|An iconic moment in The Warriors.|
|Making sandwich eating look diabolical.|
It is interesting to consider the reasons someone like Kelly would be chosen for these roles and interesting to consider why the same visual cues reoccur. Since the meaning of masculinity is often not examined at length, these most rigid ideals of masculinity are simply accepted without question. The concept of maleness in the 1980s was placed in the physical realm, the hulking male physique a kind of conduit for the values of the day. Kelly was cast as criminals, weirdos, psychopaths and psychics. His characters were others in a world dominated by uncomplicated men. Their weirdness, their darkness were an affront to the norms of the day. More to the point, there is the sense of amorality to them. In The Warriors, Luther (Kelly) kills Cyrus because "he just likes doing things like that." In Commando, Kelly plays Sully, a criminal who drives a flashy car, wears even flashier clothes, harasses women and when rebuffed refers to them as "fucking whores." In the 80s film, it is only the villain, for the most part, who gets to be overtly sexual. Yet it is made evident that the villain's sexuality is excessive, abnormal and a threat. In Dreamscape, Kelly is a bad guy named Tommy Ray Glatman-- a man who can enter people's dreams and turn them into nightmares so frightening they lead to the death of the dreamer. Here we see unconventionality conflated with the otherworldly. In nearly every film, these characters were always killed by the hero or confined by him.
In these films, goodness and evil are clearly delineated. Furthermore, the very marginal nature of these characters against the upstanding main character is suggestive. They can never be normal, upright, upstanding so the only recourse for the good guy is the ultimate destruction of the bad guy. In Commando, John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) dispatches Sully by holding him up with one hand by his ankle and dropping him off a cliff. In this scene, Schwarzenegger's massive size is in direct comparison to the much smaller Kelly. There is no subtlety within this moment. It reveals that Sully, a true bad guy, is no physical match for the true goodness of Matrix.
David Patrick Kelly's villains were hopeless. There was no going back for them, they were joyously and irretrievably bad. To his credit, Kelly was able to take on roles that in lesser hands might have rung false and was able to imbue them with spark, a feeling. At the same time, his villainous roles were an integral part of these films as they gave 80s action star a true enemy to deal with.