“We’ve got chicken tonight, strangest damn things, they’re man made, little damn things, smaller than my fist, but they’re new”Review by Lewis Goodall
Picture this. You take a trip to an art museum. Everyone goes to an art museum every once and a while cause you get to see lovely paintings and intricate sculptures. You’re seeing all this and you’re thinking “wow, the talent these people have”, ” look at this one, it’s so realistic”, “the way they use colour Is beautiful”. You know, the typical things you think when you see a genuinely stunning piece of art. Then you find yourself in the modern art section. The section where someone puts paint up their nose, sneezes it onto a canvas and say “It represents how society treated women in 1956”. This is the section where every piece of art you just look at and think, “why is that on the wall”, “this is stupid”, “how can anyone like this bullshit”. This section is Eraserhead.
David Lynch wrote and directed Eraserhead. This film follows Henry (Jack Nance) a man on vacation from his printing job. During his time off he struggles to navigate through life as he is is bombarded with the industrial surroundings, annoying girlfriend, mary (Charlotte Stewart) and his mutant baby (that’s not me being offensive, it’s actually a mutant baby).
Now I tried to watch this film quite a few years back and I turned it off because I thought it was weird so I never actually finished it. Now I’m more grown, I’ve watched more of a variety of films so I’m more open minded when it comes to directors who are arty and play around with the scene. So I picked it up so I could get more of an experienced opinion on it as I thought, well I didnt like it before but maybe I’ll appreciate it now. I can honestly say, I think that this is a complete fucking awful mess and my past self is smart for turning it off early.
Admitly we start off with some creative imagery. David Lynch being a painter and photographer, this is expected. I studied David Lynch and his photography and I was a big fan of the darkness he conveys in his work so naturally this would extend to his debut film. He should’ve stayed to photography in my opinion. We start off with what seems to be an astral landscape, views of the moon as our main character, Henry is semi transparent, floating around this landscape. We then cut to a disfigured, elephant man looking… man, controlling levers from a shed. Back to Henry, he opens his mouth and what can only be described as an umbilical cord, wiggles it’s way out of his mouth. Quick cut to an industrial looking building with Henry walking outside. From these first 5 minutes you can already tell that the next hour and twenty minutes are going to be a nightmarish journey. From the black and white visuals to the unsettling score, this film does show promise to being the masterpiece that this film apparently is. I should really put masterpiece in quotation marks because this film is far from that.
From being occasionally, visually pleasing, this films offers nothing else in terms of being a viewable, enjoyable experience. From this section at the beginning, we then go on to follow Henry to his apartment when his neighbour (Judith Roberts) tells him that a girl called Mary has invited him round for dinner. Henry makes his way to Mary’s house where he joins them for dinner of very small, man made chickens. From the offset of this dinner scene, it’s where the story starts to get too artsy for it’s own good. The parents are very strange, especially the mum who starts to hyperventilate and licking the air whilst Henry is cutting these miniature chickens. The chickens appear to still be alive as they are moving and blood is coming out of their stuff hole. Everything that seems to happen, happens for no reason, the mum starts screaming for no reason, the dad starts staring at Henry for no reason, Mary starts crying for no reason. Nothing in this scene has context and in fact, this is the theme for the whole film. The mum then takes Henry away to talk privately, she starts asking if he had sex with mary and then kisses his neck. Mary comes in and tells Henry that she has had a mutant baby and it’s his so they have to get married. If this is surrounding weird and doesn’t make sense, then you’d be right, it doesn’t make sense. Now i’m sure people would argue this fact by saying that you have to interpret it how you see it. You draw your own conclusions from what you see. That’s a load of codswallop because i find it very difficult to pull any sort of meaning from a woman screaming and crying because a dwarf chicken is leaking fluids. “The scene represents veganism, the woman is society and is distraught and sad at all the chicken out there that suffer with rectal bleeding”….. Fuck off.
I cant go into all the weird aspects of this film as I’ll be basically rewriting the entire screenplay for the film. From the mutant baby to a woman who lives in Henry’s radiator, to Henry receiving a dried up worm in the post, to Henry losing his head and and kid selling it to someone to make pencils. The film is just filled with so much slag and nonsensical plot points that it is just a clusterfuck of self indulgence where David Lynch has wanted to be too artsy. I know art is subjective and people can take what they want from art, they come to their own conclusions and interpret it how they wish, but when you have to sit there for an hour and 25 minutes then it just becomes too much. There are too many aspects of this movie that frustrated and annoyed me because it was just so uneeded, a small examples is that Henry has a pile of dirt on the bedside table with a stick placed in the top. Its things like that where it is just there for the sake of being there, it annoys me, I cant comprehend how anyone can decipher any sort of meaning for that. It’s pointless.
Many other aspects annoyed me. All the characters annoyed me, there was no redeeming character. All of the actors throughout the film are just annoying, from the constant complaining to the nonsensical facial expressions. The mutant baby annoyed me cause its constantly crying. The scenery annoyed me because there was random piles of hay throughout the apartment. Just in general the story annoyed me because there was alot happening and yet there was nothing too it. The whole time I’m thinking “What the fuck is going on” and theres no satisfying ending. I know not every film has a satisfying ending, if anything I prefer films that dont go for an easy ending because they are different and more realistic. With films that do this and dont end the way you want, when it’s a good film you wish it would carry on, it leaves you wanting more. With Eraserhead I was begging for it to end. So I just in a sense it was a satisfying ending because it ended.
Stanley Kubrick made the cast for ‘The Shining’ watch this film to get in the right mindset whilst preparing to shoot the film. I’m assuming this mindset is ” you see this film…yeah…. we want to make the opposite of this, we want to make a good film”. How anyone can enjoy this prolapse of a film is beyond me, the scariest thing about this horror film is that this is probably someones favourite film. If this is anyone’s favourite film then they need to be lobotamised if they haven’t already been, and if they’re saying it’s their favourite film then the chances are they already have been.
Overall I dont really have any complaints about the film. I kid obviously, I have nothing but complaints for this film. Normally I’m trying to think anything I dont like about a film but with this I’m trying to think of anything I liked. Apart from a couple of nice shots, this ‘masterpiece’ is more of an artistics version of a nightmare which just fails to deliver to anyone other than David Lynch. I feel it’s like when someone is telling you about their dream. Unless the dream is funny, no one wants to hear about that dream because it’s boring to anyone other than the person who had that dream. This film is like David Lynch had a nightmare and thought he’d make a film out of it. The film is there for shock factor, not for story, it’s a horrendous experience that had me wanting to turn it off the whole way, a bit over the top but I even felt like snapping the disc after it ended because It annoyed me so much. Every copy of this film should be buried in the desert alongside all those copies or E.T for the Atari and should never be found.