I first saw Eraserhead in an impromptu showing, in an underground nightclub in a derelict building. Very fitting surroundings, really. I was young and thought it funny, shocking, artistic, and very original. After twenty one years of parenting a severely autistic child/now man, I also recommend this film - alongside such quirky bedfellows as "Groundhog Day" and "There's Something About Mary" - to anyone who asks for insight into autism or life with an autistic person. This may be very politically incorrect, but what else should I recommend? Not "Rain Man". It's a fantasy.
"Groundhog Day" contains the main message for surviving autism. There is reward and salvation in embracing all the repetition. "Something About Mary" I love because it is a film where you don't get the hand of the gorgeous girl unless you genuinely love her disabled brother, too. Ha ha.
So why "Eraserhead"? Well, my son sees things differently because of his autism, in a life fraught with anxieties. When taken to view the magnificent Humber Bridge he drew a giant cat, because a real one miles away in the distance was worrying him. He likes to draw brass instruments starting with the holes. He believes he is Bernard, the mouse from the Disney film, "The Rescuers". He draws portraits of himself captioned, "Bernard's Yellow Egg-Scrambled Face." He is terrified of butterflies, mashed potato and DVD players. Before he can sit down even in his own house, he has to check a thousand little things to make sure they look the way he wants: the lights, plug sockets, curtains, electrical equipment, fridges, taps, rugs, vases, plates, cups, food. Everything. All the time. Many times a day.
So. As much as I wish I could still see this excellent film as a horror movie, I can't. I still find it quite funny - I have never lost my sense of humour. But it no longer seems frightening or weird to me. I've become impervious to surrealism. I live it, and nowadays I like it.
So, you can't lose. This movie will entertain you, and without your knowing it, it might make you a better person. It's fiction, but it's not fantasy. In fact in places, it's almost a documentary! See it.