Posts Tagged ‘David Lynch


Eraserhead (1977)

Wow. It’s been a good six months since I’ve graced these pages with my incoherent, babbling thoughts – apologies to those who care. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of this self-indulgence. In this case, I went and had a kid, and it has kicked my ass like nothing else in my life ever has. That shit they say about having kids is true: it changes everything.

Henry (Jack Nance) at one of the most uncomfortable, awkward family dinners I've ever seen on film.

Henry (Jack Nance) at one of the most uncomfortable, awkward family dinners I’ve ever seen on film.

Sure, I didn’t doubt that was the case, but I guess I didn’t grasp just how profoundly everything would change – including my perception of movies.

Like most people, I first saw David Lynch’s Eraserhead in college. Whatever copy they played us at one of the last gatherings of University of Pittsburgh’s Twin Peaks club (named Wounded in Pittsburgh, smirk) had Japanese subtitles. I remember having no fucking clue what it was I had just watched, and loving it for that reason. Over the years my memory of the movie faded, I mostly remembered it being an incredibly bizarre, outlandish and freaky nightmare starring a stunned Jack Nance. In the meantime I’d become intimately familiar with Lynch’s work, so that all seemed accurate to me.

Mary is having trouble feeding her little bundle of joy.

Mary is having trouble feeding her little bundle of joy.

For the uninitiated, Eraserhead is, in short, a story about an awkward couple in the early stages of a relationship. Though I find it difficult to imagine them having sex, they have, and they made a baby. But the baby was born extremely premature and is basically a fetus in bandages sleeping on a dresser. We watch in horror as the baby unravels whatever tenuous relationship the main characters (Henry & Mary) had. While that all sounds fairly straightforward, it isn’t. This is Lynch at his weirdest, so, suffice it to say there is a lot of freaky shit happening.

Of course in the 12 or so years since I’d first watched Eraserhead I often toyed with the idea of revisiting it, either through some Lynch marathon or inviting some square over just to scare the shit out of them with it, but it never happened. Not until I had a kid, and my husband couldn’t stop thinking: watching Eraserhead would be really freaky now. So on an evening where we had somehow had enough sleep to sit through a movie after getting the kid to bed herself, we did it.

And oh my god.

It was fucking hilarious.

I get it now. Eraserhead is a fucking comedy! Okay, until there’s that unmentionable violence. But, up until that point, oh my god! Hilarious! Yes, I have looked at my baby like she was an alien. Yes, I have convinced myself the baby was ill, only to find out she was fine, only to turn around and once again swear there is something wrong with her. Yes, I have shouted SHUT UP numerous times in the middle of the night due to my own lack of sleep! Yes, I have put the humidifier too close to her head. All these things that seem nightmarishly cruel are very true to the experience I had during the first few months of parenthood. Nail, head, et cetera.

That baby don't look right.

That baby don’t look right.

I don’t think I can give Eraserhead a star rating. Did I like it? Yes, I like it on two levels. The first is obvious: I like David Lynch, I like weird shit, and I like movies a lot, so of course it follows that I like Eraserhead. The second level is that I finally feel like I’m in on the joke, and it’s always more fun when you’re in on the joke. While it is true that a large portion of this movie remains an inexplicable nightmare, I feel like I finally understand the motivation behind it. All it took was becoming a parent! But how can I translate that into any kind of rating? Movies like Eraserhead don’t get rated. In David Lynch’s world, movies rate you. I mean, should you see Eraserhead? If you are over 25 and you haven’t already seen it, probably not. Unless, of course, you are a new parent. In which case, yes, you should. You should definitely see it. Like yesterday. If it doesn’t make you laugh, well, you probably have no sense of humor.


Blue Velvet (1986)

Jeffrey and Sandy hatch a plot.

Jeffrey and Sandy hatch a plot.

Blue Velvet starts with a disembodied ear. Angel-faced neighborhood boy Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan, with some of the smoothest skin I’ve ever seen on screen) finds it in a field behind his parents’ house in Lumberton, WA. A strange thing to find in a sleepy town where families spend time sunning in their backyards and tending to their gardens. Not so strange, of course, when you remember you’re watching a David Lynch film. None of his small towns are ever what they seem to be, after all.

Stuck at his parents house while his father convalesces from a bizarre injury that puts him in headgear, our young college boy is determined to find out the story behind the ear. His first stop: Detective Williams’ office, where he straight-up brings the ear in a plastic baggie. Williams warns Jeffrey to keep his nose out of the case, but the

Ms. Vallens sings.

Ms. Vallens sings.

Detective’s daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern) overhears things that are too interesting and intriguing for her to keep to herself. Her eavesdropping leads her and Jeffrey into the seedy underbelly of Lumberton, a world far different from the suburban American dream.

The story seems to hinge upon Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a local lounge singer who’s fallen in with some nasty folks, it would seem. In his brilliance, Jeffrey decides to hide in her apartment to get some clues as to how this woman could be connected to a disembodied ear. He gets way more than he’s bargained for, and is drawn into a world he and Sandy never would have guessed existed right under their noses, a world where a nitrous-huffing madman (Dennis Hopper)

Frank; a dangerous man indeed.

Frank; a dangerous man indeed.

rules the roost, and has no time for neighborly interaction.

Blue Velvet is classic David Lynch. The seeds of Twin Peaks are all here, right down to intermittent close-up shots of fire. It is also perhaps one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. While it does have its humorous moments, it is mostly horrifying. Horrifying because we’re made into voyeurs (and maybe we even like it!), because it might be our small town where all this nasty stuff is going down. It was my first foray into David Lynch oh so long ago, and not knowing what to expect I was quite taken aback by its surprises. Perhaps even more disturbing now is the realization that I was so young when I first watched it, which might help to explain why I have such a taste for screwed up movies! At any rate, this movie certainly isn’t for the faint of heart; if you’re easily disturbed you are definitely not going to dig this. That being said, I absolutely recommend it. Just be warned, if you do decide to give it a go, Roy Orbison will never be the same to you again.


Wild at Heart (1990)

We’ve been dancing around David Lynch for the last two weeks, so I thought it was finally time to make Q sit down and face Wild at Heart, which happens to be my favorite Lynch. If last night’s movie, Black Moon, can be touted as “An apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland” then Wild at Heart is its Wizard of Oz

Bobby Peru, the creepiest of creeps.

counterpart, with Nicolas Cage to boot.

Story goes like this: Sailor loves Lula. Lula loves Sailor. Lula’s evil momma wants Sailor dead. Sailor is too badass to die. Sailor goes to jail. Sailor gets out of jail. Sailor and Lula skip town and follow the yellow brick road to Big Tuna, TX, where the creepiest of creeps live!

This is loaded with sex, violence, and all of your favorite Lynch actors. Cage is, as always, incredibly over the top, but for some reason it works here. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Elvis renditions? I hadn’t seen this in a few years and I’m glad to say that it still stays at the top of my Lynch list!


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