Friday, October 1, 2010

Film #43: Eraserhead (1977)

People, calm down and listen to me carefully…PANIC!
A lunatic is walking free through the streets of California! And we’re not talking about the governor.
Another, more hostile crazy person is on the loose in Hollywood, and instead of locking this batty gent up, people pay him millions and sing praises to his demented art!
Rustle up a Lynch mob, and let’s all hunt down the obviously insane director/writer/creeper David Lynch before he hurts our psyche again!

Oh and he does hurt us. His films murder our appetite for meat, slash our mental solace, and oppress our positive outlook with each gross/horrifying/beautiful movie frame.
And when this demented fiend is finally put before the Culture Court, let the prosecution submit the 1977 film Eraserhead as Exhibit A proof that Lynch is nuttier than a stack of elephant sh*t.

This is the part of the blog where a film synopsis typically goes. But since Eraserhead isn’t your typical movie – you know, with a straight-line plot grounded in reality – we’ll just do our best to give you the gist of this 90 minute acid trip.

Bachelor and hair-maverick Henry Spencer is “on vacation” from his job in the printing industry, which leaves him plenty of time to wander around his desolate, industrialized stink pit of a town. When he gets home one day from a trip to the market, his seemingly drugged out yet sexy neighbor tells him that he got a call on the public phone from his girlfriend Mary X, who invited him to her parent’s house for dinner.
It is a dinner that will forever change Spencer’s life – and the movie viewer’s appetite for Cornish hens.

Mary had been avoiding Henry lately, so Henry finds it strange she would pick now to have him meet her parents. Something must be up. He’s received into the X home with a level of weirdness that transcends your typical meet-the-parents uncomfortableness.

After some random, incoherent screaming sessions from Mary and her Mum, Mrs. X, the group retires to a feast of man-made meat with a side of awkward.
Finally, Mrs. X sheds some light on what’s up. Seems Henry and Mary recently had “sexual intercourse,” and though it had only been a few weeks, Mary has given birth to a hideous monster-mutant-sperm looking “child”!

Break out the shotgun! Our young haters are forced into marriage, and shack up in Henry’s one room apartment with their screeching wet-dinosaur-meets-overgrown-male-sperm-worm “baby.”

Henry and Mary don’t take well to their instant nuclear-waste family, and soon Henry starts to fall into delusions of horrific proportions (including his head popping off and being turned into pencil erasers).
As the two try to care for their beast-baby, pressure and insanity grows. Factor in the sexy neighbor who is suddenly hot in the junk for Henry, and we have ourselves a good olde fashioned carnival of crazy!

That’s about all the rational explanation we can give you folks. Everything else is pretty much an avant-garde freak show of horrific, arty scenes open for individual interpretation. We’ll tell you this though, it all leads up to an ending that is so mind-blowing strange and gross that the RDHP both nearly lost their Lunchables on the computer monitor. In other words, only our smiles kept the puke in check!

Bring the barf bag, and don’t expect to sleep quietly for a month, as cracker-on-the-loose David Lynch forces you into his excruciatingly horrible mental state with the 1977 film “Eraserhead.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 4.4
Chris Dimick mutant-cries:
“This movie is visual birth-control. Becoming a parent can be a beautiful thing, or so I’m unconvincingly told. But when a birth is unwanted, it is easy to conclude that becoming a parent can be a thing of horror. David Lynch perfectly displays this scenario in Eraserhead. Never have I seen an artist better than Lynch who can use the medium of film to convey true feelings of anxiety, depression and terror.

Yes, Lynch isn’t your typical storyteller. And Eraserhead is not a popcorn movie you throw in on a sunny day to pass the time. The film is pumped full of raw human emotion. Since it is a film and not reality, Lynch understands that he has to employ unique techniques to get the audience into his world.
He doesn’t want the watcher to just passively empathize with the movie characters, but actually experience what they are feeling. Lynch does this perfectly through well-framed metaphors and use of extremely disturbing images and sounds. The effect is beautiful and pants-peeingly awful.

For example, in one scene Henry is lying in bed with his unloving wife Mary as their mutant child’s screams keep him awake. You can tell Henry has grown disgusted by Mary and his situation, but Lynch drives this point home by making the viewer feel disgusted by her as well.
He cranks up the audio to 11 on the sound of her eyes slimily moving under her lids as she sleeps. Henry then reaches down under the covers, and apparently begins to pull huge mutated, floppy sperm from between her legs, symbolizing how he, post-birth, thinks of her as a warped baby factory, and not an object of his desire.
This is better than 3D. It is truly immersive cinema. We don’t just know Henry’s disgust, we feel it with him.

Another example: we all know meeting a non-serious boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents for the first time is gut-bustingly nerve racking and at least a little awkward. It is like, “Hi Mr/Mrs Parent, I’m the flavor of the month who’s feeling up your kid!” Lynch makes you feel this awkwardness by filling the holes in Henry and Mrs. X conversations with blasted sounds of puppies in a room corner sucking on their mother dog’s nibbles. Only Henry seems to notice this, making the situation even more uncomfortable. The weirdness continues in the next scene, when several characters break out in seizure type fits during conversation, with only Henry once again taking notice.

Eraserhead is like one of those bizarre nightmares where everything is awful, depressing, distorted and horrifying. While nearly all of Lynch’s film efforts attempt to evoke this experience, Eraserhead does it best. You are not so much watching a movie as you are watching moving modern art. It’s an abstract art masterpiece, centered on the terror that can come with pregnancy and parenting.

Even if a person sees too many “cute” babies in the arms of friends and gets to the irrational point of wanting life-sucking children; everyone wants a healthy baby. Most people’s worst nightmare during pregnancy is having a child that is impaired or deformed, or even worse, possessed by a demon (a common problem, as we all know).
Lynch perfectly taps into this fear, and exploits it with his over-the-top, perverted reality.

The meaning of the movie is open to debate. But I feel it is a study of a disturbed man who goes completely bonkers when faced with parenting a disabled child. Lynch shows this story in his own crazy way.

Parts of the movie might not make sense, and sometimes the level of gross employed by Lynch borders on too much, but damn it if this insane nightmare isn’t captivating to watch.
And you don’t really watch a Lynch film, you experience it. Isn’t that point of cinema?”

N-Rating: 3.8
Nick Rich mutant-cries:
“Emptiness is filled with substance and nothingness.
Blank walls should remain blank unless you need them to be blank.
Women are the space for desire and the desire for space.
Thoughts are like memories you think about before the first thought of your day pops into your head.
Snails come out when it rains but don't move for three hours so they can become paste on the bottom of your shoe.
Crunch, shock, slime, gooey-gooey, scrape, crunch.
Take the laundry upstairs.
Life is a show we live to watch and watch without thinking about.

If you're wondering what you just read, well, you should. Said babble was my attempt to duplicate the experience of watching this week's harrowing tale of hair-licious horror Eraserhead. While I agree with most of what Chris said (watching Eraserhead is a visceral experience) I'm not sure if this film is for everyone - strike that: I know this film is not for everyone.
(Case in point: I knew going into Eraserhead that my wife had seen it years before. When she arrived home and saw that we were watching it, she flatly told me "I will not discuss that movie." When I inquired why after the viewing, she simply said "you saw it. You should know why." Yeeeeah.)
If you're a fan of horror you should definitely check it out - but only if you're a committed fan. David Lynch films are not for the faint of viewing, and if you are not up for some adventure and experimentation this film will bore, revile and scar you. On the other hand, if you are a true fan of horror and are up for some adventure and experimentation this fill will bore, revile and scar you. You need to know that going it.

Such is the point of a David Lynch film (in my opinion), he makes you feel stuff. Whether you want to feel it or not, or should feel it or not is entirely irrelevant to Mr. Lynch.
Only that you feel.
And feel you will... just not necessarily feelings you want to experience when employing the good ol' escapism of cinema.

This is the main reason I couldn't bring myself to rise above a 4 for Eraserhead. Was it a unique film? Yes. Does it evoke feelings in the viewer? Absolutely. Are these sufficient reasons to check out a film that has the potential to permanently scar your psyche? Possibly not. Remember: just because man has reached the point where he can strap a jet engine onto his car, doesn't mean he should.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you want to relive that lovely feeling of awkwardness that puberty brings... or if you've ever wondered what a descent into madness feels like."

Things We Learned from Eraserhead:
-Space isn’t silent. It sounds like an airplane engine.
-Eraserhead looks like Nick’s cousin.
-A paralyzed arm can be rejuvenated by rubbing.
-Pipes don’t grow in homes.
-Man-made chickens have blood problems.
-Nick and Chris know the words to Weird Science.
-Pencilhead is the sequel to Eraserhead.
-Mutant children really hurt your sex life.
-All David Lynch movies make you feel horrible.
-Pencil erasers are made with human brains:

Quote of the Viewing
[The opening shot of Henry Spencer shows a giant, worm-like sperm being pulled out of his mouth]
Chris: “Yikes, what did he have for lunch?”
Nick: “That looks like sperm.”
Chris: “There’s your answer, it was a liquid lunch.”

RDHP Presents:
More “Visual Birth Control”
From the monster sperm baby to the general weirdness revolving around reproduction, Eraserhead acts as “visual birth control,” according to Chris. Here, the RDHP presents other “visual birth control” that makes your average person head to the vasectomy clinic.

Some of the unruly kids on this show make Regan from the The Exorcist look like Shirley Temple. Kids can really be this out of control and bratty? That’s it, we’re going to stand in front of the waist high microwave for a few hours.

The Duggar Family
Just seeing all those damn children running around makes one equate human reproduction to that of a possum. This is an insult to reproduction. Pass the two liters of Mountain Dew… it’s time to scramble those eggs!

9th Grade Health Class Child-Birth Videos
The sadists that are educators know what they are doing when they show this to still impressionable youth. “You want to hide the pickle in the cookie jar, eh? Well, be prepared to squeeze a watermelon through your quarter-sized ho-ha!”

Crap-Filled Diapers
We’ve heard the stories from parents. Feces oozing from the diaper up the kids back and into their hair. Kids shooting vomit and piss into their parent’s mouths! And the mere humiliating fact you have to stick your hand in someone else’s sh*t filled ass? PASS!

Jersey Show Cast (Reality TV)
Chunks of dog crap are more productive in society than these a-holes. Seeing such self-centered, idiotic, classless, worthless freaks paraded around as “celebrities” makes one realize that it is not fair to bring a child into such an awful, disturbed, and pointless world. That, and your child could come out like Snooki... best to just avoid that all together.

On the Other Hand…
Okay, okay, we are being really hard on reproduction this week. Therefore, here is a little something for all the breeders out there…. A PARADE OF CUTE BABY PICTURES!

1 comment:

  1. Quite a movie to watch - it does sum up all of the short films he made before.