bianco forces us to examine is the purported effect of horror in the mediums of television and film on the perpetrators of violent crime. High profile examples include a murderer apparently motivated in turn by a book on barbaric murderers, a Zodiac killer copycat, any number of copycat killings attributed to the movie Natural Born Killers, a teenager who copied Dexter’s methodology in committing fratricide and, perhaps most chillingly similar to the case of Marc Bianco and also related in part to Dexter, the case of filmmaker Mark Andrew Twitchell.

Whilst a media favourite topic, however, there is no empirical evidence to suggest a link between the consumption of horror and the committal of violent crime. Moreover, it is often the preoccupation by media outlets with such links that is seen by some to risk propagating them. The very attention given to serial and spree killers in particular often serves merely to portray them as people of power that can elevate them to be all but anti-heroes, whilst Millennium is normally far more effective at portraying its antagonists as violent, disturbed individuals who may even be the agents of some deeper rooted evil. And as a further editorial aside, the mediums of television and film surely teach and reinforce far more moral values than they do destroy them, even – and perhaps especially – when they are this dark in tone.

Kills: 8

Investigation: Quite frankly, it’s anybody’s guess as to exactly how the investigation into Marc Bianco went down. Frank Black and Emma Hollis’ state of perplexity at the unfolding set of murders exemplifies how hard it is to fit Marc Bianco into a neat psychological profile. They do, however, spend an inordinate amount of time over a bowl of popcorn profiling a variety of preposterous yet entertaining killers from the screen, and Frank’s insights here are priceless whilst adding a whole new take on how the genre represents murderers and their motives. Just something to think about when you’re devouring your horror fare of choice this Halloween.

Halloween Week: Thursday - Joselyn's Eye

It's Day Four of our Halloween Week celebrations here and once again we have something very special to accompany your preparations as you continue to work on terrifying pumpkin carvings, shop for outrageous party outfits and barricade your homes against the oncoming storm of candy-rabid children.

Today we're very happy to be able to present the return of Joselyn's Eye for the first of two outings this week! This edition comprises a documentary redux of "Thirteen Years Later", so sit back and enjoy a peek behind the scenes of the making of this extraordinary episode...

Material from the Millennium Season Three DVD box set is © Copyright Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc and its related entities. Any use of copyrighted material or images is for the purposes of lawful educational research, promotional news and critical review, their use being allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law.

Halloween Week: Wednesday - John Kenneth Muir on Thirteen Years Later

We have an exclusive "Thirteen Years Later" article written by award-winning horror writer John Kenneth Muir for you to enjoy your Halloween Wednesday. The man's work needs no introduction, though if it does, maybe a good starting point is his very comprehensive blog. His books, web-movies, and all things Muir can be navigated to from there! Comments and feedback are always welcome and read by the author!

Inside The Labyrinth of Millennial Post-Modernism:

Millennium’s “Thirteen Years Later”… Not Quite Thirteen Years Later

By John Kenneth Muir

While investigating “The Madman Maniac” case on a horror movie set in Trinity, South Carolina, F.B.I. detective Emma Hollis (Klea Scott) asks profiler extraordinaire Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) an important question about their current investigation.

She asks him if he recalls the serial killer called “The Frenchman” -- a figure depicted so memorably in Millennium’s pilot episode in 1996 -- and wonders if this case could be similar in an important way. Except that instead of a Scripture-quoting serial killer, the contemporary investigation involves one who utilizes horror movie “quotations” or allusions as his source of creativity.

Quite reasonably, this raises a procedural question. Shouldn’t the case’s investigators be watching and researching horror films to glean a sense of the Madman Maniac killer’s next move, as well as his motivations?

Frank is impressed and agreeable regarding this course of action.

Queue John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978)…

This short scene is very much the lynchpin of the Millennium third season episode, “Thirteen Years Later,” and for two important reasons.

First and foremost, it suggests the leitmotif of Michael R. Perry’s complex story: horror movies serving as important clues in capturing a serial killer. And secondly, the very act of a horror-themed TV show delving into the horror genre (and referring to a previous episode in Millennium canon too…) heavily reflects the cultural context of the episode’s epoch.

Specifically, the year 1998 represented the pinnacle of the 1990s self-reflexive, post-modernist horror movement in cinema. This was the era of Wes Craven’s Scream (1996), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Scream 2 (1997), Urban Legend (1997) and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998).

