I’ve been on something of a DAVID LYNCH kick this year. I recently re-watched his version of DUNE (which was both as incredible and as terrible as I remember), and I’m about a third of the way through TWIN PEAKS (again). But I think the Lynch film that had the biggest impact on me was his first movie, ERASERHEAD. When I recommended CARNIVAL OF SOULS a couple of weeks ago, I talked about BBC’s MOVIEDROME. ERASERHEAD was another movie I discovered through the series, and some thirty years later, I’ve never seen another film like it.
The most accurate review of ERASERHEAD I’ve found said (and I’m paraphrasing here, because I can’t remember the exact wording or the source), that watching the movie is “like having your face pushed into a dirty pillow for ninety minutes”.
Henry Spencer is a hapless factory worker on his vacation when he finds out he’s the father of a hideously deformed baby. Now living with his unhappy, malcontent girlfriend, the child cries day and night, driving Henry and his girlfriend to near insanity.
There’s little point trying to review ERASERHEAD or provide a commentary on its hidden meanings and symbolism. I genuinely don’t know if it has hidden meanings or symbolism. Search the internet and you’ll see that many, many folks have offered up their explanations, but I don’t think they count for anything. To my mind, you don’t watch a film like ERASERHEAD to try and understand it – what matters most is the experience, and how it makes you feel.
Take my word for it, it’ll make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe frightened. Maybe a little bit sick. The lady in the radiator still unnerves me after all these years.
I’ve watched this film countless times and I never tire of it. It exists in its own universe, where things are very much like they are in our universe, but also completely different. It makes complete sense, and also no sense. You can talk someone through the story scene by scene, but when you look back at the whole movie, it’s like a fever dream. I think that’s what I love about it most. It’s like a dream. It’s probably the only time I’ve watched something that replicates the feeling you get when you wake up from a nightmare – the images you recall and the feelings you can still feel seem to initially be cohesive and complete, but the more you think about them, the more gaps appear.
I adore this film. Some of you will like it, many will hate it. Many won’t make it all the way through. This is the first time I’ve written a recommendation for this website in advance of a re-watch – most of the time I do so after watching a film again – but as I said at the outset, there’s nothing else like ERASERHEAD.
I don’t know if the movie is streaming anywhere, but you can pick up the film as a download or on blu ray or DVD from all the usual places.