SECOND POST – March 21, 2012 – MERCURY NEWS SERVICE CULTURAL EVENT: THIRD MOST UNDERRATED MOVIE IN HISTORY: ERASERHEAD!
Spicy Damnable, movie critic special to MNS:
Eraserhead (1977) is the eidetic cult-driven movie women genuinely despise. Whilst David Lynch, the director and auteur behind this masterpiece is no misogynist, his nightmarish vision of domestic life with its intimations of Familieschreck and infanticide, merged with home-cooked meals of rubbery chicken, hideous in-laws and screaming, screeching, caterwauling babies who will not be cuddled or fed into silence makes this movie the one the fella’s should pass up if its going to be a date with a comely female. Women are uniformly revulsed by the images, all black-and-white, of a city lined by moss-covered tenements reeking of sewage; dining rooms no better than those in Stalin’s gulags and humans reduced to their Ur-Ugliness without hope of redemption.
Classic poster advertising the movie with the late John Nance in the title role.
It took Mr. Lynch about five years to finish this opus. The reader must not assume that the period of time is evidence of either infinite attention to detail (a Kubrick foible) or access to unlimited funding. Eraserhead was made by Lynch while he was a student of cinematic arts at the Centre for Advanced Film Studies in Los Angeles and seems to be one of those “projects in the making” that keeps getting put on the rear burner. This cavalier style of film making in no way affects the continuity of the movie because, if anything, continuity would destroy the premise that underlies it. Lynch establishes himself with Eraserhead as a movie maker with a gimmick: movies are like life which are like dreams and which are often nightmarish.
David Lynch would go on to make all kinds of movies with a nightmarish background
The “hero” in this drab dream of urban unhappiness is Henry Spencer whose kinky hairdo suggests the title. Like all young men, he is seduced by the promise of a rendezvous with a responsive female. But Lynch has other ideas. You see, in David Lynch’s world, what you think is real hides a true, underlying reality of shocking perversity. In Blue Velvet, Kyle MacLachlan sees his Lumberton as some picturesque town nestled in American purity, while under all the grass and inside the cracks of people’s walls, hides a terrible dream of mayhem and murder, severed human ears and sordid lives.
Henry gets invited to his new girl’s home, a wretched tenement house where people die of tuberculosis. There he meets her cackling mother, her vile, brutish father, the plate of ghastly chicken. The nightmarish character of the movie reaches its zenith of execrable, unpalatable horror when after Henry is married to this scrawny dame, she delivers a baby whose face resembles the Alien creature whom Sigourney Weaver had to battle in four installments. The baby will not stop screaming; no amount of milk or fondling will get the monster to stop as it slowly drives Henry to insanity.
Congratulations, Henry, what a lovely baby!
With a child like this, one can feel those ancient urges to end the pain with one act of heinous, pitiless rage. But Henry is not that kind of man. The nightmare is in the suspicion that he will go on the rest of his life in this existential torture chamber and suffer unspeakable injuries. I don’t want to give away more than what I have in this review because every person should be allowed to interpret events and symbols in his or her own personal way. This is especially true with dreams.
Lynch went on to make some interesting movies, many of them set in dreamlike scenes. Eraserhead is the beginning of his opera and may be his one masterpiece. One caveat though, don’t let your girlfriend or wife see it with you. You’ll never be forgiven.