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  • In film school it is not cool to say you like David Lynch. Film students claim he is just a poor mans version of Luis Bunuel. Yes, I would say that Bunuel is more talented and is the king of surrealism. But Lynch is very good and his films do challenge the viewer. I actually have a deep affection for his films. When his films work, they really work! However, when they do not work, for example, Twin Peaks, Fire, Walk with Me or Lost Highway then they quickly launch themselves into self parody. Many people claim his material is too inconsistent and indulgent to be really liked very much.

    What I find strange is that one reviewer here states that he feel duped by Lynch. Duped? Why? The films all have a story. They just have a narrative that works differently to conventional film making. If you look hard at the film and try to understand the subtext then you will pick up on what the film is about.

    I saw this when I was 16. I knew nothing about films or film making then. A friend and I were bored so we decided to see a movie at capitol cinema. Capitol cinema used to be a cinema that played arty or small independent films. They used to play midnight showings of eraserhead. There was always someone smoking a joint in that place. However, you don't need drugs for this film. Lynch is drugs. This film just buzzes you out.

    I had no idea what Eraserhead was about. I had never heard of Lynch and knew nothing about surrealism. I went in and was just totally blown away! Before this I had only really seen commercial blockbuster movies. Lynch gave me a whole knew perspective on what cinema is capable of. Eraserhead is the stuff of dreams. Lynch believes that watching a film is entering a dream state. Both my friend and I did not know what the hell was going on. I was fascinated...

    Later I would learn this is a film about Lynch's own obsessions. His hatred of Philadelphia. His fear and anxiety at being a father. The film is just full of a kind of a compulsive, paranoid neurosis. It is a waking nightmare. He also seems to parody the nuclear family. 'Did you have sexual intercourse with my daughter?' Meanwhile that weird blond woman in his radiator seems to represent his escape. A way to transcend from his grim world. What I also find bizarre is that people then accuse him of having no sense of humor! What? There are always funny moments in his films. 'Did you have sexual intercourse with my daughter?'

    Jack Nance is also very good as the main character. He seems to be playing the director and he gives a performance that is distant, spaced out and yet emotionally vulnerable. A really strange mix. The imagery is just brilliant. Black and white in an industrial wasteland. There is smoke here of course. It wouid not be a Lynch film without smoke! It also has a cool, grating industrial soundtrack that sets your nerves on edge. This is perfectly effective for the bleak tone of the film. It is so visually striking that the viewer will not forget the imagery quickly. There is a reason that this is a cult film. The other distinctive feature of this film is the long lingering shots. This reminds me of Jim Jarmusch and his movies like Dead Man and Ghost Dog. The length of the shots seems to have the effect of immersing the viewer in this strange industrial wasteland.

    I have my own copy that I lend to friends. They then normally give it back to me saying that they only got through the first half hour. They also normally tell me that I am a weirdo for liking it. I think what frustrates people most about Lynch is that he will not give any explanations of what the film is about. So any interpretation is as good as any other. People want the film to be explained so they can understand it. Who said films must be understood or comprehensible? Why can't a film be abstract piece of art like a painting? Lynch's films are like an acid trip. To quote the great gonzo, Hunter S Thompson, 'buy the ticket, take the ride and if it gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, then put it down to forced consciousness expansion.'

    So in other words, relax, stick it on and just run with it. Travel into someone else's nightmare for a change...
  • I sometimes dream of waking to a completely dark world, a world with no sunlight and minimal artificial light. My vision is blurred, but there is nothing to see. The streets are virtually empty, and my friends and family are lifeless; sitting, standing or even walking, but with nothing to do or say, and nowhere to go. No questions are asked because there is nothing to learn, nothing is discussed because nothing is interesting. And it is this dismal reality I am faced with, only partially aware that there is anything better.

    The existence I dream of is somewhat reminiscent of the world of Henry Spencer, the main character in Eraserhead, who becomes father to a hideously deformed baby. That's what the film is about at face value, but the very style in which it is portrayed is the real beauty of it. The setting and scenery makes the film one of the most desperately depressing I have ever seen. And although Henry seems to be devoid of any spark of personality, we can't help but sympathise with him throughout the film.

    Similar to my dream, the only form of light is artificial, the streets are virtually empty, and the only person in the entire film who has any personality is the father-in-law, and the only thing he has to talk about is his poor health. He also seems to be the only one with any link to better times. ("I've watched this city turn from pastures to the hell-hole it is now.") The city they live in is completely industrialized, and the only plant life seen is dead, and in a pile of soil on Henry's bedside table.

    Some have suggested it is based after a nuclear holocaust, but nothing is explained to any conclusion. One of the beauties of this film is that it practically begs the viewer to decide for themselves what any of it means, and there are many theories. I warn you not to read the message board of Eraserhead before you see the film, as it is so much more powerful and chilling to experience it first-hand.

    The first time I saw Eraserhead, I was completely confused. It is possible that David Lynch just put a load of random imagery together and called it a film. Maybe he wanted the viewers to put it all together and make their own sense of it (or not). On the other hand, there might actually be a set formula behind it and only the very open-minded and discerning audience can properly decipher it.

