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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.

Director:

David Lynch

Writer:

David Lynch
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Popularity
1,648 ( 93)

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nance ... Henry Spencer (as John Nance)
Charlotte Stewart ... Mary X
Allen Joseph ... Mr. X
Jeanne Bates ... Mrs. X
Judith Roberts ... Beautiful Girl Across the Hall (as Judith Anna Roberts)
Laurel Near ... Lady in the Radiator
V. Phipps-Wilson V. Phipps-Wilson ... Landlady (long version)
Jack Fisk ... Man in the Planet
Jean Lange Jean Lange ... Grandmother
Thomas Coulson Thomas Coulson ... The Boy
John Monez John Monez ... Bum
Darwin Joston ... Paul
T. Max Graham T. Max Graham ... The Boss (as Neil Moran)
Hal Landon Jr. ... Pencil Machine Operator
Jennifer Lynch ... 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:

Be warned. The nightmare has not gone away... See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 February 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Eraserhead See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby (re-release)| Mono (original release)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Lynch began his interest in Transcendental Meditation during the film's production, adopting a vegetarian diet and giving up smoking and alcohol consumption. See more »

Goofs

Henry takes off the wrong shoe/sock to dry off. 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 »

Alternate Versions

The original print of the film ran 20m longer and featured a number of characters who are referenced in the credits but do not appear: The people digging in the alley show up in the second half of the movie. Henry comes across two kids excavating rows of dimes from the asphalt in the street. The landlady shows up in the second half, in a scene where Henry goes into the lobby of the apartment building and takes out his anger on a bench. "You stop kicking my bench!" the landlady shouts at him. "That's good wood!" See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remote Control (1988) 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.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Cinematic genius, but definitely NOT a date movie.
30 January 2000 | by The_Movie_CatSee all my reviews

I can think of very few films that have sound as their most commendable feature. The Exorcist is one, a film that, aside from infrequent strains of `Tubular Bells', adopts minimal incidental music. This is laudable in a horror genre where shocks are clearly signposted – and predicted – by overgenerous musical stings. The Exorcist may be flawed, but its avoidance of this field cliché is worthy of praise.

Eraserhead is the other film that excels in sound. A frankly disturbing concoction of industrial score and white noise with undercurrents of musical hall and sonorous church organ, it is almost an extra character in the film, and easily it's most prominent factor.

Yet Eraserhead is to be recommended for more than its incidentals. An impenetrable and gloomy work, what is it actually about? Who is the credited `man in the planet' who pulls levers that control giant spermatozoa? Many questions like this permeate a film which perhaps has to be seen several times to get over the initial shock of it's avant gardism. Lynch extracts the everyday and supplants it with the exceptionally bizarre. The experience of meeting a girlfriend's parents for the first time is never worse than here, where the parents in question gyrate spasmodically to the animated legs of a blood-spitting chicken. It's these scenes – along with the deformed mutant baby – that could lend the film the air of an abortion debate. Birth and repressed sexuality thrive throughout the film, from suckling puppies to the seductive appeal of the `beautiful girl across the hall' and a mother-in-law that gets too close for comfort. I guess the entire film could be a man's mental breakdown when faced with the premature responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. Though to be honest I couldn't even begin to imagine what it's really all about.

Encroaching blackness fills every scene, where lights are intermittent at best, and at worse fail completely. Often sets – particularly the bedroom when `Mary X' is feeding the child – are like prison cells. Two of the most eerie segments involve a title-explaining dream (?) where Henry's (Nance's) head is carved into pencil rubbers and an unsettling musical number from the `lady in the radiator'. This is the same lady with two candyfloss-like lumps on her cheeks that alternates her stage appearances between stamping on giant sperm to singing with religious convictions.

Direction and cinematography are brilliant throughout, though the climax is the ultimate extension of a film that borders on darker, extremely unpleasant aspects of reality. I took a girl to see this film once, where the conclusion formed the final straw in what could be seen as a cycle of repellent imagery. I wonder why I never saw her again?


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