7.4/10
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571 user 152 critic

Eraserhead (1977)

Not Rated | | Horror | 3 February 1978 (USA)
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Henry Spencer (as John Nance)
... Mary X
... Mr. X
... Mrs. X
... Beautiful Girl Across the Hall (as Judith Anna Roberts)
... Lady in the Radiator
V. Phipps-Wilson ... Landlady (long version)
... Man in the Planet
Jean Lange ... Grandmother
Thomas Coulson ... The Boy
John Monez ... Bum
... Paul
T. Max Graham ... The Boss (as Neil Moran)
... Pencil Machine Operator
... Little Girl
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Storyline

A film that defies conventional logic and storytelling, fueled by its dark nightmarish atmosphere and compellingly disturbing visuals. Henry Spencer is a hapless factory worker on his vacation when he finds out he's the father of a hideously deformed baby. Now living with his unhappy, malcontent girlfriend, the child cries day and night, driving Henry and his girlfriend to near insanity. Written by Jacob Samuelson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A dream of dark and troubling things See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 February 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eraserhead 2000  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(re-release)| (original release)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The desolate, muddy and potholed urban landscape that Henry walks through at the beginning of the film is now the site of the Beverly Center Mall. See more »

Goofs

The man's hands on the door at the beginning. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Beautiful Girl Across the Hall: Are you Henry?
Henry Spencer: Yes?
Beautiful Girl Across the Hall: A girl named "Mary" called on the payphone in the hallway about an hour ago. She said that she's at her parents and that you're invited to dinner.
Henry Spencer: Oh, yeah?
[after a long pause]
Henry Spencer: Well... thank you very much.
[Henry enters his apartment, while the girl slowly closes the door to hers]
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits, just a long, tilted close-up of the face of Jack Nance. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Laverne & Shirley: A Date with Eraserhead (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Digah's Stomp
Written and performed by Fats Waller (as Thomas "Fats" Waller)
In 1927.
© Peer International Corp. (Chappel & Co. U.S.A) (BMI)
© Copyright 1976. David Lynch.
© 1976 O.K. Paul Music.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Analysis fails here
23 July 2003 | by See all my reviews

Unlike some of Lynch's more recent works ("Mullholland Drive" and "Lost Highway" for example) Eraserhead is a film that doesn't benefit from being "figured out".

The film left me with several strong emotional impressions, mainly having to do with the hell of a forced marriage and the burden of caring for an unwanted child. In spite of truly bizarre occurances (Roast chickens start kicking and oozing blood at the dinner table while Mom has a seziure apparently unnoticed by everybody else; grandma seems catatonic, but mom still gets her to toss the salad, etc., etc., etc...), Mary comes from a rigidly "traditional" family, completely crass in it's need to know if Henry had sex with Mary, what Henry does for a living, and it's assumption that he will marry Mary after presenting him with flimsy evidence that they've had a child together. The values that force Henry and Mary to marry are shown to be as much a part of the machine that has created the industrial hell in which they live as any other force.

Their universe seems post-appocalyptic in its desolation; not a wisp of vegetation anywhere, and almost no clues about time of day. I suspect a rational explanation for the setting of Eraserhead might include some alien takeover; Henry and Mary's "premature baby" doesn't really look human, and it's introduction to their lives is more than a little suspect. Not to mention the "worms" that keep appearing everywhere,looking like dissected human central nerve chords.

While I firmly believe there is no one way to interpret Eraserhead, it

does touch on a number themes that fall into the "social commentary" bin. Isolation deepening simultaneously with physical connection (pipes)as a metaphor for sex that alienates, marriage forced by circumstance, etc. It manages to get the viewer (at least this one) thinking about these issues in an abstract way. I don't know that I really enjoyed the film (although Harry's dream where his brian gets turned into eraserheads was humorous) but I didn't find it worthless. As an image and soundscape, it was truly brilliant.

The intentional mix of plot and diversion succeeds in tempting and then thwarting analysis, like a painting or a sculpture. As such, this film is guaranteed to alienate a large audience. Some of Lynch's more recent films ("Mulholland Drive", for example) are puzzleboxes that start the viewer out in this state of confusion, but actually make a lot more sense once the puzzle is figured out. "Eraserhead" deliberately induces confusion, and intentionally maintains confusion throughout, with no resolution intended. As such, it is typical "student work", untainted by the need to be palatable to large numbers of people, unencumbered by the idea that many will lose interest because they do not see value in maintaining states of confusion (it's called developing an attention span). As with all things, it's a matter of taste.


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