    One viewing of Eraserhead is enough to raise about a dozen questions, and to leave you gasping for answers. Two viewings are probably enough to give you theories about some of the cryptic depictions hauntingly portrayed. Three viewings might be enough to give you a completely different set of theories, battling persistently against your previous conceptions, but still leaving just a few details that don't quite seem to fit in. The truth is that there may be parts that don't make sense in one interpretation, but fit in perfectly to another. You could probably watch Eraserhead several times, and each time see a slightly different story. Or if you were to ask six different people exactly what Eraserhead is about, you would get six different answers, each equally correct in their own right, and each equally confused.

    That being said, this definitely isn't a film for everyone. This is the first Lynch film I have seen, and it certainly won't be the last. But there will no doubt be many who see this purely as a lot of clever mind tricks and special effects (for its time, anyway.) There will be those who don't like much to think about, and want it all explained bit by bit in perfect detail. Well, Eraserhead is an epitome of everything such moviegoers will hate. I will say this for certain: If your favourite films are 'Love Actually' or 'Dude, Where's My Car?', you probably won't get much out of Eraserhead. But for those who like their concepts challenged once in a while, this film will probably be one to watch again and again until you understand. This is also not a film to be forgotten easily. Love it or hate it, Eraserhead will stay with you for a very long time.
  • I can think of very few films that have sound as their most commendable feature. The Exorcist is one, a film that, aside from infrequent strains of `Tubular Bells', adopts minimal incidental music. This is laudable in a horror genre where shocks are clearly signposted – and predicted – by overgenerous musical stings. The Exorcist may be flawed, but its avoidance of this field cliché is worthy of praise.

    Eraserhead is the other film that excels in sound. A frankly disturbing concoction of industrial score and white noise with undercurrents of musical hall and sonorous church organ, it is almost an extra character in the film, and easily it's most prominent factor.

    Yet Eraserhead is to be recommended for more than its incidentals. An impenetrable and gloomy work, what is it actually about? Who is the credited `man in the planet' who pulls levers that control giant spermatozoa? Many questions like this permeate a film which perhaps has to be seen several times to get over the initial shock of it's avant gardism. Lynch extracts the everyday and supplants it with the exceptionally bizarre. The experience of meeting a girlfriend's parents for the first time is never worse than here, where the parents in question gyrate spasmodically to the animated legs of a blood-spitting chicken. It's these scenes – along with the deformed mutant baby – that could lend the film the air of an abortion debate. Birth and repressed sexuality thrive throughout the film, from suckling puppies to the seductive appeal of the `beautiful girl across the hall' and a mother-in-law that gets too close for comfort. I guess the entire film could be a man's mental breakdown when faced with the premature responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. Though to be honest I couldn't even begin to imagine what it's really all about.

    Encroaching blackness fills every scene, where lights are intermittent at best, and at worse fail completely. Often sets – particularly the bedroom when `Mary X' is feeding the child – are like prison cells. Two of the most eerie segments involve a title-explaining dream (?) where Henry's (Nance's) head is carved into pencil rubbers and an unsettling musical number from the `lady in the radiator'. This is the same lady with two candyfloss-like lumps on her cheeks that alternates her stage appearances between stamping on giant sperm to singing with religious convictions.

    Direction and cinematography are brilliant throughout, though the climax is the ultimate extension of a film that borders on darker, extremely unpleasant aspects of reality. I took a girl to see this film once, where the conclusion formed the final straw in what could be seen as a cycle of repellent imagery. I wonder why I never saw her again?
  • When I first saw this film I thought all it was trying to do was create an uncomfortable atmosphere, but after a friend explained the imagery, David Lynch's genius became clear to me. These are the most important symbols. The worms represent sin. The baby represents the result of a sin. The radiator represents suicide. The girl behind the radiator represents death (she crushes the worms/sins) A thinking man's horror flick!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First of all, let me say that Eraserhead is not a film for everyone. Many people will find themselves confused by the strange atmosphere, surreal imagery, and signature David Lynch sense of purposefully awkward pacing.

    That out of the way, I would have to say that this is possibly one of my most personal favorite films. It is dark, tense, atmospheric, and filled with sounds and images that will send chills up your spine. It is a film that takes more than one viewing to truly begin to comprehend, but is quite a ride nontheless. There are moments in this movie that will literally scare you, so much so that one could almost call this eerie surreal art-film a deconstructed domestic horror movie. This film, along with the original black and white Night of the Living dead, are two of the only films in existance that still scare me to this day. (Side note: Also, I reccomend that you see Luis Bunuel's movie "Un Chien Andalou" to see where strange art-films like this originated from.)

