Monday, June 3, 2013

Eraserhead (1977)


Go HERE to watch the full movie.

Written, Produced, & Directed by DAVID LYNCH


"Be warned. The nightmare has not gone away..."

"In Heaven Everything Is Fine."

"A dream of dark and troubling things"

- - - - - - - - - - -

As the taglines imply, this movie will keep you floating in a weird & troubling dream-like state of mind. It's dark - technically and thematically speaking. It requires an open mind, a desire to watch something new or challenging, and rapt attention for the viewer to fully appreciate it. Eraserhead is the kind of film where you can analyze it for years and still you wouldn't be 100% sure. Watch it with ten of your friends and you'll get different opinions and interpetations. 


First few minutes, I was reminded of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The long, lingering shots. The seemingly random images or sequence. The unsettling sound. It takes you out of your movietime comfort zone. And I liked it. So I continued watching. 

The first scene, I have to admit, I didn't get. I had to rewind it to somehow make sense of it. Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) appears to be dazed, seeing that weird brown thing in space or wherever. And then there's a shot of a weird man who I first thought to be sitting in a toilet, covered in poop. And there's this giant sperm-like, snake-like thing coming out of Henry's mouth. I was watching it with a friend, and we had different opinions of what it was. I said it looks like sperm, she said it looks like a fetus. Then we both replied at the same time, (me) "Well, that's a loooong fetus don't you think?" & (she) "That's a giant sperm hahaha!" 

That being said, while the movie at 'first glance' lacks obvious coherence in most parts, this one I can honestly say has truly fascinated me. It kept me glued. The ambient sounds, Henry Spencer with his funny hair/dazed look/outfit, the disturbingly cute deformed baby, the bleak industrial setting, the striking imagery, the photography and lighting, Henry and his radiator moments - it's all one hell of an acid trip (not that I know how being high on acid feels like lol). Most of the scenes leave me scratching my head and I had to rewind, and yet I really didn't mind. I love that i felt mystified, fascinated, disturbed, hooked. It's like a drug. It's awesome. Like staring at an abstract painting - you can't look away because even if you don't really understand it, the way it connects to your soul and senses is intoxicating. It's a special form of art. And like anything abstract, some think it's beautiful art, while some scoff at it and label it as self-indulgent crap. It's just a matter of perspective. 


(Disclaimer:  This may be total horse crap and my thoughts are irrelevant. But still.... humor me, and i'll humor you.) 

(This contains spoilers, if you haven't watched the film yet, just skip this part and go straight to The Verdict)

I just want to share what I got from the film. Just my opinion. First of all, this should be re-titled "The Sperm" - so much emphasis on that very potent little wiggly thing and its effects was put in this film it astounded me how it affected me deeply to see them floating or falling or getting squished. LOL. 

So what's up with the deformed lever man (Man in the Planet)? The man pulling levers & dropping sperms on a hot, wet hole means "men + sex = babies". Really, it's all about the sperm =D The man's deformity is probably symbolic of Henry's aversion to the idea of fatherhood. He thinks it's dirty. It's an unspeakable horror. Or maybe it's God.. The first few minutes of the film either depicts the act of coitus or childbirth (the scene where the camera slowly zooms out of a hole). The next shot is that of Henry's scared or disgusted expression - which suggests that the first scene was all in his head and that he is really aversed to the idea of fathering a child, or sex is always in his mind (unless, it's an alien movie, and Mr. Lever Man sent Henry from their planet through the hole, and Henry was looking up, missing his home planet LOL).

Basically , the movie is all about Henry's sexual urges and his fear of the responsibility of being a father. The radiator is like his mind, what's inside it (The Lady in the Radiator) is his subconscious, his escape. 

