5 TERRIFYINGLY GREAT CHARACTERS IN THE FILMS OF DAVID LYNCH
PUBLISHED 22 AUG 2016
WILD AT HEART
1990 - Bobby Peru
“Say it! I’ll tear your fuckin’ heart out, girl!”
Although Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe) only appears midway through the film, he is one of the most memorable characters. In his first appearance — a scene in Texas full of deranged characters — Bobby almost goes unnoticed, were it not for his repugnant teeth and vague, obscure and inappropriate comments. Nonetheless, his behaviour throughout the film becomes increasingly creepy and intimidating, starting with sexual aggression and ending in murder.
1986 - Frank Booth
“Don't you look at me, fuck! I shoot when I see the whites of the eyes.”
During the majority of the film, Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) fearlessly threatens other characters. He shows a boundless amount of power and no regard for other people’s lives. Even so, he becomes most terrifying when he gets out his oxygen mask, breaths through it and then has an incestuous sexual fantasy with the person he continuously abuses, all the while shouting: “Baby wants to fuck! Baby wants to fuck Blue Velvet!” His many kinks, along with his constant swearing and violent reactions, make this character a pure psychopath.
2001 - Irene
“Remember, I'll be watching for you on the big screen.”
The “Bum” behind Winkie’s Diner (Bonnie Aarons) is often considered by critics to be the most frightening character because of its sudden, terrifying and vile first appearance. The elderly Irene (Jeanne Bates) is also a strong contender. Her “plastic” smile, while it at first resembles the smile of a sweet, loving grandmother, soon imbues the scene in which she first appears with a bizarre atmosphere, which is only heightened when she robotically pats her companion’s leg. We next encounter her much later when she literally frightens one character to death with her wild gesticulations and demonic laughter. Although she is a minor character, her peculiar behaviour and unexplained appearances give the feeling of someone who is possessed by a demon, creating an eeriness that lasts much longer than the jump scare delivered by the Bum.
1977 - Henry’s baby
“I can’t take it anymore! I’m going home!”
At the start of ERASERHEAD, Henry (Jack Nance) impregnates his girlfriend. The baby becomes Henry’s personal nightmare from the day it is born. Its disgusting appearance and constant crying causes his young mother to abandon it, leaving Henry and the baby alone together. Henry’s life is quickly reduced to the task of taking care of a disrespectful baby that is always demanding his attention. The baby manages to ruin Henry’s life all the while looking increasingly like a monster.
2006 - Phantom
“Look for an opening. Do you understand?”
Phantom (Krzysztof Majchrzak) is one of the first characters to be shown and he sporadically continues to appear throughout the film. For the most part, he is unconnected to the main plot until the central character mentions him in a violent story, finally revealing his nickname: “Phantom”. With his weird and at times aggressive way of talking, he exhibits a creepy and powerful aura. As the plot progresses, he seems to take on supernatural powers, being able to influence other people’s behaviour such as making someone commit murder. In the end, he becomes a dangerous, indestructible man with unknown intentions and always wearing a confident and lethal gaze.