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Eraserhead Reviews

Disturbing, repulsive, hilarious, frightening, sensitive and challenging, David Lynch's ERASERHEAD has been aptly described by its creator as a "dream of dark and troubling things," namely fatherhood. A young man, Henry Spencer (Nance), living in a dilapidated apartment building in an industrialized city learns that his girlfriend, Mary X (Stewart), is pregnant. Leaving his room, which seems to be inhabited by spermlike creatures, he visits Mary and her parents--a hyperactive father with a passion for synthetic meat and a mother obsessed with her daughter's sexuality. Grandmother sits in the kitchen, stonelike, maybe dead. Mary moves in with Henry and they begin to take care of their "baby"--a deformed, constantly crying mass of tissue and bandages that looks something like a skinned lamb. The infant is repulsive yet fascinating, as well as sad. Its constant whining drives Mary out of the apartment, leaving Henry alone with the baby. After an accidental tragedy, Henry is hurled into the nightmarish world that has existed on the fringes of his "real" world since the beginning of the film. Five years in the making, ERASERHEAD is not just a film about a man who has nasty dreams. It's a creepily sensuous film that suggests that the "dark and troubling things" we like to repress inhabit dresser drawers, live behind the radiator or lie under the bed. They are part of the environment. This is a nightmare about a man's horror of commitment, sexuality, and adult responsibility. This was the first feature directed by Lynch, a former painter, and it proudly displays its roots in past avant-garde film movements--surrealism and expressionism in particular--while tipping its hat to classic horror films. Lynch has since gone on to become what could be described somewhat paradoxically as the modern Hollywood equivalent of an avant-garde filmmaker but his subsequent career has not lived up to the promise of this extraordinary debut.