Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson Pays Tribute to the Great David Patrick Kelly
Unless you are a fan, there is a chance you do not know his name, but there is a better than not chance that you do know his work. David Patrick Kelly has made a career of scene-stealing performances. He is that guy that shows up in so many great cult films with some of the most memorable, and oft times villainous, characters in film.
The Warriors (1979) – Based on the novel by Sol Yurick, which was inspired by the ancient Greek tale Xebophon’s Anabasis, The Warriors is about a street gang caught far from home who are framed for the murder of an influential gang leader and how they fight their way across strange and dangerous territory to get back to the safety of their home turf. It features one David Patrick Kelly as Luther, the leader of the Rogues, a rival gang and the ones who actually frame the Warriors for murder.
This classic cult film is full of colorful characters, visceral action, comic book style pacing, and incredible music. Even if you aren’t familiar with the movie, which spawned the 2013 comic book sequel – Jailbreak – surely you must be familiar with Kelly’s Luther clanking bottles together and hauntingly taunting “Warriors come out to play…,” a phrase that is firmly in the lexicon of modern day pop culture.
Dreamscape (1984) – Before Inception, even before A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dreamscape explored the dreamrealm and those that have the power to influence it. David Patrick Kelly plays Tommy, an assassin capable of enter a person’s dreams where he has macabre, sinister powers. Dennis Quaid plays a man with the same abilities who tries to stop Tommy from murdering the President of the United States in his sleep.
Dreamscape is a highly underrated sci-fi/horror that was way ahead of its time and features an amazing cast of characters, not the least of which is the incredible David Patrick Kelly’s villainous Tommy.
Commando (1985) – After winning the Mr. Olympia seven times and with films like Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator already under his belt, Arnold Schwarzenegger was already on the fast track to becoming a mega star by 1985. In this film, co-written by comic book legend Jeph Loeb (Batman: Hush, The Long Halloween), David Patrick Kelly plays a weaselly and creepy thug named Sully. Arnold’s super soldier, John Matrix, uses one hand to hold the villain by an ankle out over a deep ravine, as he extorts information, reminding Sully that he is using his “weak arm.” Once he gets the information he asks if the villain remembers that he promised to kill him last. After Sully desperately tries to hold Matrix to his word, a brilliant performance by Kelly by the way, Matrix simply replies, “I lied.” And drops Sully to his doom.
Sully’s demise helps produce one of the funniest and memorable one-liners of the 1980s, the decade known for its action films and one-liners.
Twin Peaks (1990-1991) – Kelly plays Jerry, the younger brother of Ben Horne, the owner of the Great Northern Hotel, a central location where many pivotal scene for the series takes place. Like a tornado, he appears, bringing with him an infectious energy that raises the level of everyone in the scene. Though he does not appear in every episode, Jerry’s devil-may-care and life-of-the-party attitude leaves the audience chomping at the bit waiting for his next appearance.
Kelly’s Jerry Horne is a standout character amongst a cast of extraordinary characters.
The Crow (1994) – Based a seminal work in comic books by James O’ Barr. It is a cult classic film, and one of the Odinson’s Top 5 All-Time favorite movies. David Patrick Kelly plays the murderous T-Bird, the leader of the gang of thugs that murder the young couple Eric Draven and Shelly Webster, setting in motion the events of this gothic, supernatural, revenge story.
From his customized car, a 1973 Ford Thunderbird, to distracting his henchmen, getting them to Fire it up! while he accesses the secret lock that opens the car door, there are so many wonderful subtle details in Kelly’s T-Bird that make him an All-Time great character. His expertise with explosives and firearms come in handy as one of Top Dollar’s top enforcers and front man for the infamous Devil’s Night fires. Though it is never stated, it wouldn’t be a huge leap to assume T-Bird probably has military training in his past.
And, ultimately T-Bird has one of the most spectacular villain deaths in cinema history, as he and his car go out in a fiery explosion while Eric Draven ignites the symbol of the Crow in their wake.
Honorable mentions include 1982’s 48 Hours where Kelly plays the in-over-his-head, smalltime con also named Luther, 1990’s modern day noir comedy/mystery The Adventures of Ford Fairlane where Kelly plays a creepy stalker that learns the error of his ways by the end of the film, and 2014’s John Wick where Kelly plays the discreet and professional cleaner, Charlie.
These are all great cult films that belong in every film fan’s DVD collection, and whether it’s as the obstacle our hero has to overcome or a scene-stealing cameo, David Patrick Kelly has provided us with some of the most memorable characters in Cult Film History.
The Odinson salutes David Patrick Kelly, a cult film and pop culture treasure. Thank you for all the wonderful and colorful characters you have brought us over the years.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.