Well I’m definitely making up for not covering 1001 films for nearly a whole month. Originally I was meant to watch this on Halloween, but I ended up doing my fourth re-watch of Over The Garden Wall and so here I am a week later having watching Eraserhead and wondering what on Earth I just watched. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone has quite worked it out.
Now, it’s not like this is my first time adventuring with David Lynch. Aside from Twin Peaks, I’ve seen Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Fire Walk With Me and (thanks to the husband) Dune. This isn’t some sort of weird flex, but just to say that this isn’t the first time that I have seen his surreal side. I mean, that episode of Twin Peaks: The Return is one of the best of the decade and I’m not sure I still understand what more than 10% of it actually meant.
Eraserhead, whilst also being Lynch’s feature film directorial debut, is probably the longest stretch of time that I have spent in his surreal world. A world that is a nightmare of body horror, singing women who live in the radiator and whatever the Sam Hell prop they used to make the creepiest baby-proxy that I have ever seen. Seriously though, I expected grotesquery from Lynch, but that skinned rabbit puppet (or whatever that was) was something else.
Whilst there is a plot to this movie along the lines of ‘man has one night stand and then ends up looking after a grotesque skinless baby’, this is very much secondary to the atmosphere and mythos that Lynch sought to create. Creations that you see coming up thematically in his later works, right down to the carpet patterns on the floor and the general handmade look of some of the sequences.
Here’s the thing though, with this being his debut, I have seen him do this sort of surrealism in Twin Peaks: The Return and ultimately do it better. Also, since this is a standalone film, there’s little context to anything we’re seeing so it’s all about having to just go with the insanity. Something that, to be honest, I can find quite hard to do as I get a bit too hung up trying to make sense of things rather than going with the flow.
Eraserhead really is one of those films, however, that whilst it didn’t do too much for me, I can understand both how this could have been so influential and how this is film managed to successfully do what it set out to. It’s a brilliantly executed piece of surrealism, but it just turns out that this kind of surrealism just wasn’t made for me. Gonna be haunted by that baby though. That’s going to be in my nightmares tonight.