Horror 101: Eraserhead (1977)

Hey there, creepy peeps! This is the first of what will be many posts called Horror 101. I’ll link my video below, but to sum it up, I bought a book (101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die by Steven Jay Schneider) and I thought I would be fun to go through the whole book, mark all the movies I haven’t seen, and review them. This series will be exclusively on my blog here and will be structured pretty much identically to my video reviews. So, enjoy the review and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Summary

The first film I’m talking about here is Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977). The film stars Jack Nance as Henry Spencer who is a hapless factory worker on a vacation. Henry finds out that his girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) gave birth to his mutant son and he must now take care of it. The baby’s incessant crying drives Mary crazy and she moves back in with her parents, leaving Henry to take care of the child alone.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best summary I can come up with and it makes the film sound way more normal than it is!

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What I Liked

The only thing I really appreciate about the movie is the fact that Lynch doesn’t want to explain what the movie means and prefers to have viewers draw their own conclusions about it. There’s something commendable in letting the audience decide what a film means to them instead of spoon-feeding them a bunch of metaphors. To be honest, I think I would still admire Lynch even if he didn’t actually know what the movie meant, and he just made some weird-as-hell film and played it off like the point is for us to interpret it. You hear about so many projects that started off as one thing and then turned into something else, I feel like that could easily explain Eraserhead, as well.

I will say the special effects are pretty cool. The mutant baby is so grotesque, and I read that it is still a mystery known only to David Lynch on what the prop was actually made out of. Somehow, I am okay with not knowing that information. The other effects were also really cool, like Henry and Beautiful Girl Across the Hall (Judith Roberts) melting into the bed, that was trippy, but the effect was done well.

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What I Didn't Like

So, Eraserhead is one of those movies where you can’t really turn your brain off and just watch for fun; I couldn’t, at least. And even if you could, why would you want to? The movie is just a bit too weird for me to relax while watching it.

In terms of the story, I just couldn’t get into it. I guess it’s something fun to pick apart in terms of metaphor. I read that a lot of people read the film as Henry being depressed and committing suicide, I’ve also read a theory that the setting is a post-apocalyptic world, hence everything being all industrial.

I also couldn’t connect to any of the characters and that is simply because you aren’t able to get to know any of them; not even Henry. For all I know, that could be the point, but I wasn’t into the plot, so I was hoping to at least have a character or two that I liked.

Was it Worth Watching?

Overall, I just wasn’t into the movie. I think it takes a special kind of person to enjoy it and I am just not that kind of person (no offense whatsoever if you like the film). I absolutely do not plan on watching this again, but I am definitely going to be looking into other people’s reviews of the film; I need to hear what other people thought of it!

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MY RATING: 2/5
IMDB: 7.4/10
ROTTEN TOMATOES: 91%/83%
LETTERBOXD: 3.9/5