"Thirteen Years Later"

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Written by Michael R. Perry

Directed by Thomas J. Wright

Edited by James Coblentz

Aired October 30, 1998

Summary: Bizarre murders disrupt the filming of a movie based on a grisly case from Frank Black's past as he and Emma Hollis visit the set—and encounter the rock band Kiss.

 

  Season Three on DVD

 

Quote:  "Never believe anything you see on Halloween." —Reverend M. Goodman, October 31, 1985

 

Synopsis:  Inside an F.B.I. classroom, a lecturer addresses a roomful of attentive agents. Though we do not see the speaker's face, we hear Frank Black's voice describing a horrific murder case, one that happened during the week just before Halloween.

In flashback, Frank and Emma are summoned to a motel in Trinity, South Carolina. The pair meets with Sheriff Fritz Neuenschwander, who walks them through a murder scene. The sheriff explains that two individuals, actress Marta Danbury and director Lew Carroll, were both viciously murdered inside their room. Both were in town filming a small B-movie on a nearby soundstage. 

Shortly thereafter, Frank, Emma and the sheriff travel to the soundstage, where they observe several actors and a film crew shooting a picture which, it turns out, is based on a murder case Frank investigated thirteen years earlier. Frank is offended when he realizes that most of the factual evidence in the case is being completely ignored in favor of sensationalism. Frank and Emma interview the principles, as many had a motive for the killings.

Among them is producer Kenny Neiderman, who had been sleeping with Marta Danbury; Rowdy Beeman, who suddenly rose to the rank of director upon Lew Carroll's demise; actress Ruby Dahl, whose role was drastically expanded to compensate for Danbury; Sir Douglas Latham, an aging British stage actor; Sara Cryer, the film's unit publicist; John and Don, the film's screenwriters, who were displeased with Carroll's take on their screenplay; flirtatious star Ramona Tangent; and Mark Bianco, a method actor who portrays Frank Black in the film. Also included on the suspect list is Hugo Winston, whose fiancie was murdered by the killer thirteen years earlier. Hugo declares that the production desecrates the name of the deceased. 

Most of the crew members gather to watch the filming of a scene in which Ruby Dahl goes skinny-dipping in a pool. Once the scene is photographed, the crew assembles around folding tables where a caterer distributes sandwiches. As the director bites into his sandwich, he realizes that the "meat" is, in fact, a human finger. Rowdy recognizes a ring on the severed digit, and proclaims that producer Niederman has been killed. 

Despite protests from an irate cast and crew, the sheriff closes down the shoot. Meanwhile, Emma speculates that the murderer may be using classic horror films as the inspiration for the manner in which he kills. The pair conclude that the suspect may strike at the motel where the crew is staying. A figure lures them upon the roof of the building, where they discover body of publicist Sara Cryer dangling upside down from a rope, a death that mirrors killings seen in the films Halloween and Friday the 13th. Meanwhile, one of the film's extras, a man named Hector, confesses to the crimes. Frank destroys his credibility. Nonetheless, the mayor proclaims that production may resume. 

Frank and Emma realize that horror films were playing on television on the nights of all the murders. The pair consult a television listing and discover that the film Motel Hell is being broadcast that evening. They race to the soundstage, where it is discovered that several members of the crew had their vocal cords severed, a la Motel Hell. Frank also discovers Hugo Winston, his body hanging by the neck, a butcher knife nearby. 

Frank finds it difficult to believe that Hugo is the killer. Emma consults the television listings, but because it is Halloween, the airwaves are filled with movie marathons, making it impossible to predict how the killer will strike next. Emma stays at the hotel to watch television, hoping for some insight into how the murderer thinks. Meanwhile, Frank drives back to the soundstage, where the crew films a climactic scene set at a nightclub. He scrutinizes his surroundings as movie extras dressed in Halloween costumes mill about the sound stage. Suddenly, Sheriff Neuenschwander's corpse crashes down from the rafters. Pandemonium breaks out, and during the confusion, Frank realizes that in most B-movies, the leading lady dies last. But Ramona is spotted nearby, safe and sound. Frank realizes the killer will target Emma.

