David Lynch’s Top 10 Weirdest Characters

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The return of Twin Peaks on Stan reminded us of some of David Lynch’s more bizarre creations down the years. By David Michael Brown.

As the planet prepares to return to the weird and wonderful world of Twin Peaks, all eyes will be on the shows delightfully eccentric director David Lynch and his askew view on the world. While you’re waiting to spend some time with Agent Cooper and co., here are the Top 10 most bizarre characters that have that have leapt out of David Lynch’s brain!

Henry Spencer from Eraserhead

“So I just, uh… I just cut them up like regular chickens?”

David Lynch’s surreal industrial nightmare masquerading as a debut feature, Eraserhead was at the forefront of the midnight movie revolution and remains one of the strangest films ever made. Awesomely bequiffed but excruciatingly awkward misfit Henry Spencer (Lynch regular Jack Nance) has been left to care for his grossly deformed child while hallucinating about a lady living behind his radiator and dreaming that his severed head is being used to make pencil erasers. Alrighty then.

The Log Lady from Twin Peaks

“One day my log will have something to say about this.”

As played by Eraserhead star Catherine E. Coulson, the log Lady is the town of Twin Peaks’ resident weirdo. She hovers in the periphery, offering sage advice to anyone who will listen. The problem is, that advice has been given to her by an inanimate piece of wood that she carries wherever she goes. In one delightfully loopy character, and a log, Lynch created the personification of the entire town.

The Mystery Man from Lost Highway

“Call me. Dial your number. Go ahead.”

After glimpsing his face in a nightmare Bill Pullman’s jazz saxophonist Fred meet’s Robert Blake’s Mystery man in the flesh at a party. With shaved eyebrows, jet black hair, white as death face make-up and rouge; he is one freaky looking chap. As he saunters up to Fred he announces that they have met before. Confused, Fred asks where and the Mystery Man replies in your house. In fact I’m there right now. Call me. Fred calls his own house to talk to the person he is standing opposite. The Mystery Man answers. Cue audience freak out!

Frank Booth from Blue Velvet

“Let’s fuck! I’ll fuck anything that moves!”

Frank Booth (a terrifying Dennis Hopper) is one sick individual. A small-town gangster, pimp, drug-dealer and all-round scumbag, he gets his kicks with a piece of blue velvet material and a gas mask. And kidnapping. He holds Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) to ransom, forcing her to sate his sadomasochistic sexual urges, in exchange for the lives of her husband and son. When Kyle MacLachlan’s Jeffrey, dragged into a seedy criminal underworld when he finds a severed ear in his backlot, comes face-to-face with the ‘devil’, you genuinely fear for his life.

Sailor Ripley from Wild At Heart

“This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality, and my belief…in personal freedom.”

Nicolas Cage’s crazed Elvis obsessed Sailor Ripley is a joyfully wild free spirit who only has eyes for Luna (Laura Dern) and his snakeskin jacket (which was Cage’s own). Based on Barry Gifford’s 1989 novel of the same name, Wild At Heart is Lynch’s take on a deranged road movie via The Wizard Of Oz as the hot-to-trot pair escape the clutches of Luna’s psychotic mother (Diane Ladd). Cage goes into overdrive. Whether crooning to his beloved, robbing banks with Willem Dafoe’s Bobby Peru or moshing to thrash metal; it’s difficult to see where Cage becomes Sailor, and Sailor becomes Cage.

John Merrick from The Elephant Man

“I am not an animal!”

Arguably Lynch’s greatest achievement, The Elephant Man is the tragic story of John Merrick, a lonely soul who was born so severely deformed that he appeared in freak show under the name of the Elephant Man and lived in squalor. Unrecognisable under Chris Tucker’s astonishing make-up, John Hurt gives a career best performance. Despite his disfigurement, Merrick was a man of class and poise and with the help of a kindly professor, played by Anthony Hopkins, he desperately tried to fit in to the ‘normal’ world. But as his worlds collide, the denouement is devastating, the single most heartbreaking moment that Lynch has ever filmed.

The Bum from Mulholland Drive

“Okay, why this Winkie’s?”

Two men sit at a table at Winkies diner. One describes a nightmare he had in the very restaurant they are sitting in. He talks about a strange character he sees behind the diner and how he hopes he will never see that face out of the dream. The pair walk out the diner, nervously approaching the of back of the diner. They slowly edge towards a corner, desperately trying to peak around. Then it happens. The evil hobo (Bonnie Aarons) reveals itself. With piercing yellow eyes, rotted teeth, a filthy black face and matted hair, the figure leers into fear and scares the living daylights out of the men.

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune

“He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!”

Lynch’s divisive adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi tome Dune was full of grotesque characters but none were more repellent than the ruler of the industrial wasteland planet Giedi Prime, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. As played by Kenneth McMillan, Harkonnen is a bloated, morally depraved sadist who floats around in a levitating body suit. His skin is covered in pustules which he regularly has lanced. In one shocking and depraved scene, the Baron kills a slave boy for pleasure.

Jingle Dell from Wild At Heart

“I’m making my lunch!”

As Laura Dern’s Lola lies in bed with Sailor they begin to talk about her family. She reveals that cousin Dell, played in flashback by Crispin Glover, was obsessed with Christmas so they called him Jingle Dell. Dell, who dressed up as Santa for most of the year, thought the spirit of Christmas was destroyed by ideas being controlled by aliens wearing black gloves. He believed the aliens also controlled the rain. He also stayed up all night making sandwiches and put cockroaches in his underwear so he could feel them squirm. It’s a delirious sequence that lasts for less than a minute but Glover’s screaming performance will be seared into your brain.

The Man From Another Place

Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) drifts off to sleep. In his somnolent dream state, he visits a strange red room with zigzag floors. It is the waiting room to the Black Lodge, an extra-dimensional realm where evil dwells. Here Cooper meets The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson), a backward talking dwarf in a sharp red suit with a penchant for finger-clicking jazz. The supernatural groover gets all the best lines, bamboozling Cooper, and the audience, with abstract clues to the burning question… Who killed Laura Palmer?

It Is Happening Again
TWIN PEAKS The Return – 22 May  
Same Day as U.S.
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