The beheading scene also shows his head falling, being replaced by something that resembles a giant penis (or can also be his baby's head), signifying that he has now given in, thinking with his "other" head.... giving in to his sins.. fast forward to the pencil factory where his head was made into an eraser... I think Henry would love to erase all those bad stuff in his head... erase your head. lol

The baby, in a way can also be a symbol of Henry's penis or his sexual urges.. his sins... all throughout the movie, the baby's cries are constant, like the film's sexual undercurrents. When Henry tries to get away from it, the baby cries, then Henry comes back, he tries to leave again, it cries, he comes back - it's like he wants to escape from his urges, and yet he can't. The film's climax involves him killing his baby, and in result, him "going to heaven, where everything is fine" and hugging Miss Lady cheek-balls in the Radiator - it can mean that he is free from his sexual obsession/urges and he feels relieved... OR he literally killed his baby, freeing himself from the burdens of fatherhood... and he feels relieved... or shamed. i dont know O_O  At times I felt that the baby IS Henry, the thing which Mary was trying to feed is Henry, and when the baby was sick and Henry said "You really are sick!!" I felt that he meant HE is sick. He has a sick mind. A troubled soul. And now this overthinking is troubling MY soul. O_O

Henry's room is dirty. He hides worms in his cabinet, even nurtures it. He has all sorts of weird stuff in his drawer... It's a symbol of darkness inside him. Dark secrets, sins. To be honest, that pot-less dead plant with soil in his night table confused me. I was like why the hell is there no pot in there? Dirty, dirty Henry.

I've read that David Lynch's inspiration for this movie is from a bible verse, and though I haven't read him saying which verse it is, this is spot on with the themes of the movie.
Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.  - James 1:15


  • When Mary decided to leave Henry & the baby, and she was reaching under the bed - the repetitive banging or clanging while she's trying to get something is an example of Lynch's unique mind. To unsettle you with a scene where you have no idea what the hell the character is doing. The randomness of that scene was genius (in a movie where everything seems random). 

  • When Mary kept on trying to feed the baby, and there's a close up shot of the baby whimpering and shaking his head, refusing the food. Something adorable and disturbing about it.
  • The chicken/table scene. Level of weirdness: Addams Family. 


Disturbed:  all throughout the film, you feel the eerie setting, the almost dissonant industrial ambient sounds, the flickering lights, the baby's cries, the darkness, the weirdness -- it creeps on you slowly but steadily, like a nightmare but you're awake. You get a good look inside Henry's mind, and feel some sort of paranoid neurosis, still you are hypnotized. The climax was one sick ending, I was glued to each movement, my heart racing, I was truly disturbed by the baby's fate, and my nerves tingling along with the flickering of the lights and the chaotic images Henry was seeing. 

Weirded-out:  I never thought I would feel sorry for sperm-like creatures being squished by a lady. The Lady in the Radiator with balls for cheeks is a damn weird one. O_O

Confused:  by a lot of things. 

Happy:  I get that feeling when I watch a film that satisfies me. While this one left me with alot of questions hanging in my head, still, THIS IS SUBLIME. It made me happy, like finding a rare book in a second-hand bookstore.

When the movie ended, my friend asked me for my thoughts. All I was able to say was, "I want to watch this freaking movie in a wide screen." With an open-mouthed expression. 

The Verdict:

Eraserhead is terrifying in such a way that it takes you in, unsettles you, includes you in Henry's nightmarish world, and fascinates you with it's striking visuals and camera shots, unnerves you with the grating almost mechanical musical score, and keeps you intrigued with its two lead stars: Henry and the baby. I sat and watched, fascinated & unnerved at the same time, not wanting to see the ugliness of it all and yet I know for sure that I will watch this again as soon as possible. And therein lies this film's beauty. 

My Rating:  4.5/5

Really not for everybody.... But I suggest you watch it if only to see Jack Nance's enigmatic facial expressions and cool hairstyle. That's one movie character I will never forget. And this is one movie that I will continue to re-watch for reasons pretty much like why people keep on looking at works of art, as if there's a secret hidden in it.

What's your most unforgettable or favorite scene from Eraserhead?

