A college student returning home to take over the family hardware store for his father, who has recently been badly injured. He quickly develops a mutual crush on Sandy, a high school senior. After finding someone's ear in the grass, he dives into a mystery hidden beyond the town's sparkly surface and gets in way over his head.
- Amateur Sleuth: Through his own curiosity, he stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy and decides to investigate it.
- Author Avatar: For Mr. Lynch himself, in how he behaves, looks and dresses.
- Determinator: He becomes fixated on finding out the mystery of the ear, which leads to Dorothy Vallens, who starts spying on.
- Easily Forgiven: By Sandy when his and Dorothy's affair is thrown out into the open.
- Nice Guy: He generally goes out of his way to be kind to people. He assures Dorothy he definitely doesn't hate her and quickly accepts Sandy's boyfriend's apology for trying to beat him up.
A mentally unhinged club singer who becomes a deranged man's virtual sex slave to protect her husband and son. She has an affair with Jeffrey.
- Betty and Veronica: A much darker version than usual but Dorothy is nonetheless the Veronica to Sandy's Betty.
- Broken Bird: She's already quite broken by the time the movie starts.
- The Chanteuse: She sings in a nightclub every night.
- Damsel in Distress: She is reduced to sex slavery by Frank. She is totally helpless. The film is about Jeffrey's attempt to help her.
- Light Feminine Dark Feminine: Dark to Sandy's Light. It even shows in their hair colors.
- Sex Slave: Frank has forced her to be his by holding her husband and son's lives over her head.
A depraved drug dealer who keeps Dorothy Vallens as his sex slave.
- Anything That Moves: His exact words.
- Ax-Crazy: Will murder, mutilate or batter at the slightest provocation. Merely being in the same room as him is a hazard in itself.
- Big Bad: He's the source of everything going wrong in the story.
- Boom, Headshot!: Jeffrey blows the back of his head off.
- Cloudcuckoolander: And far from the pleasant kind.
- Depraved Bisexual: He smears lipstick on to kiss Jeffrey all over the face with and calls his butt cute before trying to kill him. The original screenplay heavily implies that Frank raped Jeffrey during the aforementioned incident.
- Evil Wears Black: He always dress in black.
- Fetish: He has a thing for blue velvet, the song as well as the cloth. He likes to hear Dorothy sing the former and dress in the latter, he clearly gets a kick out of from sucking on velvet during sex, and he even carries around a small piece of velvet on his person.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Raging at someone or something is practically his default state. It's easier to count the times he appears almost calm.
- I Have Your Wife: He holds Dorothy's husband and son hostage, and uses this to extorting her into having sadomasochistic sex with him, and even mutilates her husband to intimidate her further.
- Jerkass: And that's one of the nicest terms to describe him.
- Large Ham: The terrifying, psychotic variation.
- Oedipus Complex: Frank seems to fit the diagnosis as he sees Dorothy as his "mommy" and switches between the personas of "baby" and "daddy" as he rapes her.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Not only is a sadistic psycho, he's also a violent, depraved rapist.
- Satanic Archetype: Possibly. Frank is either a symbolic representation of evil, the Devil incarnate, or simply a psychopathic criminal.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Frank's insanity is highlights by his colorful dialogue, which is full of f-bombs and just as unhinged as he is.
- The Sociopath: One of the most terrifying examples that cinema has given us. For him, committing acts of violence is as normal as breathing.
- Vader Breath: Frank breathes through a gas mask when he is about to make something evil.
- Betty and Veronica: Wholesome, sweet Sandy is the Betty to Dorothy's dark, sexual Veronica.
- Break the Cutie: When she finds out Jeffrey has slept with Dorothy.
- Girl Next Door: Sandy is litteraly one for Jeffey. She is the "Betty" in the love triangle.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Light to Dorothy's Dark.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold
- Nice Girl: She's sweet and very quick to want to help Dorothy when Frank's badly hurt her.