David Lynch made a groundbreaking debut in the context of indie and defiantly non-mainstream cinema – and, in turn, established himself as someone who’s committed to perennially operate outside conventional yardsticks – with the low-budget, surrealistic and nightmarish Eraserhead. Made over a period of 7 years, and shot in grainy and expressionistic B/W, the discomfiting, strangely hypnotic, darkly funny and heavily experimental body horror film presented a bleak and grimy vision of urban industrial grunge and dystopia. Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), a blank-faced and mild-mannered man with an outrageous hairdo, lives with his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) in a cramped, claustrophobic apartment located in the middle of an industrial wasteland. Upon returning home one day he’s informed by his sultry next door neighbor (Judith Anna Roberts) that Mary has gone to her parents’ and he’s invited there for dinner. There, in what was for me the film’s most deliriously memorable sequence, he meets Mary’s hilariously oddball parents over a bizarre dinner, and is informed in a rather awkward fashion that Mary has given birth to their child; as is eventually revealed, the child is an grotesque looking creature with a reptilian head and bandages serving as its skin. Despite its “unnatural” appearance – what is “natural” and conventional in a world obsessed with normalcy and conformism, possibly remains the film’s most incisive indication – Henry develops a surprising soft corner for the mutated baby; however, when Mary is driven out, in a moment of crazy fit, by the baby’s incessant wailing, and a possible tryst with his luscious neighbor remains unfulfilled, his fragile outer and chaotic inner worlds collapse into a miry, outlandish cesspool that made the film’s weirdness quotient crash through the ceiling.
Director: David Lynch
Genre: Body Horror/Surrealist Film/Experimental Film