    Anyway, the film's plot while initially incomprehensible to most, can be broken down into the tragic tale of a man named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) stuck in a dark decaying city overrun by industry. During the film, he is forced to deal with the prospect of taking care of an illegitimate premature child birthed by his girlfriend, Mary X. (Charlotte Stewart) However, he is consumed by his guilt, and begins to comprehend suicide as a way out. But the story is told through such a swirling mixture of dreamlike imagery that this is not always readily apparent.

    However, in order to better understand and appreciate the film, one must figure out what each of the images mean. Here's a short cliff notes guidline to some of the more common recurring images in the movie:

    ***THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS***

    Worm = sin. These creatures appear all throughout the movie. Henry even tries to hide his "little" sin from Mary at one point, only to have a nightmare where Mary is consumed by worms. Henry's room is also filled with piles dirt and dead plants as one might notice, which makes his room a breeding ground for worms.

    The Baby = The product of sin. You might have noticed that the baby looks an awful lot like a worm. Futhermore, the baby is a part of Henry, and later during the dream sequence, we discover that Henry IS the baby. When Henry kills the baby, he kills himself.

    Eraser = Memories. Henry feels that his memories, or his brain with his bad memories, is like an eraser that needs to be rubbed out. In his dream sequence, he sees himself losing his head, and having his brains turned into eraser bits to be rubbed out and blown into dust on the wind.

    The lady in the radiator = Death. Death looks grotesque, yet strangely appealing to poor Henry. The radiator gives off warmth and seems to become a stage where death performs for Henry, promising to stamp out his sins (worms) and telling him that "in heaven, everything is fine." At the end of the movie, Henry embraces the lady in the radiator before blackness falls.

    The man in the planet = God. In addition to disposing of Henry's cofessed sins at the beginning of the movie (the worm coming out of Henry's mouth) the scarred man in the planet appears to prevent Henry from opting for suicide during his dream sequence. He silently reminds Henry of his sacrifice (the bleeding tree) though it is in vain as Henry shows God what he really is underneith. (the baby)

    The last is a theme that occurs in all Lynch movies:

    Electricity and electrical lighting = The presence of good. Darkness = The presence of evil.

    There are other aspects of the film that keep popping up, such as the reocurrence of the unlucky number thirteen. Henry waits thirteen seconds for the elevator to open up, the lady across the hall takes thirteen seconds to appear, Henry's apartment numbers add up to the number thriteen, etc. Also, there are many other images which I will let you figure out on your own.

    ***END OF SPOILERS***

    All in all, the movie is quite an experience. This is a film that you will either love or utterly hate. For myself, I managed to "click" with the movie from the first time I saw it and have enjoyed it since. Repeated viewings only add to the enjoyment of the film, as you begin to notice more and more that you never saw before. All in all, I say that it is an excellent and extremely layered film.

    With that, I give you some fun facts about the movie:

    -The pencil eraser machine actually worked. It was put together by Lynch and a friend of his.

    -To this day, Lynch will still not disclose how he constructed the amazingly convincing baby creature, though he claims is was created with substance/objects that anyone could find around the house.

    -Jack Nance's hair was incredibly malleable. Literally, all it took was a little bit of trimming on either side of his head and some combing to get it to stand upright.

    -In order to get a better sense of textures for the film (possibly for the organs of the baby) Lynch dissected a dead cat.

    -When driving around town with the "Henry hair" Jack Nance would sit in the center seat while Lynch and someone else would sit on either side to keep his gravity-defying hair from being seen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I critique a film, I usually begin with a synopsis. That is where my problems start with David Lynch's Eraserhead: what with not having a conventional narrative, it doesn't lend itself to being easily synopsised.

    So let me say that it appears to be about a strange man and matters and characters concerning his strange mutant offspring although any or all of it may be fantasy.

    I must say initially that I suspect that the movie is very close to showing on screen exactly what David Lynch intended: I can't imagine these images or events being accidental or unintentional.

    I must then go on to say that I don't like it very much. Not just because it doesn't tell a conventional narrative in a conventional way, although that's part of it. But more because what it shows doesn't please me. The images are unpleasant and unappealing. The main character doesn't invite me to identify with him. I don't understand what Lynch is trying to do, as a result of which I can't engage with the movie on any level except visual and, on that level, Lynch seems to have set out to ply me with a disturbing visual experience which I didn't enjoy.

    So I have to say that while I admire Lynch's ability to capture something which is, at best odd and, at worst, twisted, it wasn't really my thing.
  • I've watched Eraserhead countless times. In theaters. Off of the infamous Japanese-subtitled VCR copy. Off of the recent Lynch re-release. From around the late 70s onward. Yes, that long.

    I have friends who won't let me recommend movies to them any more.

    Anyway, the capsule summary, "Can't be summarized," is pretty close.

    First, it is not a movie. It is not a film.

    It is a piece of art.

    All of the comments I read that attempt to describe it as a movie fail for precisely that reason. If you read the ones that can handle it, they handle it as an art review.

    So don't even think of it as a movie. Don't recommend it as a movie. It doesn't work.

