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Monday, October 30, 2006

2. ERASERHEAD

2. ERASERHEAD
(1976)
Directed by David Lynch

Horror by definition is not a pleasant thing. It is, after all, the polar opposite of attraction and contentment. Having a gun held to your head in a robbery or being helpless and menaced in any way is undoubtedly horrific. Witnessing something monstrous and inhuman (providing of course that you yourself are not monstrous and inhuman) will also summon the horror response. It's an uncomfortable and panicked state of mind marked by repulsion, dread and fear that even most thrill seekers only enjoy in mediated doses. Horror in cinema, because it is most commonly intended as entertainment, is usually packaged with other elements and ingredients so the experience isn't too disagreeable. David Lynch apparently wasn't terribly concerned with the comfort level of his audience when he created his first feature length effort "Eraserhead" and, as a result, gave us a piece of true unfiltered horror. Capturing on film the weird nightmares that fester in the subconscious is a talent that he is famous for and none of his films are weirder or more purely nightmarish than this one. My favorite bits of his other films ("Wild at Heart" (1990), "Fire Walk With Me" (1992) and "Mulholland Drive" (2001) especially) are always the surreal episodes that take the viewer through the looking glass and into bizarre and unpredictable interior worlds. Unfettered by reality he can summon up moments of real beauty but just as easily (and probably more often) he summons screeching terror. In "Eraserhead" there is no trip through the looking glass. We are on the other side as soon as the film starts rolling and we are there until the bitter end. The lady in the radiator, the bundled infant creature, the depressing and unrelenting atmosphere filled with industrial whistles and clanks, the howling winds. A fantastic and grossly symbolic take on the horrors of parenthood? Could be. A good movie for lonely people to watch on Valentine's Day? Most definitely.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Dave Waalkes said...

I saw Eraserhead for the first time when I got a copy of from my daughter in 2006, and I found it to be truly bizarre and affecting. My litmus test for a 'good film' is one that preys (at least a little) on my mind afterwards. This one passes that test easily - many of the scenes are burned into my memory for all time. So, even though I don't tell all my friends to watch it (because I don't want THAT on my conscience!), I must count it among my all-time favorites.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Dave Waalkes said...

I saw Eraserhead for the first time when I got a copy of from my daughter in 2006, and I found it to be truly bizarre and affecting. My litmus test for a 'good film' is one that preys (at least a little) on my mind afterwards. This one passes that test easily - many of the scenes are burned into my memory for all time. So, even though I don't tell all my friends to watch it (because I don't want THAT on my conscience!), I must count it among my all-time favorites.

3:02 PM  

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