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This one's a Must-See!

Henry meeting The Lady In The Radiator in his dream. (What IS it with Lynch and long names?)

A young filmmaker named David Lynch worked hard for years to finish his first feature length film Eraserhead, which finally saw the light of day in 1976, putting Lynch on the map. In 2010 it was seen by me, and not one movie I’ve seen since – or even before – has made me feel quite the way I did after I had first experienced what felt like a horrific, twisted nightmare, after which I would wake up feeling lonely and isolated from the real world, pondering, in confusion and fear, over the meaning of all those weird, disturbing visions. Basically, what I am saying is that Eraserhead is a genuine masterpiece!

It begins in space, where Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) floats around, being observed by a deformed figure, The Man In The Planet (Jack Fisk), who pulls on levers which cause Henry to barf out what appears to be a sperm, which crashes into a puddle on a nearby planet. As you may have guessed, I won’t even try to explain the plot so I’ll just tell you some what happens.

Eventually we’re introduced to Henry’s industrial town, where very few people live. His attractive neighbour, The Beautiful Girl Across The Hall (Judith Roberts) informs him that he is invited to dinner at the residence of his girlfriend Mary X (Charlotte Stewart). He accepts and visits the family X, and after a bizarre dinner – which involves man-made, tiny chickens that kick and ooze blood when you try to cut them – an upset Mrs. X (Jeanna Bates) confronts Henry about the baby Mary gave birth to, which she’s certain Henry impregnated her with, but Mary insists it isn’t actually a baby that waits for them in the hospital. One can see what she means when the baby is revealed – it is an apalling, mutated infant resembling an alien, a cow fetus or a shaved lamb; no one knows how Lynch actually made it.

The rest of the film is simply a series of strange scenes and horrific images; the baby screams throughout the nights until it makes Mary leave Henry, Henry visualizes a woman with big cheeks singing inside of his radiator (Laurel Near), he dreams that his head is replaced with that of his child as his severed head is put in a machine which creates pencil-erasers (hence the title, I presume), he finds more sperm-like creatures in his bed and finally does something to the baby, which results in the scariest ending I’ve seen to a film. (I won’t spoil it.)

Well, I never said it was going to be an easy task to figure out the true meaning behind this picture, if there even is one to be found; I’m not sure. I am sure of one thing though; this film is brilliant!!

Henry tries desperately to silence his deformed child.

I admire this film, I truly do – the way I felt when watching it is difficult to describe in detail, but the short version would likely be “a fascinating but highly terrifying nightmare”. Yeah, that’s pretty much the perfect way for anyone to sum it up – it’s a nightmare, filled with darkness and confusing images and there is nowhere to hide and no way to escape from the surrounding evil. Perhaps the film is indeed a dream, dreamt by our protagonist Henry, and we’re going through the quiet but scary horror he has to experience? Is it perhaps based on a dream Lynch had once he learned that he was soon going to have a child? Is the film a metaphor for the difficulties of parenthood? This is something we may never know.

Movies can be weird in a fascinating way (The City of Lost Children, Brazil), in a beautiful way (The Fountain, Donnie Darko) and of course they can be weird in a funny way (Monty Python, Alice in Wonderland), but they can also be weird in a scary way; Eraserhead is a perfect example of the last one. It is also a perfect example of the horror-genre; I mean, I am by no means a huge horror-fan yet I managed to find a horror film that did what it was supposed to and succeeded in frightening me. Really, I must admire it for that.

Close-up of the baby.

Eraserhead is the most bizarre movie ever created – I’m sure of it – but that’s why it works and why I love it; its very slow pace is also a good thing, by the way. I am also fond of the performances (even if they, too, are remarkably strange), the special effects (such as the aforementioed baby which looks amazingly real), the bizarre characters, the visuals and all the other screwed-up things about the film. It is sort of fascinating how the characters I assume we’re meant to care about are somber, whereas characters that seem up to no good are the ones who smile every once in a while (Mr. X, played by Allen Joseph, seemed more nuts than evil, however).

Like I said, I saw it back in 2010 and since then I have been a gigantic fan of David Lynch – not the master of filmmaking perhaps, but undeniably unique. I can give this movie no less than a 5/5 rating. Genuinely haunting and dark but unique and greatly fascinating; a strong must-see. It is certainly not something I would recommend those who are huge fans of Love Actually or Amélie, though.

Now remember: in Heaven, everything is fine.

5/5 whatever

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