    I'll also admit that I sat in a haze for decades, absorbed in the imagery. In awe of the impressions. And finally, an image crystallized, an image of what this was a portrait of. (And, of course, I expect this image may change with repeated viewings...) And as I watch it, with this in mind, a continuity appears.

    We are living in hell, we just don't realize it.
  • How frightening. How unnerving. What a spectacular piece of film-making. I saw the film for the first time with a tiresome former colleague who kept turning to me and whispering : "Please exhale" "Are you breathing?" "Please breathe" or "Please stop breathing" I wanted to run away but I couldn't I was glued, stacked, hooked. The world of David Lynch is made of kindly horrors, normal monsters, poetic nightmares. I wonder what planet is he from. I think it would important to know so we can all avoid it. That's what any average Joe may say because every average Joe, me included, finds something familiar in this fascinating, peculiar, horrifying vision of the world. You want to close your eyes, but you can't. Even if you could, you still can hear. the whimpering of the thing, the child, the figment of David Lynch's imagination. How can you recommend a nightmare to a friend? Well you must, if friendship involves sharing every possible experience. "Earserhead" will put you to the test in a way no other film has ever done. Go! I dare you.
  • I'm always a bit worried when I'm about to express my love towards this movie by the genius director David Lynch... I figure it's the perfect indicator for psychiatrists to claim that you're completely nuts :)

    But what the heck, they're a lot of nutballs on this website, so I can speak my mind freely. Indeed, I love this movie...although 'love' may be a wrong term to describe my feelings towards it. This movie 'fascinates' me is a much better saying. Usually, a movie is something in which you can live yourself in...in order to escape the stress of real life. Eraserhead is the exact opposite of that ! When watching this film, you can only hope that you'll never awake in the wold like Lynch shows it here. The horrible noises, the colorless and tasteless locations and the insensible characters...you all hate to love it. Eraserhead takes a walk with your emotions, you don't know whether to be disgusted or intrigued by it. So you'll feel uncomfortable when watching it and that's a wonderful experience for a cinema freak !

    Eraserhead is the ultimate cult film in my opinion and a must see for every fan of this delicious genre. In fact, I would go so far to say you can't call yourself a cult-freak if you haven't seen it yet.

    David Lynch begins his highly impressive career with this one and it still lives on. Eraserhead isn't his best film at all ( certainly not when it comes to storyline ) but it's his most deep and personal tale. 25 years old and still the "weirdest" film ever. That's an achievement, certainly with all this artistic filmmakers lately...or, at least, they try to be...)

    I want to encourage as much people as possible to see this one, but it's for the best that some groups of people avoid it. Surely not recommended if you're depressed or suicidal...The image of Jack Nance and the rest of the cast could even put you more down, I think. The tagline of this movie - "In heaven, everything looks fine" - could become a stimulus, I'm afraid. Pregnant women and young couples in love should beware as well !! This film is the ultimate nightmare for that what should be the greatest miracle of life...The hideous but yet harmless "baby" ( I really don't know how I should call it, actually )is the purest form of horror that ever occurred on the screen.

    You must have respect for director David Lynch. If you imagine how hard it must have been to create and finance this production. But it worked...hell, even comedy legend Mel Brooks was deeply impressed. Based on this film, he decided to let Lynch direct "The Elephant Man" a few years later. By that, David's career was launched and of course he made a masterpiece out of it. For me personally, his highlights were the 80's with terrific movies like "Blue Velvet", "Dune" ( very underrated, in my opinion) and "Wild at Heart" at the end of the decade. And let's not forget the best TV-series ever made: "Twin Peaks".

    Please, watch this movie !! Three times in a row if possible. I know a lot of people who just stopped watching it after half and hour ( or less ) and yelled "What the f*** is this ???". Real shame, if you ask me. It's an insight to a great mind and a unique event. If you really don't see the magic of it, at least try to admire the very stylish haircut of the main character. I'm thinking of doing the same thing with mine...
  • I needed to read all the other reviews here before I was game to make a comment. I'm a great fan of Lynch's Wild at Heart having seen it four times, and recently loved Lost Highway. But this one left me baffled. I'd heard of it for years, but can make little sense of it. It certainly didn't bore me, in fact I was fascinated to see where the plot led. Tried to analyse it in terms of symbolism, but decided that if I have to do that the film isn't really speaking to me. The dark broodiness is impressive, the squishiness repulsive, and Henry's hairdo is unforgettable!
  • Let's say it right here and now: David Lynch is a genius. I don't care if you love him or hate him, you can't take away that simple fact. "Eraserhead" is his masterpiece -- the most original and personal film ever created by any film maker. It's as far from the forgettable fluff of mainstream Hollywood as you can get, and as weird as it is, it strikes a chord deep in the human psyche. I don't think anyone could experience this film without being deeply moved. This beautiful, industrial nightmare comes as close to depicting a fever dream as any film ever could, or ever will! David Lynch pulled out all the stops to make "Eraserhead" as perfect as any film can be, and it shows. It is a great work of art in its own right. The characters and setting are unforgettable, and are as strange as they are familiar. The story is slow-moving, but steadily builds with the fury of a small hurricane. The film walks a tightrope somewhere between the reality of the world we know, and "someplace else." Where that is, only David Lynch knows for sure. Lynch is a fine example of a film maker who isn't afraid to take huge risks. That's how masterpieces are made. "Eraserhead" is the proof.
  • You have to dissect it, watch it more than once, eat, breathe it and live it before you can get it. There are lots of explanations for all of the things that "make no sense"... it's art in it's purest form - you take away from it what you want! You can see Henry struggling with suddenly being thrust into the role of father and husband, his sin, his temptation, his life, his death, his dreams... too much symbolism to even get into here... anyone who dismisses this film as "junk that makes no sense" will never get it, and that's OK. But for the rest of us, it's on our "Top Ten Films of All Time" list. Brilliant and beautiful and horrifying! Makes you think for weeks... YEARS. I love it. Highly recommended to those who are open-minded! AMAZING FILM!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When on the hunt for cult films, this one should not be overlooked. Filmed over the course of five years (1972-1977), this film is the very first full-length masterpiece of artist David Lynch. I say artist because he began not as a director, but an art student. Finding canvas too confining, he moved on celluloid, eventually moving on to AFI to fund his script 'Eraserhead'. According to Lynch, the film was inspired largely by his stay in Philadelphia. To know how he views it, the film must be seen.

