JOHN: This is what movies could be but choose not to—like a nightmare you wake up from and wonder if it were real.
SPANKY: There are three things that stay with you years after leaving it: 1) the protagonist walking along after his father’s stroke and finding a cut-off ear in the grass, 2) the songs “Blue Velvet” and “In Dreams“ performed with their weird context instead of blaring off of a portable radio, 3) Isabella Rosellini telling her young savior to hit her making love.
JOHN: And he does hit her. At the end, though the plot is resolved, the troubling subtext is free to go on and on and on.
SPANKY: Who would go to such a film? I’m sure that is why others never followed David Lynch. More than a romantic entertainment for date night, more than an action flick for pre-teens. A film that changes who you are and how you see life.
JOHN: Creepy, beyond what we want, beyond what we need. But we can’t look away.
SPANKY: 4 Barks out of 4
JOHN: 4 GOs out of 4
ERASERHEAD, David Lynch, 1976
HOOK: A movie of male postpartum depression that leaves you cheering for infanticide.
STORY: Wild haired Henry (John Nance) has a marginal relationship with a hysterical girl. They have a baby that looks like a skinned goat wrapped like a mummy in swaddling clothes (the bandages turn out to be part of its body, which at the end bursts open revealing a mess of entrails that begin to foam and fill the room). The girl cannot tolerate the baby’s screaming. Industrial noise permeates the room amid images of slime, ooze and small, wriggling things. Then the story gets really weird.
GOSSIP: Lynch spent the five years that it took him to complete Eraserhead broke in Philadelphia, a city he hated that in the ‘70s was sinking into post-industrialized decay. Meanwhile, he found himself accidently saddled with a family he didn’t want. Sound familiar, Henry?
JOHN: One of the strangest of all films, it is more experience than story with its giant unseen machines constantly working, spewing smoke, making an inescapable dirge. You’re not exactly leaving the theater whistling a happy tune after Henry stabs the baby to death with a pair of scissors, then electrocutes himself with one of the apartment’s light fixtures. The black and white images are razor sharp, unfortunately. You might consider some other picture if you’re looking for a date flick.
GO GO GO (3 GOs out of four)
SPANKY: I like the deleted clip where Nance’s leg is wired to a dead cat and the part where the woman in the radiator (with chipmunk cheeks) sings “In heaven everything will be fine.” Fun stuff, but as far as this film goes there’s a fine line between high art and dog shit that Lynch merrily crosses (even if he is pulling our leg instead of the dead cat).
“TWO PAWS DOWN” (1 BARK out of four)
KEEPER: “I didn’t know if you wanted me to come around or not.”
Posted in cult films, dogs, film, film classics, horror, John Lehman, movie review, movies
Tagged 1970s, Black and White, David Lynch, Eraserhead, horror, John Nance, Surreal