STARRING: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, V. Phipps-Wilson, Jack Fisk

1978, 90 Minutes, Directed by: David Lynch

eraser.jpg (13732 bytes)Description: Is it a nightmare or an actual view of a post-apocalyptic world? Set in an industrial town in which giant machines are constantly working, spewing smoke, and making noise that is inescapable, Henry Spencer lives in a building that, like all the others, appears to be abandoned. The lights flicker on and off, he has bowls of water in his dresser drawers, and for his only diversion he watches and listens to the Lady in the Radiator sing about finding happiness in heaven. Henry has a girlfriend, Mary X, who has frequent spastic fits. Mary gives birth to Henry's child, a frightening looking mutant, which leads to the injection of all sorts of sexual imagery into the depressive and chaotic mix.

Where to begin with a review of Eraserhead? Did I like it? I don’t know. Is it any good? I don’t know either - but it is definitely different. Would I recommend it? No, not to just anybody - not everybody would like it. Sure, the film has achieved a sort of minor cult status but I cannot really imagine anybody wanting to see it more than once.

What’s it about? I can hear you shout. Therein lies the rub: not much really. It’s about a loner with a Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle who gets a girl pregnant and marries her. Fine. Except their baby is a sort of mutated monster, which sort of reminds one of the chest-bursting creatures in Alien, that whines (like a real baby) a lot.

She leaves him (because of the baby’s incessant crying) and eventually he goes mad. Madder than he was to start with, that is. Eraserhead is shot in black & white and took director David (Dune, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks) Lynch more than five years to film. It is set in a vaguely post-apocalyptic future of decrepit buildings. The soundtrack seems to consist of white noise: amplified hisses and creaks.

The film reminded me most of the old 1930s exercise in surrealism by Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, Un Chien Andalou.

Personally I think that director Lynch took some notes after one particularly bizarre and feverish nightmare and turned them into the movie we have here. The keywords are surreal, grotesque, bizarre, unwatchable at times and gross. Even fans of Lynch’s later films such as Lost Highway and Wild At Heart will be baffled by the proceedings.

Listen, if you have seen any of director Lynch’s other movies then check out Eraserhead. If you haven’t then I’d recommend starting off with his seminal 1980s indie movie Blue Velvet. If you don’t like Lynch’s stuff, then stay far and away because Eraserhead is even more inaccessible than most of his other output.

Me? Watching it was an infuriating and willfully ambiguous experience - and while to be honest I wouldn’t watch it again soon I’m definitely not disappointed that I did see it . . .


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