    The script itself was only 21 pages long, so it was assumed to be roughly a 21 minute movie; most people wouldn't expect that the film would be a living, breathing piece of art.

    The elements of the film cannot even be understood by film scholars. Lynch himself has said that in the 25 or more years it has been out that no critic or viewer has given an interpretation that is in line with his own. There appear to be prevalent themes of sexuality and conception, not to mention claustrophobia and physical discomfort in simply living. The film is definitely very affecting on a visceral level in certain scenes where Lynch appears to deconstruct the simplicity of family life and bring to the surface the inherent disgusting nature of feeding. Near the end, simple curiosity gets the best of the main character, played extraordinarily well-reserved by Jack Nance, and his mistake ends up causing his world to fall apart. Overall, the film logic seems to be one of a nightmare, an open-ended metaphor dealing with one man's fear of fatherhood.

    Put simply, there is no other film like it. Not even Lynch's later work can compare. This is on the must-see list for any film student, however, it may be annoying and make absolutely no sense to the casual viewer.
  • I like to think I have an open mind and look at movies or art objectively, which is why I gave Eraserhead a fair go. And I'm happy with horror or any movie going back to the silent era. I have a complete open mind.

    Unfortunately I did not enjoy Eraserhead at all and I was happy when it was over. Why so critical of one of David Lynch's acclaimed early work you may rightly ask? Well nothing really happens in it. For most part of the film centres in one room and on two things: the main protagonist and a very unusual looking baby. There is little dialogue, no plot or story or character development.

    My imagination was put into overdrive working out the scenes, any metaphors, whether the story took place in the past, future, some parallel universe or the warped mind of the protagonist of the film. Not a lot is given away.

    Eraserhead is abstract art in black & white. This may have worked in 1977 but now it feels very dated, not the least bit frightening, way too long and I am afraid boring.
  • Unlike some of Lynch's more recent works ("Mullholland Drive" and "Lost Highway" for example) Eraserhead is a film that doesn't benefit from being "figured out".

    The film left me with several strong emotional impressions, mainly having to do with the hell of a forced marriage and the burden of caring for an unwanted child. In spite of truly bizarre occurances (Roast chickens start kicking and oozing blood at the dinner table while Mom has a seziure apparently unnoticed by everybody else; grandma seems catatonic, but mom still gets her to toss the salad, etc., etc., etc...), Mary comes from a rigidly "traditional" family, completely crass in it's need to know if Henry had sex with Mary, what Henry does for a living, and it's assumption that he will marry Mary after presenting him with flimsy evidence that they've had a child together. The values that force Henry and Mary to marry are shown to be as much a part of the machine that has created the industrial hell in which they live as any other force.

    Their universe seems post-appocalyptic in its desolation; not a wisp of vegetation anywhere, and almost no clues about time of day. I suspect a rational explanation for the setting of Eraserhead might include some alien takeover; Henry and Mary's "premature baby" doesn't really look human, and it's introduction to their lives is more than a little suspect. Not to mention the "worms" that keep appearing everywhere,looking like dissected human central nerve chords.

    While I firmly believe there is no one way to interpret Eraserhead, it

    does touch on a number themes that fall into the "social commentary" bin. Isolation deepening simultaneously with physical connection (pipes)as a metaphor for sex that alienates, marriage forced by circumstance, etc. It manages to get the viewer (at least this one) thinking about these issues in an abstract way. I don't know that I really enjoyed the film (although Harry's dream where his brian gets turned into eraserheads was humorous) but I didn't find it worthless. As an image and soundscape, it was truly brilliant.