More or less, all of these scary movies thrived upon the notion of killers taking horror movies as inspiration for violent behavior. And to varying degrees, the characters in these new-styled slasher films, realize they have actually landed in a horror film and either act accordingly and survive, or fail to…and die.

Intentionally mimicking this then-popular horror movie format, “Thirteen Years Later” both gazes at Millennium’s internal history (the events of the pilot, as well as Frank’s old case of over a dozen years ago) and the genre the series belongs to.

To succeed as self-reflexive satire of the horror format, this Millennium episode must first ape that form, and this is where “Thirteen Years Later” proves rather clever. In particular terms, the episode closely mirrors and rigorously conforms to the “Slasher Movie Paradigm” I excavated in my 2007 McFarland book, Horror Films of the 1980s.

As the title of the Millennium episode suggests, the narrative involves a crime or transgression in the past, in this case, a crime Frank investigated over a decade back. More significantly, it boasts what I termed an organizing principle or “umbrella of unity” too, in this case a world or venue from which all the killings draw inspiration and creativity.

In my book, I noted that: “The organizing principle is what every slasher film ultimately hangs its hooks upon. It is the key to every aspect of the film: from setting to character motivations to mode of kills and even final chase.” (page 20).

In Friday the 13th (1980), that organizing principle was the summer camp, Camp Crystal Lake. In He Knows You’re Alone (1981), the organizing principle was the world of weddings (brides, a church, a dress shop, a dress tailor…). In A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), the killings by Freddy Krueger all occurred in the dream world.

In “Thirteen Years Later,” the organizing principle is simply the cutthroat world of contemporary, Hollywood: a 1990s-era movie set. This organizing principle makes way for the episode’s prospective victim pool (personal trainers, producers, ingénues, pampered Shakespearean actors, etc.), muddies the water in terms of useful clues (is that human blood or stage blood at the crime scenes?) and provides the critical clue about secret identity of the killer (hint: he’s a method actor).

Delightfully, the episode also positions Emma Hollis as that archetypal slasher movie character: the Final Girl. The final girl -- a term created by Carol J. Clover -- is “chased, cornered, wounded…but she alone also finds the strength either to stay the killer long enough to be rescued (Ending A) or to kill him herself (Ending B).” (Carol J. Clover. Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton University Press, 1992, page 35).

In “Thirteen Years Later’s” tense finale, after the killings are believed to be over, the real killer threatens Emma in her hotel room while she is alone, and she must summon the strength and composure to defeat him…even if he sounds an awful lot like her beloved mentor, Frank Black. She succeeds ably and proves her worth as a horror movie Final Girl.

By co-opting the crime in the past, the organizing principle, the victim pool and the Final Girl character from the Slasher Paradigm, “Thirteen Years Later” emerges as a full-on, affectionate celebration of the slasher genre. The segment’s best scene, not coincidentally, involves Frank Black’s lightning fast, unimpressed (but impressive…) psychological profile of such slasher film icons as Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and even Norman Bates.

We’ve all seen these films and these characters over and over again – and cherished them – and yet Frank comes in -- and after watching only a little clip from each film -- diagnoses these Bogeymen in the most nonplussed and clinical (and therefore amusing) manner imaginable. This is a terrific moment, and one that reveals how adeptly Lance Henriksen broaches humor in what many viewers might perceive as an essentially humorless role. He plays the scene straight, thereby allowing the audience to detect the humor for itself instead of camping-it-up and going for obvious laughs. The moment is funny because Frank accomplishes in mere moments what a century of film heroes, psychologists and final girls cannot: he unearths the motivations for the seemingly unstoppable silver screen slashers.

The self-reflexive component of “Thirteen Years Later,” largely emerges – Kevin Williamson-style -- in the number and specificity of the horror movie allusions. The episode tags not only Psycho, Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, it pauses to remember The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Omen (1976), Motel Hell (1980) and The Hitcher (1987). The killer re-creates the chainsaw attack from Leatherface’s film, and the severed finger in a lunch meal, from The Hitcher, to offer some specifics.

But most interesting, perhaps, is one relatively obscure literary reference seeded into the proceedings. Specifically, a relaxing Emma Hollis is seen reading an interesting book: Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths (1962).