Check out Brad Pitt's version of Henry Spencer --> Touch of Evil: Cinematic Villainy

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  1. Well written review I must say, as this film is hard to describe w/out seeing it for ones self... For me, I saw a film that was basically pointing to casual sex, the wanting to orgam, with no planned agenda but to arise at orgam.... Very irresponsible sex, which would have explained the lost expressions, darkness that fed into our minds watching this film, and the many odd distractions throughout the film overall... I feel it represented abortion in many parts, especially the fetuses pulled from mary in their bed and thrown onto the wall,representing NO COMMITMENT IN RESPONSIBILITY ...... Just have sex wth no agenda of being a parent.....Careless..... I think the scenes were a bit of imaginary guilt for Henry because he was visualizing these things dark, to escape from reality of his only thinking wth his penis not his brain ( as most men do) Nothing personal fellas if youre reading this, but its a fact... SO to me this movie represented GUILT,CARELESS-SEX,ABORTION,THE DEEP THOUGHTS IN MINDS THAT SURFACE WHEN WE ARE NOT BALANCED IN LIFE..... I enjoyed the film...... And YOU were correct in saying watching was like an ACID TRIP, I have done acid( BIG MISTAKE) but yes, its very similar..... O_O lol Bravo to this film for keeping my un-divided attention in each scene....

    1. thank you :) gave me a headache just writing this. lol... yes i agree with the abortion topic (i meant to include that,i forgot)

      what's your favorite scene?

    2. My fav scene was when Henry went to the door, the baby cried, he tried again? The baby cried... Meaning to myself that, he was seeing a taste of reality is fatherhood (responsibility) :)

    3. my favorite scene is the climax..

      what's your least favorite??

    4. The weird micro-sozed chickens, representing abortion.... that was disgusting at the dinner table ..i almost vomited :'(

    5. that scene is funny... the way the dad say to henry that he'll let him do the honors of carving the chicken... and henry stared at the tiny chick on his plate hahahahahha.... but i agree, the abortion symbolism is really gross....

      my least favorite is scenes with The Lady in the Radiator... she just looks so weird.... and gross. -_-

    6. hahahaahhaha That was a weird scene in the radiator.....O_O no one i would want on my bed lololol that was funny the carving line i agree, that guy was a nut omg that mr chef of the collosal

    7. I really don't get why the mother kissed Henry though..... that was weird

  2. Very good review that summed up my feelings exactly! Eraserhead is a truly great work of art. I cannot stop watching it and trying to figure out what it means. Like all great art, it inspires people to think for themselves by remaining elusive and mysterious. My opinion is Henry is probably schizophrenic. I know a lot about that mental disease and he has all the characteristics. Paranoia, loneliness, confusion, fear, and compulsive behavior, such as his picking holes in his blanket and fidgeting. He lives in this very cold, bleak landscape and is driven to madness by it. All of the dream sequences and hallucinations he has tie into things he sees in his reality, for example, the hole with the sperm being dropped into it is the mud hole outside of Henry's
    window. Also, the girl with the puffy cheeks looks like the image of a nuclear blast up on Henry's
    wall. The film is loaded with symbolism of sex, procreation, and birth. It is also about technology
    taking over the natural world. The baby I think exists in Henry's imagination and is like a version of Frankenstein monster, an abomination he must destroy by destroying himself. I could go on and on about this film, I love it so much. It is disturbing and beautiful. My favorite scene is when Henry is making love to the next door neighbor in his bed bathtub and they sink down together into the white amniotic fluid, then she is in a black void with the planet hovering in front of her and she shrinks away in horror. It is very sensual and disturbing! 5 out of 5 rating for this film. It is a masterpiece.

    1. Wow, I never thought about the schizophrenia angle, but it's really a good way to explain things!! One of my favorite scenes too was when they were in the girl's family's house.. It was just so creepy and humorous at the same time!

  3. Jack Nance was great in the film, I cannot imagine anybody else in that roll! Iconic performance. He is really cute too! I think it is sad that the actor had such a troubled life, but he brought all those troubled feelings to the roll of Henry and it was brilliant! my fav scene is with he is making out with the next door neighbor in a pool of liquid in the middle of his bed, and then they sink down together and it is just her hair floating there! Very sensual and disturbing scene.

  4. oh, sorry for posting again, I was not sure if the first post went through! I liked the family dinner scene too, especially Bills big, creepy grin!



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