    The intentional mix of plot and diversion succeeds in tempting and then thwarting analysis, like a painting or a sculpture. As such, this film is guaranteed to alienate a large audience. Some of Lynch's more recent films ("Mulholland Drive", for example) are puzzleboxes that start the viewer out in this state of confusion, but actually make a lot more sense once the puzzle is figured out. "Eraserhead" deliberately induces confusion, and intentionally maintains confusion throughout, with no resolution intended. As such, it is typical "student work", untainted by the need to be palatable to large numbers of people, unencumbered by the idea that many will lose interest because they do not see value in maintaining states of confusion (it's called developing an attention span). As with all things, it's a matter of taste.
  • i sometimes wonder if people like lynch make movies with complete random crap in them just to see how many people they can convince that its art, or a masterpiece.

    i can imagine lynch sitting in a room reading all the praise for eraserhead and laughing at how many pretentious people buy it as a serious piece of film-making.

    that aside, before a hundred more 'open minded' sorts bash me for missing the point, i'd like to think i understand why other people like it.

    I hate this movie. I'm surprised i lasted the full running time. i don't think there's a film out there that i've seen, that has made me want to pierce my eyes and ears more than when i watched eraserhead (ok, 'love, actually'). And maybe its designed to make you feel uncomfortable, maybe that's part of its 'power', but to me that doesn't make it a good film.

    as far as i know, there are very few people who would actually take pleasure in wanting to stab themselves in the eye.

    To its credit, its a film open to interpretation, but all the people i know who enjoyed it are annoying film students who like to over analyse movies (but if he puts his hand there, what does that mean???... er nothing) and look as if their cultured and have a grasp of film language.

    Watch it if you like, you may take something away from it that i missed or ignored, but don't say i didn't warn you if you find your eye on the end of a fork.
  • I'm all for surrealism, hidden messages, and hidden meanings in films but, when your film's ONLY meaning is the hidden meaning and viewing it any other way is just a jumble of nonsensical scenes with an incoherent narrative, I have a problem. Especially when you (or rather David Lynch) refuses to even remotely explain the movie. I guess that sense of mystery and interpretation may have some appeal to others but, to me, this is hands down the worst film I have ever seen. I don't mean I dislike it. I mean it is LITERALLY at the bottom of the list of movies I've seen.

    To elaborate a bit, I've looked up several interpretations of the film and not a single one of them made the movie any better for me.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I couldn't help but think one thing while watching this movie: "so... this is where Tim Burton got his influence". I've seen all kinds of movies, some I thought were brilliant, some overly pretentious. "Eraserhead", though brilliantly directed, lacks a lot of support and relevance, and overtly attempts to be deeply symbolic. I remember when I enjoyed creepy characters and random disturbing scenes, but this film seemingly dumbs down the audience in an almost conscious manner.

    The story centers around Henry Spencer (Jack Nence) who lives in a world that either resembles a nightmare or a different dimension. His days revolve around walking around his industrial town, and sitting in his small quiet apartment suspiciously observing every angle as if he's never been there. He's told that his girlfriend (?) awaits him at her house for dinner, and with hesitation he joins her, again, in an awkward suspicious way. The girlfriend, named Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) lives with her parents and grandmother who follow lifestyles of some impulsive serial killers. After Henry finds out that he and girlfriend Mary X have a premature baby, he falls head first into a world of mayhem, delusion, and sexual provisions. His girlfriend gives birth to a mutant baby, and leaves him to take care of it by himself.

    "Eraserhead" is really unique, but over-stylized and pretentiously dangerous. In the world we live in today, an audience will fall in love with any movie that has some level of cult status. While I'll agree that the directing is superb, especially on such a low budget, the story itself lacks any drive. Albeit the movie has a massive creepy feel to it, from the subtle build up of bizarre sound effects to the sinister-like score, it leaves you empty and cold asking yourself what you had just seen. I've never been one to hold a good deep screenplay that leaves you thinking for hours against the movie, but in this case there's just way too much false instinctiveness.

    The mutant baby is a motif that the movie attempts to force in order for us to feel scared and shocked. And in the center of it all, the baby looks more like a dinosaur than a disfigured, dream-like figure. Then there's the "creepy" girl who sings a song about life in heaven, which Henry listens to for comfort. Her presence is almost unnecessary and oblique, making you tilt your head back more asking "why?" is this a film that observes the life of one man? Did he suffer from a traumatic experience? We don't know, and director-writer David Lynch seems to think we don't care. The movie opens up with a scene of what seems to be an asteroid and an overlapping image of Henry floating around. He then wakes up on the road and sets out in Chaplin-like posture, passing and dismissing anything out of the ordinary. In one scene, he invites his next door neighbor in and lets her seduce him into sleeping with her. They then end up in Henry's bed, falling deep into what seems to be water. A pretentious goof might say it's an excellent way of showing sexual desire and an atmosphere that seems to give Henry the relaxing feeling he's always wanted. I say it's the first thing that popped into Lynch's head.

