Eraserhead (1977) (89 min)
Directed by David Lynch.
aka Labyrinth Man
Written by David Lynch.
Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart and Allen Joseph.
This [month] marks the 40th anniversary of David Lynch’s enigmatic cult film “Eraserhead”; a bizarrely strange and surreal body-horror film that is sure to get under your skin. In 1977, the film became a popular ‘Midnight Movie’ and has continued to bother viewers’ minds since then.
The film follows a strange man named Henry Spencer (played by Jack Nance) as he deals with marrying and having a child (if that’s what you want to call it). Henry encounters a strange woman in his radiator, a temptress across the hall, and the responsibility of taking care of a rather disgusting baby creature.
“In Heaven, everything is fine” sings the disfigured woman in the radiator. For Henry, he is living in Hell. Throughout the movie he has a confused and befuddled look on his face as if he is equally as shocked as the viewer to see the Kafka-esque nightmare play out before him. I don’t blame him for the confusement, as I could barely understand what was happening either. Every single scene is shot in stark black-and-white with constant industrial background ambience, which is sure to make the viewer feel on edge. When watching Eraserhead, I feel like I am watching a terrible nightmare that Henry is having.
Eraserhead’s story is very hard to decypher, it is a movie that you can watch again and again and still see something new every time. The underlying theme of the film is centered on procreation. At the beginning we see Henry meeting his girlfriend’s parents in one of the most uncomfortable family dinner scenes in cinema history. Later, we witness the monstrosity that is Henry’s baby, and we see the woman in the radiator stomp on giant sperm-like worms as Henry watches in bewilderment.
The plot may be esoteric and hard to follow, but the aesthetic and execution of the film is sure to induce a feeling of terrible discomfort, which makes Eraserhead a wonderful psychological horror story. For fans of David Lynch’s cult-classic T.V series, “Twin Peaks”, or surrealism in general, Eraserhead is a must-watch. This is the movie that launched David Lynch’s career and at one point was even declared by the great Stanley Kubrick to be his “favorite film”. In my opinion, Eraserhead is the quintessential cult-film. Love it, or hate it, this movie will for sure leave an impression on you.