Newest Reviews
Birth of the Dragon
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
  Eraserhead Oh You ARE SickBuy this film here.
Year: 1976
Director: David Lynch
Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, Jack Fisk, Jean Lange, Thomas Coulson, John Monez, Darwin Joston, Neil Moran, Hal Landon Jr, Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Genre: Weirdo
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: A print factory worker who is taking an extended vacation, Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is in some kind of dream state. He sees himself floating above a planet, and on its surface is a ruined house wherein sits a man (Jack Fisk) all ready to pull the levers in front of him to start things. A spermlike worm emerges from Henry's mouth, falls to a pool on the ground and the man in the planet yanks on the levers... Now Henry is walking home through the grim city that dwarfs him, accidentally stepping in a puddle that soaks his foot; when he gets back to his dingy apartment the woman across the hall (Judith Anna Roberts) has a message. His girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) called and has invited him over to meet her parents, but Henry would be advised not to go...

There are those who dismiss the auteur theory, saying that when so many people work on a film there can be no single author, but Eraserhead defies such criticism, obviously stemming from one man's mind and experience. That man was David Lynch, surely the most famous (if that's not a contradiction in terms) of cult directors, and after making short films he gained funding from the American Film Institute to make this, his first feature length opus. Shot mostly at night, the film took around five years to complete, and when it was released word of mouth spread about it that made it plain that this was something truly original, a mixture of surreallism, black humour and horror that refused to explain itself.

Henry is not a likeable character, but it's possible to feel sympathy for him when we see the predicament he gets himself into. Or perhaps not so much sympathy for him as cringing with embarrassment with him when he visits Mary's parents. If you've ever been in a supposedly polite social situation that grows ever more awkward you'll know what Henry is feeling, as the parents quiz him, offer him dinner and lead up to the big question. Henry hasn't seen Mary for a while and he soon finds out why, but not before the meal goes wrong with the small, "man made" chickens bubbling goo when Henry goes to carve them, and Mary's mother having some sort of fit. It's like a twisted sitcom pilot.

The big question is, what are you going to do about the baby, Henry? Yes, Mary has been pregnant, but the infant is born premature - "They're not even sure it is a baby!" bleats Mary - and now Henry must face up to responsibilities that have been forced on him. If Eraserhead is about anything, it's about the stress of failing in responsibilities that seem impossible to manage, and after a hasty marriage, Henry and Mary have to share his cramped apartment with the constantly crying baby, which resembles a foal's foetus wrapped in bandages. This is too much for Mary, and in the middle of the night she walks out, leaving Henry on his own so she can get a night's sleep.

If the nightmares weren't invading Henry's life before, they certainly are now, and any plot logic is airily let go to concentrate on the weirdness. Henry has visions of a huge-cheeked lady in his radiator who dances to organ music and sings "In Heaven Everything Is Fine". After Mary walks out again, he then has a brief fling with the woman across the hall which manifests itself as them both embracing in a deep, cloudy pool in the middle of the bed. Then, as the baby contracts an illness, he has visions of his own head popping off and turned into pencil erasers - hence the name. The film has a tone more of disgust and despair than frustration, revulsion at sex and disease, despondency at the inability to make productive connections, and if you don't enjoy the film you'll never forget the sustained brilliance of its imagery and oppressive, overwhelming sound design. One thing's for sure, Eraserhead comes from a dark place.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 9320 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


David Lynch  (1946 - )

One-of-a-kind American writer-director and artist. His low budget debut Eraserhead set the trends for his work: surreal, unnerving but with a unique sense of humour. After Mel Brooks offered him The Elephant Man, Dino De Laurentiis gave Lynch Dune to direct, but it was an unhappy experience for him.

Luckily, despite the failure of Dune, De Laurentiis was prepared to produce Lynch's script for Blue Velvet, which has since become regarded as a classic. He moved into television with Twin Peaks and On the Air, but it was with film that he was most comfortable: Cannes winner Wild at Heart, prequel/sequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, plot-twisting Lost Highway, the out of character but sweet-natured The Straight Story, the mysterious Mulholland Drive and the rambling, willfully obscure Inland Empire. His return to directing after a long gap with the revival of Twin Peaks on television was regarded as a triumph.

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: