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on 6 January 2008
First of all, let me say that Eraserhead is not a film for everyone. Many people will find themselves confused by the strange atmosphere, surreal imagery, and signature David Lynch sense of purposefully awkward pacing.

That out of the way, I would have to say that this is possibly one of my most personal favorite films. It is dark, tense, atmospheric, and filled with sounds and images that will send chills up your spine. It is a film that takes more than one viewing to truly begin to comprehend, but is quite a ride nontheless. There are moments in this movie that will literally scare you, so much so that one could almost call this eerie surreal art-film a deconstructed domestic horror movie. This film, along with the original black and white Night of the Living dead, are two of the only films in existance that still scare me to this day. (Side note: Also, I reccomend that you see Luis Bunuel's movie "Un Chien Andalou" to see where strange art-films like this originated from.)

Anyway, the film's plot while initially incomprehensible to most, can be broken down into the tragic tale of a man named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) stuck in a dark decaying city overrun by industry. During the film, he is forced to deal with the prospect of taking care of an illegitimate premature child birthed by his girlfriend, Mary X. (Charlotte Stewart) However, he is consumed by his guilt, and begins to comprehend suicide as a way out. But the story is told through such a swirling mixture of dreamlike imagery that this is not always readily apparent.

However, in order to better understand and appreciate the film, one must figure out what each of the images mean. Here's a short cliff notes guidline to some of the more common recurring images in the movie:

Worm = sin. These creatures appear all throughout the movie. Henry even tries to hide his "little" sin from Mary at one point, only to have a nightmare where Mary is consumed by worms. Henry's room is also filled with piles dirt and dead plants as one might notice, which makes his room a breeding ground for worms.

The Baby = The product of sin. You might have noticed that the baby looks an awful lot like a worm. Futhermore, the baby is a part of Henry, and later during the dream sequence, we discover that Henry IS the baby. When Henry kills the baby, he kills himself.

Eraser = Memories. Henry feels that his memories, or his brain with his bad memories, is like an eraser that needs to be rubbed out. In his dream sequence, he sees himself losing his head, and having his brains turned into eraser bits to be rubbed out and blown into dust on the wind.

The lady in the radiator = Death. Death looks grotesque, yet strangely appealing to poor Henry. The radiator gives off warmth and seems to become a stage where death performs for Henry, promising to stamp out his sins (worms) and telling him that "in heaven, everything is fine." At the end of the movie, Henry embraces the lady in the radiator before blackness falls.

The man in the planet = God. In addition to disposing of Henry's cofessed sins at the beginning of the movie (the worm coming out of Henry's mouth) the scarred man in the planet appears to prevent Henry from opting for suicide during his dream sequence. He silently reminds Henry of his sacrifice (the bleeding tree) though it is in vain as Henry shows God what he really is underneith. (the baby)

The last is a theme that occurs in all Lynch movies:

Electricity and electrical lighting = The presence of good. Darkness = The presence of evil.

There are other aspects of the film that keep popping up, such as the reocurrence of the unlucky number thirteen. Henry waits thirteen seconds for the elevator to open up, the lady across the hall takes thirteen seconds to appear, Henry's apartment numbers add up to the number thriteen, etc. Also, there are many other images which I will let you figure out on your own.

All in all, the movie is quite an experience. This is a film that you will either love or utterly hate. For myself, I managed to "click" with the movie from the first time I saw it and have enjoyed it since. Repeated viewings only add to the enjoyment of the film, as you begin to notice more and more that you never saw before. All in all, I say that it is an excellent and extremely layered film.

With that, I give you some fun facts about the movie:

-The pencil eraser machine actually worked. It was put together by Lynch and a friend of his.

-To this day, Lynch will still not disclose how he constructed the amazingly convincing baby creature, though he claims is was created with substance/objects that anyone could find around the house.

-Jack Nance's hair was incredibly malleable. Literally, all it took was a little bit of trimming on either side of his head and some combing to get it to stand upright.

-In order to get a better sense of textures for the film (possibly for the organs of the baby) Lynch dissected a dead cat.

-When driving around town with the "Henry hair" Jack Nance would sit in the center seat while Lynch and someone else would sit on either side to keep his gravity-defying hair from being seen
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on 13 November 2006
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.
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on 31 October 2000
David Lynch is one of the world's finest directors. He blends pretentious surrealism with comedy that makes you feel guilty to laugh at. He has made some stunning films, like Blue Velvet, and he has made some terrifying films, like The Lost Highway. However, never has Lynch managed to top this brilliant masterpiece. It's basically about a man trapped in his apartment by the responsibilities of parenthood (although his child is more like a bloody E.T. than a baby) who slowly drives himself mad. An interesting plot, strengthened by stunning direction and excellent acting. Lynch's movies always have perverse undertones, and this is no exception. This is not a sexual movie, however; the perversion comes from the hatred Lynch makes you feel toward the disfigured child that is Eraserhead's true central character. This film is a true masterpiece, and don't let the pretentiousness of this film put you off; it's truly a great movie that will engross you from start to finish based solely on how bizarre it is. This is easily the most unusual and deranged movie to have EVER been produced out of a major Hollywood studio. Weird, but beautiful. Watch it for the final scene.
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2004
The first time I saw Eraserhead I had heard neither of the film itself, nor of David Lynch, and had no idea what to expect. To put it mildly, I was seriously uneasy - not sickened as in gore-fests, shocked as in the he's-behind-you school, nor even spooked by the supernatural. No, what makes this film disturbing is that Lynch has plumbed the film directly into the viewer's psyche. You understand what you seen on the screen, but can't understand or relate to it directly. And don't expect explanations or loose ends to be tied!
Weird is one word, but it goes much deeper - a trance-like dream state where inexplicable events occur at random intervals, with no obvious rational logic or emotional consistency. By taking away many of the trappings of conscious reality and leaving you in a stylised world akin to a Dali painting where normal objects don't necessarily appear in the expected context, nor to behave as you would hope. From the odd appearance of John Nance, through to the bizarre roast chicken and all peculiarities thereafter, Eraserhead succeeds in disorientating the viewer better than any film I've come across before or since.
In hindsight, the heavy metaphors about parenthood seem more obvious, but no less disturbing for all that. Even comedy in this context (like the roast chicken) can have the opposite effect. You might laugh, but it's tension relief with a difference. The suspense notches up another gear in the process.
As another reviewer says, this is still fresh today, and certainly an alternative to the bland production line that is Hollywood. Perhaps the Hollywood machine toned down Lynch's act (though in the light of Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and suchlike, not by that much!), but first films have rarely been more startling. If you're a student of David Lynch, look here to see where his creative imagination was fired.
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on 26 March 2002
If you found yourself among the 12 people who liked LOST HIGHWAY and thought it made sense in an odd way, even though you didn't understand it, you must see this movie. Make it your sole goal in life. Don't sleep until you own it. David Lynch has taken the sort of logic one only encounters in dreams (or nightmares) and used it to visualize his own, and yours too, fears about marriage and parenthood. Using a spare plot, he spends most of the film drifting off into bizzare scenarios and visuals, loaded with symbolism and implied meaning, like a dream.
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on 22 February 2009
I have not the slightest clue what this film is about, but oddly enough that doesn't really bother me. The best way I can describe it is like this: Eraserhead is like one of those really weird dreams you sometimes have which you can neither verbalise or rationalise, and which stays with you all day, and which affects you in ways you cannot quite explain.

Despite it being completely incomprehensible, I still think Eraserhead should be on everyone's "top films to see before you die" list. It is strangely compelling, while utterly baffling at the same time.
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on 19 December 2001
I first saw this film lying in bed at about 2am flicking between channels. Its first impression on me was 'great, another "art" movie for the pretentious and/or insomniac generation.' How wrong I was.
One of the major things that I love about Eraserhead, and with a lot of Lynch's work, is the feeling that the film could be set in the past, present, or future. The viewer is not told of the era, location or any other trivialities that may cloud judgment on the plot. And what a plot it is, only surpassed by the soundtrack which is a blistering, frightening and yet enveloping enterage of industrial noise.
Once agin the screenplay is limited, and speech relatively slow (considered) between the cast, a factor that is once agian reproduced in 'Lost Highway', one of Lynchs later movies.
Basically this is a fairy tale for grown ups, and is mesmerising from start to finish. Its 18 certificate is merely to put the censors mind at ease, with no real 'gore' of mention present. This is horror, but in a differnt sense of the word. You are not going to find stereotypical horror processes here, just an original, yet strangely addictive film.
The only reason this DVD dosent get ***** in my opinion is due to the realatively scarce extras. Trailer, and biography/filmography.
Watch this on a nicam speakered TV in the dark with the windows open on a cold night I dare ya!
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on 4 April 2007
This is the only Amazon review I will bother writing. I saw this film twenty years ago, in a cinema, and sat bewildered but entranced throughout. I went home to bed and had nightmares; the next day I couldn't think about much else, and this pattern continued for the next couple of weeks. I wouldn't say Eraserhead is a horror film - I certainly didn't feel shocked or scared while watching it, but it had a deeper, more profound, effect on me than anything else I've ever seen on screen. It's the only film I've seen as an adult that has genuinely disturbed and upset me - if you measure a film's success by the depth and breath of emotion it evokes in the viewer then this is without doubt the greatest film ever made. I'll never dare watching it again.
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on 21 February 2015
This was the most disturbing but thought provoking at the same time. I think that if you see this and automatically think its weird for the sake of being weird then you didn't understand it all that well. I think there are many different things this could be about.
these are my theories
1: Henry is actually having a nightmare about his soon to be born child.
2: it is set in some sort of future nuclear apocalypse that would explain the depressing broken down industrial setting.
3:Henry is a just a very depressed man with insomnia that hallucinates the strange visions.
4: !!!SPOILER!!! at the end of the film when Henry meets the lady in the radiator and she sings in heaven she is persuading henry it is alright to put his suffering child's life to an end.
5: !!!SPOILER!!! at the end when henry meet the lady in the radiator and you see his head fall out of the sky that could be henry as he committed suicide out of grief of killing his deformed baby.

overall you can see how interesting and I have left out how the constant sounds of the factories making huge noises and his radiator hissing it will get in your head and it makes you understand Henrys situation it also adds so much more atmosphere.
The film is so depressing that when his baby finally eats and him and his wife smile it fills you with a good feeling.
I cannot wait to see other films by David lynch if they are this brilliant I may have a new favourite director.
the blu ray picture quality is amazing as always.
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on 9 November 2008
I agree completely with T Jones's one-star review: this film is genius! It is David Lynch's greatest film. He has created nothing like it since and you will find nothing like it elsewhere. Everything about this film is beautifully contrived (except possibly for the ending!), from the synthetic chickens to the premature 'baby' wrapped in bandages. Lynch has created a world with such wonderful precision, each moment, each reaction from the characters all working perfectly. A lot of time and thought went into creating this nightmarish film, a film where the cries of Henry's new infant penetrate the deep rumblings of a bleak and shadowy industrial city.

I do not agree with Brady Orme's use of Ballard's 'Rub the Human Face in Vomit' quote. Eraserhead is much more refined than this. It is not crude and it is ceratinly not crude only for the sake of shock.

If you like this film, you'll probably like Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo.
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