Macabre Month of Horror 2013 #21 – Eraserhead (1977) guest review from Shaun Hathaway

*SPOILERS*

eraserhead poster

As I peer into the madness titled Eraserhead all I can hear are the screams of orphaned children and a faint smell of burning copper as well as an unsettling feeling that my childhood dentist is looming behind me. Sorry if that sounds vague, but this movie is what happens when you put mescaline into a vaporizer and take a deep breath. Trust me when I say this, but this is movie isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact it’s great, I love it, but once you watch it, you can no longer unsee the things which hath been forever burned inside your eyelids, and from there on, whenever you close your now bloodshot eyes, you can only see the baby. Nothing more, nothing less. Just the baby. That hyper-realistic looking alien/goat baby.

babyThere aren’t any opening credits for this film, which may seem normal, except for the fact that in place of credits, it’s just a long shot of Jack Nance’s existentially confused face. As well as feeling uncomfortable because Jack Nance and his Kid ‘N Play haircut is staring directly into your soul (which now feels dirty), the first 10 1/2 minutes of the film has absolutely no dialogue. It does however have the most uneasy establishing shots you’ll ever experience in your now shortened life. This movie appears to be produced by Friedrich Nietzsche because the oddities displayed to the viewer provides substantial evidence that God might be dead.

Eventually we meet Henry’s love interest whose name is Mary X, and her parents Mr. X and Mrs. X. Henry is having dinner with the peculiar family members. For dinner they are having a baseball sized chicken, which they give Henry the honorchicken of carving for the family to indulge upon. However, as soon as Henry carves into the homunculous chicken, a weird gooey substance starts to squirt out of the peculiar bird, causing Mrs. X to go into an odd frantic state, crying and leaving the table. This prompts Mary to go comfort her weird ass mother. This also leaves Henry and Mr. X to sit at the table in an awkward silence, which, if you are watching the movie, you will eventually adapt to.

After my senses come back from being temporarily stunned by the movie, Mary X is telling Henry about how she had the baby and Mrs. X is claiming that the sad, sick, and suffering middle finger to Charles Darwin and God is just premature, and that Mary X and Henry shall raise it, no matter what. Time passes and now Henry and Mary are in an apartment with the baby, that due to its poor condition, is almost constantly crying, and this causes Mary to have a hissy fit and she storms out of the apartment, leaving Henry to take care of the dying baby (this is not the first time that Mary proves to be a bitch). We have already seen the baby, but now the rest of the film is entirely Henry and the baby.mary

“Fun” Fact: The baby in the film is actually an embalmed fetus of a calf that David Lynch would refuse to tell anybody about how he got ahold. He wouldn’t reveal any information as to how the effect was created, as well. Lynch even went as far as to make the projectionist running film clips to cover his eyes so that even the projectionist didn’t know how the baby was made. After the 5 year process of filming, David Lynch buried the fetus in an undisclosed location, and at the wrap up party for the film, they held a wake for it.

After Henry is left with the calf fetus, nothing on God’s Green Earth can prepare you for such mind shattering existentialist surrealism. After a small stint with sanity, Henry begins to hallucinate vividly. After a little bit, he begins to imagine that there is a woman with protruding cheeks singing a very, very odd song with unsettling lyrics while stepping on what appears to be giant sperm. He also womanhallucinates that his head pops off and his replaced by the baby’s head. Although I laughed during that particular part, it was still terrifying in the most unsettling way possible. As well as scary as hell hallucinations, he also has the desire to kill his already sick and dying child to put it out of its misery.

The desire eventually overwhelms the tired father, he grabs a pair of scissors and opens the bandaging wrapped around the child and before Henry does anything, he notices that it’s opening the “body” and you can see the “organs” on the inside of it. Henry is terrified as hell (you can tell by the P.T.S.D. look on his face (but to be fair he always has that look on his face)) and then stabs the “heart” of the suffering child. This causes weirder things to happen. This causes things to happen that are downright indescribable and forever haunt your subconscious. You have to watch the film to truly understand the horrifyingly surreal imagery. It is a great film, about fathers’ inner fear of having a child, but you will not come out of it unscathed.baby head

If you want to buy it on Blu-Ray click here and keep checking back for the rest of the month for a new horror review everyday of October.

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