He races to the motel, where Mark Bianco, armed with a chainsaw, is on the loose. Emma manages to dislodge the device from Bianco's hands. Bianco produces a gun and takes aim at Frank. The pair circle on another, guns drawn. Bianco explains that, as the consummate professional actor, he wanted to be Frank to see what the killer saw. Frank manages to get off a shot, and a wounded Bianco falls to the ground. 

Back at the F.B.I. classroom, the lecturer concludes his story. But we see that the speaker is not Frank Black. It is Mark Bianco. And his audience is not comprised of F.B.I. agents, but of fellow inmates inside an insane asylum.

Photographs:

- Marta Danbury and Lew Carroll

- Danbury and Carroll play with fake blood

- A pair of Trinity police officers

- The disembodied finger found at lunch

- Actor Mark Bianco as Frank Black

- Murder suspect Hector Leachman

- KISS performs for the film's finale

- Frank Black faces off against his double

- Frank poses with the members of KISS

 

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Media Review:  "['Thirteen Years Later,'] which included cameos by the rock band KISS, the shower scene from Psycho, and Jorge Luis Borges' short-story collection Labyrinths, was wacky, but at its core was a good murder plot as solidly constructed as an old episode of Columbo." —Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

 

"'Thirteen Years Later' is the third season's comic mission statement, an installment featuring murder, mayhem, and the rock band KISS that, much like the show's circular snake symbol, eats its own tail to the point of existential absurdity." —Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

 

"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... Two severed thumbs up?" —John Kenneth Muir, Reflections on Film and Television

 

Trivia: "Thirteen Years Later" is noteworthy in that it is arguably the only episode of the series to feature major celebrities in guest starring roles. The Fox network proposed inserting the band members of KISS into an episode of Millennium. While the show's staff was initially resistant to the idea, writer Michael R. Perry realized that KISS might be integrated into his Halloween-themed episode in a manner that would be in keeping with the spirit of the story. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley appear not only in their legendary personas during the sequence featuring the band's song "Psycho Circus," each of the four band members also has an individual cameo during the course of the episode. Simmons appears as Hector Leachman, Stanley as director Lew Carroll, and Criss and Frehley as unnamed police officers.

 

Perry envisioned a brilliant addition to this episode's ending that was, ultimately, conceptualized too late to be included. "The one regret we had in 'Thirteen Years Later' was that we missed a chance to kill both main characters," Perry has said. "Since the entire episode was the ravings of a madman, we could easily have shot and killed both main characters in the climax. Alas, I didn't think of that until we were editing, and at that point we had no money to re-shoot."

 

This episode contains a tribute to one Fox network censor that was particularly cooperative when dealing with the Millennium staff. The quote that begins the episode, credited to Reverend M. Goodman, was created as a deliberate nod to Morry Goodman. Michael R. Perry has noted that Goodman was one of the censors working on the show's third season and that he often gave the series great leeway when it came to presenting the gore, violence, and sexuality inherent to the show's stories.

 

Death Toll:  8

 

Title:  As the episode's title implies, this story takes place thirteen years after Frank Black investigated the murders that inspired the film. The number seems appropriate considering thirteen's superstitious associations.

 

Soundtrack: "Psycho Circus" by KISS

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Klea Scott as Emma Hollis

 

Guest Starring:

Gene Simmons as Himself/Hector Leachman

Paul Stanley as Himself/Lew Carroll

Peter Criss as Himself/Trinity Cop #2

Ace Frehley as Himself/Trinity Cop #1

Jeff Yagher as Mark Bianco

Stefan Arngrim as Hugo Winston

Matthew Walker as Sir Douglas Latham

Morgan Brayton as the Assistant Director

Crystal Cass as Mary O'Flanagan

Cavan Cunningham as John Wang

Andre Danyliu as Mayor Dooley

Guy Fauchon as Movie Sheriff

Dana Grahame as Sarah Cryer

Ted Kozma as Kenny Neiderman

Kate Luyben as Marta Danbury

Jim Pirri as Rowdy Beeman

Tanja Reichert as Ruby Dahl

Donnelley Rhodes as Sheriff Neuenschwander

Edmond Kato Wong as Don Morton
 

Production Credits:

Production #6C05

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Mark Freeborn
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Co-Producer Robert Moresco
Co-Producer Paul Rabwin
Producer Thomas J. Wright
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Chip Johannessen

Executive Producer Michael Duggan

Executive Producer Chris Carter

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