    Half way through, I looked at my watch asking if it'll be over soon. Really, you don't have to watch the rest to get the basic idea of the whole thing. However I stuck around for the beautiful cinematography and excellent underrated directing. Lynch uses his camera and works with it like an Axe murderer would with a good victim. He separates reality with non-diegetic sound that the main character can actually hear, and really knows how to handle the framing in each shot.

    I watched the extra features and David Lynch put into words what I thought was a true representation of this film: "I have no idea how the idea came to me, or when it came to me". How could you? It's completely random and spontaneous. It also suffers from a weak ending, Henry gives up and murders his baby only to see the little asteroid -- or his shell of life -- burst and explode, leaving him to go into heaven with the strange butt-face girl who sings in his radiator. Well, problem solved, kill the itch and join peace for eternity. I think that's the idea the movie was conveying. As for the title itself, it's really pretty interesting. "Eraserhead" refers to the term 'erase your head,' which means to get rid of any awareness or consciousness of what you're doing. Something Lynch must have done when he was writing the script.
  • I don't even know where to begin. Watching Eraserhead was...unfortunately one of the most unforgettable experience of my life. Yea,there was some strange imagery that left you questioning, but it was either dragged on wayyyy too long or it was impossible to concentrate because of the ear-piercing noises in the background that make you lose focus. During this film i wanted to spoon out my eyeballs, put them in a flame resistant bowl, pour gasoline on them and light them on fire. I know it sounds like i'm being way over dramatic and i'm exaggerating...but seriously. Go out and rent this movie. I am not responsible for what may happen to your mental or physical state...it's all on David lynch for making this 'cult classic'.
  • Of all the films I've seen, this has to be the 2nd most surreal of all. Only L'Age d'or can surpass it. While that movie was sublimely subversive, especially in its closing scene, Eraserhead can only hint at such greatness.

    Reviewing a movie like this is nearly impossible. How can one honestly "enjoy" the macabre and disturbing imagery? How can one definitively pinpoint the narrative or intention when the creator has said nary a word on the subject in 30 years?

    Most of David Lynch's work has been moderately accessible if you're willing to work at it. He's been equally successful with a straight-forward narrative (The Elephant Man, Straight Story) as he has with the bizarre (almost everything else). But after watching this movie, I feel like I either need to attend film school or see a therapist.
  • Stef-225 February 1999
    1/10
    Trash
    This film is the kind of self-indulgent trash which gives independent movie-making such a bad name. Truly a film which provides more nightmarish visions of filming technique than nightmarish visions. The actors can't act, they can't react, they look awful, and consequently none were ever heard of again. The positive aspect of this film is David Lynch's example that no matter how big a screw-up you make you can still achieve success!The worst film I have seen (out of around 1,500 films).
  • As an admirer of David Lynch's work I think that Eraserhead is the most fitting introduction to this man's World as you are likely to get.

    It was on the strength of this film that Mel Brooks chose David to direct Elephant Man. Having said that can't you see the similarities in style and content?

    Saying Lynch is weird is like saying the Beatles wrote good pop music. Lynch's weirdness can effect one on a very profound, almost spiritual level, eg Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks.

    Eraserhead is a hard film to enjoy but it's well worth the effort, if only for Jack Nance's superb visual performance, and a deeper appreciation of Lynch's mis-en-scene.
  • For the rest of us, don't bother. This movie definitely has points about it that some would consider 'good', and other points which make this movie the most boring 1.5 hours of my life.

    There are probably less than 50 lines in the whole movie. I wouldn't say that there is good 'imagery', but you get hung up on it because there are no words. The sound effects were INTERESTING, though not necessary good.

    Some say it's ahead of it's time, not sure why. I've never seen anything like it since... Maybe it's 'time' is yet to come? Some say it doesn't have a plot- it does; it's just that it can be explained in 10 words or less.

    This movie is definitely DIFFERENT- not because Lynch is a genius, but because no one has the time or energy to create such a piece of crap. I regretfully say that I think I could take 3 nightmares, randomly mix them together, and get a similar 'masterpiece'.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film has become a famous "cult classic" and thus attracts considerable debate and comment, both favourable and unfavourable. However, anyone who is tempted to watch it simply in order to discover "what all the fuss is about" should be aware that this is a *particularly* disturbing (I would say distressing) film, located at the darkest end of the spectrum of surrealism, and, due to its many very unpleasant and potentially frightening images, themes and inferences, it is best placed in the "horror" genre, despite its lack of traditional blood and gore.

    No matter what opinions of this film (both for and against) may be found on this website or anywhere else, this is not a film to watch without first considering the point that, whatever else it may be, it is almost universally considered to be extremely (even excessively) disturbing, and should DEFINITELY be avoided by anyone who is in a psychologically vulnerable condition.

    It is also probably best avoided by anyone who may find it upsetting to see imagery of premature, damaged, injured, deformed, mutated, mentally and/or physically abnormal, or dying/dead babies, as the film refers throughout to a "baby" which can, according to the viewer's interpretation(s), be placed into any or all of these categories (plus more, no doubt). Even though the "baby" in the film is evidently a model (and a poorly made one), it is still realistic enough, and peculiar enough in both appearance and behaviour, to potentially cause distress to anyone with psychological concerns regarding babies or childbirth. It is not for nothing that the term "The Eraserhead Baby" has entered the language, at least in the UK amongst adults over about 35, and is always used to mean "something which is weird and scary".

