ERASERHEAD

HOME REVIEWS FEO'S STUFF FEO AMANTE THEATER SCIENCE MOMENT UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
FEO FEED BACK?
NEWS?
SUBMISSIONS?
Read:
SUBMISSION
GUIDELINES

MOVIES
FEO AMANTE THEATER
My Short Films
LAST CALL

THE NIGHT MY MONSTER DIED
SCIENCE MOMENT
TOP TEN SCARY MOVIES
UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
RACIAL CLICHÉ RESPONSE
INTERVIEWS

STORY TIME

COMICS

CONS

HORRIBLE NEWS
Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Eraserhead
Bookmark and Share
SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
ERASERHEAD - 1977
USA Release: Feb. 3, 1978
American Film Institute (AFI), Libra Films
Rating: Argentina, Iceland, Netherlands: 16 / Australia: M / Canada: R / Denmark: 7 / Finland: K-14 / France:-16 / West Germany, Ireland: 18 / Singapore: PG / Norway, South Korea, Sweden: 15 / Portugal: M/16 / Spain: 13 / UK: 15, UK: X (original rating) / USA: Unrated

I discovered ERASERHEAD in an arthouse cinema, where apparently, it'd been playing for years. A friend took me to see it with promises of strange weirdness. This was due to a conversation about a week earlier when she challenged me on my strange weirdness quotient and I said something to the effect of, "The Weirder the better."

Though she took me on this tour of the weird (in Seattle no less), what I didn't know was that she'd never experienced ERASERHEAD herself, but wanted to knock this young (at that time) Horror Thriller movie know-it-all down a few pegs. She used the week in-between time to ask around, hoping to find something around which even I could not affect a jaded air. What she didn't know was that I wasn't being presumptuous, I really WAS looking for something to knock me on my ass. And what SHE didn't know was that, when it came to Horror Thriller strange weirdness, ERASERHEAD would be more than she bargained for.

Even today, ERASERHEAD is Director David Lynch's most twisted vision ever. It's possibly the weirdest movie ever made. Anyone trying to raise the bar on this one has failed so far. It's seemingly impossible to make a film more bizarre than ERASERHEAD and still remain coherent.

ERASERHEAD starts with a wide-eyed and fearful Henry Spencer (Jack "John" Nance: THE BLOB [1988]). Henry might be having a bad dream. There's a lot of unexplainable imagery here, compounded by a sound that would make hard-core industrial bands bow in supplication. But unlike most films, Lynch takes an almost silent picture ethos to his black and white movie.

There is little dialogue, no ambient noise, just an intimidating mix of ancient, mechanical, industrial sounds.

This isn't a movie about robots, though the rotting, backward world of dystopian industry is the backdrop. Everything mechanical struggles mindlessly to work. There is no efficiency, only gearshift mediocrity. Everything works, just barely. There is a rock, or maybe a planet, and within that planet is a man with a severe, disfiguring skin disease. He sits by a window, painfully twitching and shuddering in the dark. He reaches out to some gears in front of him and pulls them toward him, one by one. Each time he does, something changes in Henry's dream. Somewhere a steam whistle screams.

Awake, Henry fearfully makes his way across an industrialized landscape of barren soil, indifferent towering buildings, and factories. All the while, he clutches a bag to his chest. At the end of his journey, there is no discernable reason for the bag. Henry, like many of the people in this film, has unexplained reasons for doing what he does, routines that they follow suggesting that Horror and evil isn't found in unreasonable chaos, but in unreasonable order.

For me, watching ERASERHEAD makes me think of untold millennia of people doing what they do because "This is the way we've always done it.", long after the reason behind it ceased to exist. The city grows on top of its decay. Plumbing and wiring awkwardly run through it: printshops, hospitals, and all of the other dross of infrastructure without purpose. It doesn't make anyone's life better, it might even make their lives worse, but it gives them a place to be as they live out their existence.

Henry makes it home through this dark passionless city, to his anonymous apartment building, and rides a slow and faltering elevator up to his floor. His neighbor (Judith Roberts: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, DEAD SILENCE), a beautiful woman with a hungry expression, delivers a message.

We get a glimpse into the tidy yet decrepit little studio apartment Henry calls home. Small even for a hotel room, there are areas that appear to be little more than a well arranged rat's nest: perhaps a carefully arranged lump of pine needles. A plant sits on his bedside table in a mound of dirt - no pot - piled up on the small table. And yet the dirt and plant are neat and well tended.

What this opening scene does is draw us into a world far different from our experience, yet recognizable in so many unsettling ways: A nightmarish world of loss and alien noise. While nothing scary has happened in these opening minutes, we are sitting there plucked from our comfort zone.

Responding to the message, Henry gets dressed nicely, complete with pocket protector, and goes to visit his erstwhile girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart: TREMORS, TREMORS 3). What happens next is the worst meet-the-parents ever committed to film. If someone in the scene pulled out a gun or even a chainsaw, it could not have been worse. Yet at the same time, through this depressive mire of staggered, damaged lives, there is a lot of morbid humor that makes you choke on your laughter.

Henry soon discovers a few things about his girlfriend's family. Mary has some kind of inherited physical syndrome. Mary's Mother has a creepy crush on Henry, and the reason Mary hasn't been around lately is that she got pregnant and gave birth to... something.

Mary: "The doctor's aren't sure it even IS a baby!"

