After watching Erasherhead, and eating a certain amount of cheese, I dreamt I was being chased through a train by a shapeshifting man-dog and I couldn’t tell anyone because they’d say “it’s just a dog” and also I was in my pyjamas.
Shot in shadowy black and white, David Lynch’s first film is a deeply surrealist piece about… well, it’s hard to say. But definitely something scary.
Twin Peaks‘ Jack Nance plays Henry, a man with Dracula eyes and Bride of Frankenstein hair. He shambles around in an ill-fitting suit like a dystopian Charlie Chaplin, living in the shadow of a factory and fathering the scariest “baby” since Rosemary’s.
It goes without saying that Lynch’s films are completely bizarre, but nothing can prepare you for the mind-melting weirdness of his 1977 debut; an uncompromisingly bold surrealist nightmare – and the fact that he followed it up with The Elephant Man proves his talents as a master craftsman, as well as an artistic genius.
As a jaded horror fan, it’s a rare treat to be given bad dreams by a movie. And I’m not talking about Dirty Grandpa. Lynch’s films are the closest one can get to a nightmare state without falling asleep or stepping foot inside an Iceland.
It’s not just the strange imagery – although, in the case of the lady in the radiator who performs a kind of demented Marilyn Monroe musical number, that certainly helps.
More than that, the Lynchian atmosphere invokes the uniquely nightmarish feeling of being trapped there by some malevolent force; the sense that this is being done to you. Perhaps by a shapeshifting man-dog.
With its industrial landscape and soundscape, Eraserhead is a profoundly harrowing exploration of what goes on inside our bodies, our minds and next door. Not to be consumed with cheese.