Eraserhead (1977)

Director: David Lynch
Starring: John Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts. USA . 1h 49m

A cult classic surreal black and white masterpiece… to some.. But not for me! I’m not going to bullshit, I’ve never been really into Eraserhead, I adore black and white movies and I really love surreal art (something I paint myself) and films. I’ve never been heavily into Lynch and for me this film is creepy, unusual but nothing all that special. I feel that there are two types of surreal movies, the first is a movie which is all out surreal, no easy to follow story line and completely wacky, for argument sake Dali’s Un Chien Andalou (1929), and there are other films which have a pretty liner storyline but just go about it in random ways.. Much like this one.

The first feature length movie from Lynch after a series of shorts, this body horror stars Jack nance as Henry Spencer who is left to care for his deformed child in a strange industrial nightmare landscape.

In heaven everything is fine.. In heaven everything is fine..

Henry is an unusual looking character,  one that has been characterized by many lowbrow artists, especially Travis Louis. The film opens with “the Man of the Planet” pulling levers in his home while Harry’s face floats in the sky and eventually a giant sperm like creature emerges from his mouth and lands in a pool of water.

The film the opens with Henry  in an industrial cityscape, walking home with groceries, the “Girl Next Door” tells him that he’s been invited to his girlfriend, X ()’s place for dinner with her parents. He obliges and has a bizarre dinner, he’s asked to carve the meat which ends in a writhing moaning bloody mess, the facial expressions are awesome, our boy Henry kinda feels the movie along with us. X’s mother tries to seduce him, but he refuses her advances, so she announces that X has given birth to his child. Although she’s not quite sure what she’s given birth to and to be honest, neither am I so here’s a visual.

The couple strive to look after their “baby” but it takes its toll on them, it won’t eat and constantly cries.The film is as much about a man’s fear of parenthood as it is a dark psycho-sexual adventure that spirals into a nightmare, the themes are layered thick with semen imagery and abandonment, everyone wants it but no one wants the consequences, Henry, despite his mild manners is a bit of a wild horny goat at heart.

Lynch has obviously gone above and beyond to create something truly unique, and expressed it exactly how he felt it needed to be done, I do admire his ability to ignore social pressures and norms to give his fans both new and old something wholesome.

One factor about the movie which really cannot be ignored is the deeply disturbing and pounding soundtrack, all throughout the movie there’s distinctive noises, unreal sounds which cannot be ignored. The first time I tried to watch it, it really put me off, but it’s as much a part of the movie as any actor.

Even though it’s not a movie I desire to watch much, I do see its importance, it’s crafted so well, meticulous details have been perfected and the labor of love has paid off.

Not often recognised as the post apocalypse I feel the film is really set there,  but my mind doesn’t just boggle about the when and how but the thickly layered symbology can be read in so many ways.

Definitely something to watch, if just to see how you interpret it.

Rating: 6/10

R: Blue Velvet (1986), Lost Highway (1997), Elephant Man (1980)
A: Where’s the fish? Two types of Surreal Movies…
5s: David Lynch


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