Halloween must surely be the best time of year to appreciate the weirdness that David Lynch has brought to the world. But how do you pick the weirdest, spookiest and downright demented characters of the bunch? Here’s our attempt to quantify a world of dwarves, deformed babies and elephant men into just 10 definitive weirdos.
And if you feel like really getting into character this Halloween, join us for a spooky screening of Eraserhead, followed by a Lynch-themed costume party replete with donuts. More about that here.
10. Henry Spencer (Eraserhead)
Long-rumoured to be based on Lynch’s fear of fatherhood, Eraserhead‘s Henry Spencer might be the weirdest Everyman ever committed to film. Instantly recognisable, thoroughly sympathetic and yet undeniably strange, he’s as abstracted as one of Lynch’s paintings.
Memorable line: “So I just, uh…cut them up like regular chickens?”
2. The Cowboy (Mulholland Drive)
In what might be the strangest of many strange moments in Mulholland Drive, the mysterious cowboy appears to director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) to urge him to make the right casting choice in his movie, threatening frightening consequences if he doesn’t.
Memorable line: “You’re not thinking. You’re too busy being a smart Alec.”
8. John Merrick (The Elephant Man)
One of Lynch’s few brushes with biography, John Merrick is based on Joseph Merrick, the Victorian “Elephant Man”. John Hurt’s moving performance brings life to this character of a total reject, whose deformities don’t stop him being utterly charming and predictably: heartbreaking.
Memorable line: “I am not an animal! I’m a human being!”
7. Lady in The Radiator (Eraserhead)
The strange bearded apparition that appears to Henry Spencer in Eraserhead is one of Lynch’s most enigmatic females. With a blonde Betty Page haircut, sideburns and a sweet, child-like singing voice, she embodies the director’s cross-cultural notions of sex and femininity.
Memorable line: “In heaven/Everything is fine!/You’ve got your good things/And I’ve got mine!”
6. Dorothy Vallens (Blue Velvet)
Memorable line: “Do you like the way I feel?”
5. The Baby (Eraserhead)
Let’s be honest: that baby is bloody weird. What the prop people made it out of is one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets, but whatever the case, the howling and deformed infant is intensely unsettling.
Memorable line: Nyeeeeeeeehhhh!
4. Sailor Ripley (Wild at Heart)
Nic Cage and David Lynch were always going to make an interesting partnership. It’s no surprise, then, than Cage’s performance as Sailor Ripley, who runs away with Lulu (Laura Dern) to escape her murderous mother, is brilliantly weird.
Memorable line: “This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality, and my belief…in personal freedom.”
3. Bobby Peru (Wild at Heart)
Willem Defoe gives one of his strangest performances as Bobby Peru, the ex-Marine with braces who’s hired to kill Sailor. Perfectly embodying the oddball, sideshow-esque approach Lynch has to casting gangsters, he’s nothing if not memorable.
Memorable line: “I’m just gonna piss in the toilet. Y’all take a listen, you’ll hear the deep sound comin’ down from Bobby Peru.”
2. The Log Lady (Twin Peaks)
While multiple Twin Peaks characters could have made this list, The Log Lady stands out from the crowd. Whilst not threatening, she has an inherent mystery that is almost frustratingly compelling.
Memorable line: “I do not introduce the log.”
1. Frank Booth (Blue Velvet)
Possibly the most demented villain ever captured on camera, Frank Booth is the permanently intoxicated, sweary baddie of Blue Velvet who taunts Dorothy and takes a disliking to Jeffery (Kyle MacLachlan). Powered by Dennis Hopper’s insane performance, he takes meaningless violence to a new level.
Memorable line: “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!”