This is a critically-feted collection of short stories by a celebrated modernist who subscribed to the theory that anarchy and chaos dominate the world; and who, on several occasions, actually wrote “hoax” reviews of literary works that did not actually exist…by authors that likewise, did not exist.

Ultimately then, author Borges played with literary form in the same fashion that “Thirteen Years Later” plays with cinematic or visual form. The episode is about a killer who has no understandable pattern, but who is making a movie (that doesn’t exist) about a historical case (that also doesn’t exist). This is a fake form referencing a fake form, referencing a fake event. You can’t get much more post-modern than that.

In terms of visuals “Thirteen Years Later” also deliberately apes the slasher milieu. The installment opens with imagery reminiscent of Psycho: a shower-head facing the camera (screen-wise above and before the audience), a playful composition which makes the audience remember Janet Leigh’s infamous stay at the Bates Motel and ultimately puts us in the shower.

The film’s first death set-piece then co-mingles stage-blood and real human blood; a visual metaphor for a twisting narrative which purposefully blends “the reality” of Frank’s old case with the illusions produced by commercial Hollywood,

After the action settles down in Trinity, South Carolina (a town named after the central location of the 1995 Sam Raimi/Shaun Cassidy horror serial, American Gothic), the visuals grow increasingly claustrophobic. By the time of the climax, in which Emma is imperiled, tight horror movie-styled framing rules the day. Thanks to accomplished director Thomas J. Wright, we get some lovely close-ups of Scott, and Emma’s space in the frame is increasingly restricted, bracketed on both sides by encroaching door frames and other objects.

In some ways, “Thirteen Years Later” feels like an atypical, out-of-step installment of the very serious Millennium. But digging a little deeper, one detects how the episode’s crazy killer echoes the modus operandi of previous serial killers seen on the program, only with a horror movie twist.

And more so, the self-reflexive, post-modern message -- epitomized by the presence of that book, Labyrinths -- reveals much about the episode’s intelligent approach. Trying to determine reality and not artifice in “Thirteen Years Later” is enough to make even the stalwart Frank Black go insane, for the third time in his life.

Two severed thumbs up?

Halloween Week: Tuesday - Here's My Thing!

Two goodies for Tuesday: we have another of DiRT's wonderful video reviews in Here's My Thing--this week, unsurprisingly, focused on the third season Halloween episode "Thirteen Years Later"--and secondly a nice Halloweeny wallpaper to adorn you desktop! So, without further ado...

DiRT's Review - Thirteen Years Later

Halloween Week: Monday #2 - Competition and Trivia Challenge!

In the episode we’re celebrating this week, “Thirteen Years Later,” dark fantasy and reality collide as Frank Black and Emma Hollis struggle to stop a killer whose methods at first follow the script of the movie his victims are making and who then turns to mimicking horror classics that are airing on television in the run-up to Halloween.

In dubious honor of this madcap killing spree and in celebration of the Halloween season, Back to Frank Black has a brand new competition for you! What we would like you to do is search the deepest recesses of your psyche and consider your answer to the following question:

Which famous fictional killer from film or television would you most like to be and why?

All you need to do is send your response to us by e-mail at info@backtofrankblack.com. Make sure your e-mail is titled “Halloween Week Competition” and that you include your full name. Your entry must reach us by midnight on Halloween, October 31st. The Back to Frank Black team will judge the entries on creativity and originality and the winner will receive a DVD copy of Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue--the fantastic, blood-drenched horror documentary written and produced by Joe Maddrey and narrated by Lance Henriksen. This prize will be signed by both Maddrey and Henriksen!

Good luck to all! We look forward to being deeply disturbed by your entries.

As a companion piece to this competition and a means of prolonging our holiday entertainment, we’d also like to torment our faithful readers with thirteen fiendishly difficult trivia questions tied to “Thirteen Years Later.” No prizes will be awarded for this lot, just the guarantee of hair-raising fun as we invite you to examine this unforgettable installment of Millennium. Stay sharp during your annual viewing of “Thirteen Years Later” and search this week’s essays, interviews, and video tributes for clues. We’ll provide the answers to each of the thirteen questions right here on the blog this Sunday--Halloween! Good luck!

1. This Halloween episode acts as an outright celebration of slasher cinema, featuring no less than seven on-screen references to classic horror movies. List them.

2. Lance Henriksen stands as a legendary figure in the history of the horror genre. Which of the horror franchises cited in “Thirteen Years Later” can be tied to the prolific star’s resume?

3. A legend informs us that the events of “Thirteen Years Later” take place in the town of Trinity, South Carolina, linking this episode to what cult horror television series?

4. It’s clear that Frank Black doesn’t much care for horror films; he tells his partner that he prefers detective stories. What detective movie does Emma Hollis, the horror movie buff, cite as her personal favorite?

5. During a quiet moment, the clearly multi-faceted Emma Hollis balances her fangirlish fervor for slasher flicks by relaxing in a bubble bath with a classic work of literature. What book is Emma immersed in?

6. “Thirteen Years Later” features a guest performance by KISS and, notably, includes the band’s members both in and out of their famous stage make-up. Who are the four founding members of KISS and what cameo roles do they play in this episode?

7. KISS provide an energetic performance of the title track from their 1998 album Psycho Circus, a song that reached number one on Billboard’s chart of Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. What other KISS song--like “Psycho Circus,” recorded by the band’s original line-up--is referenced in the episode?

8. Faithful viewers would do well to heed this episode’s cautionary epigraph: “Never believe anything you see on Halloween.” The point is emphasized by the fact that the quote was fabricated for the story by writer Michael R. Perry. Who is the “Reverend” M. Goodman granted tribute with the quotation?

9. This episode allowed director Thomas J. Wright to pay visual homage to a number of classic horror movies and genre motifs. On which big screen horror flick, a veritable modern classic, did Wright join more than a half-dozen other Millennium alums?

10. In spite of Peter Watts’s obvious absence from this episode, what scary screen credit connects Millennium stars Lance Henriksen and Terry O’Quinn with guest star Jeff Yagher? (Need a hint? Add “Omerta” guest star Jon Polito to the mix, too!)

11. Killer Marc Bianco is responsible for slaughtering eight victims during the filming of Madman Maniac. Which characters uttered these unwitting last words on-screen before meeting their bloody end at the hands of the episode’s chameleonic killer? A) “That’d be me.” B) “Here’s to us.” C) “This is the movie Frank Black didn’t want you to see.” D) “I don’t need a bunch of hot-head actors thinking that we don’t have the rights to the story here.” E) “Lew?” F) “This movie’s not over!”

12. Frank Black’s behavior is admittedly somewhat… uncharacteristic in this madcap installment. What action connects the following seemingly disparate episodes of Millennium? “The Beginning and the End,” “Beware of the Dog,” “Roosters,” “TEOTWAWKI,” “Thirteen Years Later,” “Goodbye to All That.”

13. In “Thirteen Years Later,” a criminal investigation conducted by Frank Black crosses with the entertainment industry, but not for the first time. Can you name a Millennium episode in which... A) Frank Black visits an office decorated with movie posters B) Frank channel surfs in bed C) Frank peruses a serial killer’s videocassette collection D) Frank visits the set of a television series E) Frank glimpses a television pilot produced by Glen Morgan and James Wong?

Halloween Week: Monday #1 - Thomas J Wright Speaks!

Halloween Week kicks off with a fascinating little directorial insight into Millennium's season three Halloween episode, "Thirteen Years Later," courtesy of Thomas J. Wright!

So without further ado...

Those who have purchased our iPhone App will also get an exclusive iPhone wallpaper, Halloween image and bonus audio feature!

Download directly:

Available on iTunes: search for "BacktoFrankBlack" or "Millennium Group Sessions" and click subscribe!

Halloween Week begins today!

Welcome to the first day of Halloween week, or Hallowe'en week, if one prefers!

We have days upon days of features for you, a happy holiday before the campaign moves out into the world once more. Hallowe'en week will bring you Thomas J. Wright, Jeff Yagher, John Kenneth Muir, Dirt, What The Killer Sees, Joselyn's Eye, plus trivia and prizes!

We'll be kicking off the day with our trivia quiz and our Millennium Group Sessions chat with Thomas J. Wright -- and listen out for a very exciting change to how Millennium Group Sessions presents itself!

Watch the blog. Watch Facebook. Watch Twitter. Enjoy the week!