Discuss this Article!
2011 was the year of silence. The black and white silent film The Artist was recognized for the most Academy Awards with 10 separate nominations and veteran actor Max von Sydow nabbed himself a Best Supporting Nomination for his role as the non-talking Renter in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. In these cases, silence might indeed be golden.
As popular as this movement may be, we here at Killer Reviews believe that less than 1% of our members have screened Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and even less have any desire to have the DVD in their possession when released - even if the film goes on to sweep the awards season podium.
But that does not suggest that our fan base does not appreciate silence in films. In fact, many of our favorite characters of all-time have hardly, if ever, spoken a word. So why not a Top 10 list? A Top 10 Favorite Characters That Don’t Speak. To ensure our list didn’t go off the rails, we decided to only include characters that are human, or at least human-ish. That meant we didn’t have to worry about the Wilson volleyball in Castaway, King Kong or Alien. Next, we wanted to make sure that character had a functional or purposeful role in the film. And lastly, we wanted to ensure that the character communicated without words. Grunts were ok, but any hint at a coherent sentence would render the submission invalid.
Enough explanation! On with the list. Here are our Favorite 10 Movie Characters That Don’t Speak:
10. The Feral Kid from The Road Warrior (1981)
Played by then 8-year-old Emil Minty, The Feral Kid was the small boy with a nasty boomerang that took a liking to Mel Gibson’s Mad Max. The Feral Kid was able to grunt for communication and appreciated simpler things - such as a small music box thrown to him by our hero. But the child did not have a single line of English dialogue in the film and had to rely on his facial expressions to convey his sentiments.
9. Bernie from Weekend at Bernies (1989)
Bernie (Terry Kiser) wasn’t always unable to speak. At the beginning of this sequeled comedy, he talked. In fact, he talked a lot. But when Bernie is killed in a ludicrous comedic plot, well, his dialogue pages end there. Bernie makes our list because he becomes a more interesting and involved character only after he is unable to speak. His two employees, played by Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy spend the rest of the film carrying around Bernie’s corpse pretending that their employer is still alive. Only then does Bernie become the life of the party.
8. Lindsay, Jenny from The Human Centipede (2009)
Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie had lines in the first reel of the controversial film from Tom Six that shocked audiences worldwide. But after Dr. Heiter attached them and fellow actor Akihiro Kitamura together in a gross ass to mouth experiment making a self-explaining human centipede, their chances of calling for help were over. The two actresses were not going to win any Academy Awards had they continued to flap their gums, so it was for the best and it was their moments without dialogue that I will always cherish.
7. Oddjob from Goldfinger (1964)
Often imitated, but never matched, Oddjob was Auric Goldfinger’s man-servant and was played mutifully (I made that up) by Harold Sakata. Sakata was a pro wrestler and an Olympic weightlifter who accepted the role as the non-speaking muscle and was a master at throwing his razor sharp bowler hat. Maybe not the best henchman in the Bond universe, but clearly one of our favorites.
6. Kenny McCormick from South Park: Bigger Louder & Uncut (1999)
Poor ole Kenny. Almost every episode of the Comedy Central series South Park, Kenny somehow finds a way to get himself killed. He’s been beaten, run over, chopped, mowed and even cut in half. And after each demise, a South Park character can be heard proclaiming, "Oh my God! They/you/he/she/I/we killed Kenny!" and "(You) bastard(s)!". Kenny might have something to say about all his gruesome carnage had he not had an orange parka tied so tightly around his head that he can’t talk (or at least be understood).
5. Silent Bob from Clerks (1994)
Director Kevin Smith cast himself as Silent Bob in a series of films that began with Clerks back in 1994. Silent Bob’s best bud Jay (Jason Mewes) does all the talking and Silent Bob is usually seen just dancing, reacting or smoking to very little consequence. Silent Bob did get some lines in 1997’s Chasing Amy where he was able to spew wisdom to fellow friend Holden (Ben Affleck) but for the most part through Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Chasing Amy and Clerks II, Silent Bob remains, well, silent.
4. Michael Myers from Halloween (1978)
Putting a serial killer on the list opens up a can of worms (and he might not the only one represented wink wink nod nod). Still, Michael Myers was a master of his craft. He went about his business without saying a word. Even when he was shot, stabbed and thrown out of windows, he barely made a sound.
3. Chief Bromden from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
A Native American himself, Will Sampson got his big break when he was cast as Chief Bromden alongside Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Chief Bromden was a towering figure in the mental institution that housed him and Nicholson’s character McMurphy did everything he could to involve Chief in their daily activities. Yes, a stick of gum gets him to say a sentence, but he is mute for 98% of the movie.
2. A Creation from Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The cult classic film, Rocky Horror Picture Show was filled with memorable off-beat characters. Transvestites, Transylvanian servants, tap dancing groupies and mad scientists were all part of musical comedy that was based on a British rock musical stageplay. One such character from the ensemble was ‘A Creation’ played by Peter Hinwood. A Creation was brought to life by Dr. Frank-N-Furter and was a muscular blonde Adonis type character that fits in quite nicely with a group of the most eccentric and homoerotic characters this side of a Time Warp. No other written description could do the character justice.
1. Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th
You would think that getting the part of Jason Voorhees in any of the Friday the 13th films would be a walk-in-the-woods. After all, Jason never talks. Never. Not through some 11 films. And although that can be said of many of the serial killers that have graced our theatre screens, Jason stands out as the most recognizable and iconisized (another word I just made up) of them all. Jason killed without remorse. There were no quick puns or quips at the end of each brutal killing. Just blood and death. Jason was a genius in the art of brutality and never discriminated against his prey. We knew little about Jason except for small tidbits on how he drowned at Camp Crystal Lake while the teenage camp councilors were busy trying to get laid. But that is all we need to know. Jason let his machete do the talking. And it talked a lot!