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(Credit: Manchester International Festival)

Film

Revisit David Lynch's forgotten HBO classic 'Hotel Room'

@Russellisation

With one of the most illustrious filmographies in all of cinema, David Lynch is a filmmaker held in the highest of regards thanks to his significant impact on the medium with experimental creations such as Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and, of course, his cultural TV powerhouse, Twin Peaks. Though whilst the thrills of Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper and the charming life of Twin Peaks have certainly gained mass popularity, unusually, his lesser-known HBO series Hotel Room has long gone uncelebrated. 

Airing only for three half-hour episodes on HBO from 8th January 1993, Hotel Room was created by Monty Montgomery and David Lynch, with each separate self-contained drama starring a different cast whilst remaining in the same hotel room number 603 of the New York City-based ‘Railroad Hotel’. Created to be shown together as a feature-length pilot, unfortunately, HBO never commissioned Lynch to create more episodes. 

It was following the competition of the second series of Twin Peaks that Lynch decided to take a step back and explore other projects, taking on the short anthology series to distract him from the turbulence of Twin Peaks. In typical Lynch fashion, Hotel Room features a surreal affair of events, with each of the three episodes taking place in a different time period. Episode one, Tricks is set in 1969 follows a man and a hooker, the second episode Getting Rid Of Robert set in 1992 tells the story of a breakup, whilst the third and final episode Blackout follows a couple navigating a hotel power cut. 

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With classic Lynchian actors Crispin Glover and Harry Dean Stanton appearing throughout the series, Hotel Room is a captivating watch that should be uttered in the same breath as Twin Peaks. Starting with narration from David Lynch, the introduction states, “For a millennium, the space for the hotel room existed, undefined. Mankind captured it, and gave it shape and passed through. And sometimes when passing through, they found themselves brushing up against the secret names of truth”.

It’s an eerie, atmospheric introduction that well sets up the haunting series itself, featuring hotel staff that never age and cast members who drift around the set like distant spectres. 

Each episode of Hotel Room is like a self-contained play, each with its own tone and atmosphere, with Blackout starring Crispin Glover and Trick with Harry Dean Stanton standing out as the best episodes of the mini series. Carrying many of the director’s themes and obsessions though Hotel Room was unfortunately never picked up for a longer run of episodes, it certainly still remains an enthralling watch from the mind of a true experimental creative. 

Better still, the whole series is available to watch online, check out the intro for David Lynch’s forgotten series right here. 

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