Eraserhead (1977)

Article 1788 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-5-2006
Posting Date: 7-5-2006
Directed by David Lynch
Featuring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph

A printer who is on vacation discovers his girlfriend has given birth to what may be a baby. When she leaves, he must care for the baby himself.

I hope no one out there goes by the above plot description to give them an idea of what this movie is like. My favorite plot description for this one was in Danny Peary’s “Cult Movies”; if I had my copy of the book handy, I’d give you his complete synopsis, which consisted of just a few words describing the movie as a series of disturbing dreams, which gives you a far better idea than I could give. I’ve heard about this movie for years, but this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen it. The best description I can give is that it’s like Cronenberg filtered through Cocteau with bits of Polanski’s REPULSION thrown in for good measure. It was shot over a five-year period, and it eventually lead to David Lynch becoming the director for THE ELEPHANT MAN. What exactly is it all about? I don’t know; there is a definite emphasis on unhealthy sexuality, and it is full of sperm imagery, but what it all means is something I would rather not speculate upon, largely because I suspect that I would be limiting this movie too much to talk of it in such terms. There are a few touches of comedy as well, but I really doubt that it’s a comedy. It’s loaded with disturbing, repellent imagery, and you’ll be grateful the movie is in black and white in some scenes. And it is clearly a genre piece; among other things, it is a fantasy movie, there’s a strong touch of horror to the proceedings, and the baby could quite accurately described as being a monster. The movie is certainly unique and personal, and may be brilliant, and I may well watch it again, but only when the mood is just right.

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