    In my opinion the usual certification of the film is not high enough; while it does not contain explicit sexual content, graphic violence, or any of the other conditions which would cause it to be rated as an "adult movie" (e.g. drug use), it DOES contain very disturbing imagery and, as the mother of three children, I would certainly not allow them to watch it until they were fully adult, i.e. 18 or older - and even then, I would warn them (and anyone else) to beware of its genuinely disturbing nature and advise them not to watch it at all, as in my opinion it has no merit of any normal cinematic kind and can serve at best to make the viewer wonder why it was made, but at worst to leave the viewer psychologically unsettled or even permanently damaged, depending upon the robustness or otherwise of their psyche. This really is NOT a "watch it for a laugh" film.

    Although some argue that this film should not be judged by normal "movie" standards (I'd say because it doesn't meet any of them, but that debate belongs elsewhere), the term "film" tends usually to mean something with a discernible plot/story, widely comprehensible (not necessarily pleasant) content, and some kind of meaningful or at least understandable conclusion, hopefully with a bit of entertainment thrown in. So if one is to judge this film according to normal cinematic standards such as intended meaning (if any), storyline(s), acting performances, quality of direction and/or production, entertainment value, and so on, it scores very low (in fact, I'd say zero) in all such typical categories. It can be argued that the absence of plot and the disjointed, inexplicable nature of the film's progression is of merit because it is not "a film", but is in fact "a piece of art", but there is no point in entering *that* debate here, either. I would simply like to say that, if the director was trying to make a statement, it is impossible to tell whether he has succeeded, since it is not possible from watching the film to tell what statement, if any at all, is being made; indeed, although many people have managed to find meaning in the film, no two of them agree as to what that meaning is, so if it is there, it is so completely obscured by the film's bizarre incoherence as to be impossible to deduce with any certainty.

    What is certain is that I have yet to find any person at all who has watched this film without finding it disturbing in some degree, with many considering it very disturbing and unpleasant indeed, and finding themselves stuck with mental images and concepts which they wish they hadn't acquired - in other words, most of the people I know who have watched this film genuinely wish they hadn't, as they gained nothing useful from it - not even entertainment, as, in spite of its many peculiarities and a lot of unpleasant imagery, it somehow manages also to be, overall, noticeably dull to the point of being boring.

    All in all - don't expect to be impressed, or even entertained, but do expect to be disturbed to some extent, unless you are exceptionally hardened against films which set out to achieve precisely that effect.
  • This is why I am doing this whole thing. To watch a film like this. I have only seen three other Lynch films in their entirety (I'm still having trouble watching all of Inland Empire). I have no idea if people on this board like this film, but I do know that many here like Lynch and his unusual style. Saying unusual is an understatement too.

    The sound design in this film is phenomenal, if not bizarre and is the film's key ingredient. If this sound design did not work then I do not think the film would have such a cult following. Everything is heightened to an extreme and surreal beyond what one can imagine. Thew squeaking of the puppies, the disturbance of the radiator, so on and so on.

    If I were to actually try and figure out what the film was about, my head would explode ala Scanners. I get some themes and meanings, but was lost in the so called narrative, if you can call it that. Lynch has always been one for the abnormal things and this is no different. I can say that this is one of his weirder ones and that is saying a lot.

    The dream sequence ties into the title and seem to have nothing to do with the film, upon first look that is. Eraserhead is definitely a 'watch more then once' experience. You can debate with everyone about what the film was trying to say or what the hell is was even about, but no one can be certain. I don't even think Lynch knows.

    Now whenever you watch a film that is experimental, you try to find some value and meaning within it. You want it to be more than just another weird film for the sake of being weird. Lynch has been accused of this many times, but I think he is better than that. His films do have substance, you can tell in how he tells the story and how things seem to re-appear. Unlike other films where they pop up and are never seen again. Even though there are numerous scenes that just simply don't make sense to me, like when the daughter is sitting on the couch and doing something weird, then the mother brushes her hair. Even worse is when the chicken starts bleeding and the mother reacts to it in a bizarre manner.

    This is my least favourite of Lynch's films, for the simple fact that I never was interested in what little story there was. It didn't seem to go anywhere and for me to be invested in a film it has to be telling a story, one that I can understand, comprehend, or at the very least, try to look more into. Eraserhead did none of this for me. After watching it, I do not really care to watch it again to find any hidden meanings or to try and understand whatever it is that I missed from the first viewing. I can go on in life saying that Eraserhead did nothing for me and of course be hated for it, but whatever.

    But never say never right? Who knows, maybe one day down the road I'll get a chance to watch this so called 'masterpiece' again, and think it's brilliant. Until then, I'll say not.
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