Be warned. The nightmare has not gone away…
Eraserhead is a 1977 American experimental body horror film written, directed, produced, and edited by David Lynch. The film’s score and sound design were also helmed by Lynch, with pieces by a variety of other musicians also featured. Shot in black and white, Eraserhead is Lynch’s first feature-length effort following several short films. Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Jeanne Bates, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, and Jack Fisk, it tells the story of a man who is left to care for his grossly deformed child in a desolate industrial landscape.
Eraserhead was produced with the assistance of the American Film Institute (AFI) during Lynch’s time studying there. The film nonetheless spent several years in principal photography because of funding difficulties; donations from Fisk and his wife Sissy Spacek kept production afloat. It was shot on several locations owned by the AFI in California, including Greystone Mansion and a set of disused stables in which Lynch lived. Lynch and sound designer Alan Splet spent a year working on the film’s audio after their studio was soundproofed. The soundtrack features organ music by Fats Waller and includes the song “In Heaven“, written for the film by Peter Ivers.
Initially opening to small audiences and little interest, Eraserhead gained popularity over several long runs as a midnight movie. Since its release, the film has earned positive reviews. The surrealist imagery and sexual undercurrents have been seen as key thematic elements, and the intricate sound design as its technical highlight. In 2004, the film was preserved in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.