Pressed into marriage out of propriety rather than love, Henry's horrible life gets worse. While Henry tries to make the best of a bad situation, his tiny apartment isn't big enough for two people and now there's a third with the baby. And I'm telling you, if you've never seen ERASERHEAD, this is the ugliest baby in cinema. The baby in IT'S ALIVE and BASKET CASE have nothing on the ERASERHEAD baby. And even if you've seen photos of the baby? That still doesn't carry off the sympathetic terror of this child as when you see it move, interact, and hear it cry.

ERASERHEAD was David Lynch's first film and, due to budget constraints, it took him five years to make.

As a big time Horror Thriller fan, I've known people who belong to a specific group of Horror fans. They like to go to Horror movies to NOT be scared. They like to brag that such and such scary movie didn't phase them: they were bored.

ERASERHEAD cuts through such posturing. Through the years I've also known a few people who, after watching it, first claimed that it meant nothing to them, only to admit, days after, that it was the only movie that ever gave them nightmares.

It completely immerses you in an experience that many have said is a bad dream committed to film.

One other thing to note. If you only saw ERASERHEAD in arthouse theaters, you should know that you've likely been watching damaged, clipped, picture and sound worn prints. Even the VHS tape of this movie was sub par. The DVD is referred to by David Lynch himself as ERASERHEAD 2000. David didn't do anything stupid to his first born, like Lucas with Star Wars or Spielberg with E.T., he only digitally restored the images to their original master print appearance and cleaned the sound to pristine perfection. Until there is a BLU-RAY copy of ERASERHEAD (UPDATE: And there is), this is as beautiful as this movie has looked since the 1970s. And many of us weren't even alive in the 1970s (well, I was, but I'm hardly many).

ERASERHEAD will get you in touch with some dark places you'd rather not see. Any movie this Horrific gets all 5 ShriekGirls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.

ERASERHEAD
BLU-RAY STREAMING SOUNDTRACK POSTER SHIRT
Eraserhead (1977) on IMDb

Return to Movies

E.C. McMullen Jr. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

GET SOME CLOTHES ON
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
Altered The Rocky Horror Picture Show John Carpenter's THE THING
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
MOVIE REVIEW
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
MOVIE REVIEW
ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES
MOVIE REVIEW
FEO AMANTE'S HORROR THRILLER Created by:
E.C.MULLEN JR.
COME FOLLOW ME -
AMAZON
BLOG
DEVIANT ART
ECMJR
FACEBOOK
IMDB
PANDORA
ROTTEN TOMATOES
STAGE32
TWITTER
YOUTUBE
ZAZZLE SHOP

 

LOVE THIS SITE?
Support it when you buy from

E.C. McMullen Jr.
WILLOW BLUE
Willow Blue
"'Willow Blue' will burrow under your skin and stay there long after you've put the book down."
- Jeffrey Reddick, Creator of
FINAL DESTINATION

PERPETUAL BULLET
Perpetual Bullet Paperback
"'Some People' ... may be the standout story in the book."
- John Grant, Infinityplus

IN OTHER BOOKS
E.C. McMullen Jr.'s

short story
CEDO LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE
in the anthology
FEAR THE REAPER
Fear The Reaper
"This Ray Bradbury-esque is one of the most memorable and one of the more original stories I've read in a long time."
- Amazon Review

HORROR 201: The Silver Scream
PAPERBACK

Horror 201: The Silver Scream
Filmmaker's Guidebook
featuring
RAY BRADBURY,
JOHN CARPENTER,
WES CRAVEN,
TOM HOLLAND,
E.C. McMULLEN Jr.,
ED NAHA,
GEORGE A. ROMERO,
and many more.

Extensively quoted in
Phantasm Exhumed
PHANTASM EXHUMED
The Unauthorized Companion


Robert S. Rhine's
SATAN'S 3-RING CIRCUS OF HELL
Satan's 3-Ring Circus of Hell

Forward by
GAHAN WILSON,
FEO AMANTE.
Featuring comics by
WILLIAM STOUT,
HILARY BARTA,
STEVE BISSETTE,
SPAIN RODRIGUEZ,
FRANK DIETZ,
JIM SMITH,
TONE RODRIGUEZ,
FRANK FORTE,
ERIC PIGORS,
ALEX PARDEE,
MIKE SOSNOWSKI,
OMAHA PEREZ,
DAVID HARTMAN,
D.W. FRYDENDALL,
SHANNON WHEELER,
VINCENT WALLER,
JACOB HAIR,
NENAD GUCUNJA,
STEVEN MANNION,
NORMAN CABRERA,
and more!

ALSO
IN CINEMA
E.C. McMullen Jr.

HEAD PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Mine Games
MINE GAMES
(Starring:
JOSEPH CROSS, ALEX MERAZ, BRIANA EVIGAN)

Dept. head
SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKE-UP
(SFX MUA) and Michael Madsen's stunt double on the movie
A Sierra Nevada Gunfight
A SIERRA NEVADA GUNFIGHT
(Starring:
MICHAEL MADSEN and JOHN SAVAGE).

PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Universal Dead
UNIVERSAL DEAD
(Starring:
DOUG JONES, D.B. SWEENEY, GARY GRAHAM)

ART DIRECTOR
The Crusader THE CRUSADER
(Starring COLIN CUNNINGHAM, GARY GRAHAM)

I will take you home...Feo Amante's Horror Home Page, Feo Amante's Horror Thriller, and feoamante.com are owned and
Copyright 1997 - 2018 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
FAIR USE - PRIVACY POLICY - OWNERSHIP - CONTACT
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.