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Encyclopedia > Eraserhead

1977 theatrical poster
Directed by David Lynch
Produced by David Lynch
Written by David Lynch
Starring Jack Nance
Charlotte Stewart
Jeanne Bates
Distributed by Libra Films
Release date(s) Flag of the United States March 19, 1977
Running time 89 min.
Country Flag of the United States United States
Language English
Budget $100,000 (estimated)
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Eraserhead (released in France as The Labyrinth Man) is a 1977 surrealist-horror film written and directed by David Lynch. The film stars Jack Nance and Charlotte Stewart. Eraserhead initially polarized and baffled many critics and movie-goers, but over time the film has become a cult classic. Image File history File links Template:Film poster File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946, in Missoula, Montana) is an American filmmaker. ... David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946, in Missoula, Montana) is an American filmmaker. ... David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946, in Missoula, Montana) is an American filmmaker. ... Marvin John Nance (December 21, 1943 – December 30, 1996), known professionally as Jack Nance and occasionally credited as John Nance, was an American stage and screen actor in offbeat or avant-garde film and theatre. ... Charlotte Stewart (born 27 February 1941 in Yuba City, California, USA) is an American film and television actress. ... Jeanne Bates (born March 21, 1918) is an American film and television actress. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... is the 78th day of the year (79th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... A cow standing on a pole. ... David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946, in Missoula, Montana) is an American filmmaker. ... Marvin John Nance (December 21, 1943 – December 30, 1996), known professionally as Jack Nance and occasionally credited as John Nance, was an American stage and screen actor in offbeat or avant-garde film and theatre. ... Charlotte Stewart (born 27 February 1941 in Yuba City, California, USA) is an American film and television actress. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

In 2004, the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Lynch has described his film as a "dream of dark and troubling things."[1] The Library of Congress is the de facto national library of the United States and the research arm of the United States Congress. ... The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ...


Interpreting the film

Eraserhead is considered a difficult film to understand and is open to various interpretations. For example, the review at DVD Verdict offers at least three interpretations.[2] The story does not have a strictly linear plot, it is punctuated with fantasy/dream sequences of differing lengths, and the boundary between these sequences and the primary narrative strand is often blurred. Many have interpreted it as a visual-sound experience rather than a narrative or story, a film that is more about conveying a very specific and powerful mood and atmosphere. Lynch has said he has yet to read an interpretation of the film that is the same as his own. See fantasy for an account of the literary genre involving the development of common or popular fantasies. ... “Dreams” redirects here. ...


The setting of the film seems to be a sort of industrial wasteland. Electric lights continually flicker, sewer pipes constantly leak, and a mechanical humming sound is ubiquitous. Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is a printer who is "on vacation". He gives off an air of nervousness, but makes few direct complaints about his life situation. At the start of the film, Henry, who has not heard from his girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) for a while, mistakenly believes that she has ended their relationship. He is invited to have dinner with Mary and her parents at their house, where he is told that Mary has given birth to a baby after an abnormally short pregnancy. Henry is then obliged to marry her. Marvin John Nance (December 21, 1943 – December 30, 1996), known professionally as Jack Nance and occasionally credited as John Nance, was an American stage and screen actor in offbeat or avant-garde film and theatre. ... The word printer is used to describe a company that provides commercial printing services, involving typesetting, printing and book-binding. ... Charlotte Stewart (born 27 February 1941 in Yuba City, California, USA) is an American film and television actress. ...

Mary and the baby move into Henry's one-room apartment. The baby is hideously deformed, with barely any human characteristics and is very reptilian in appearance. The baby has a large snout-nose with slit nostrils, a pencil-thin neck, the eyes are both on the opposite sides of its head, no ears and its body is covered in bandages. It continually whines throughout the night.

A sleep-deprived Mary abandons Henry and the baby. After Mary leaves, Henry must care for the baby by himself, and he becomes involved in a series of strange events. These include bizarre encounters with the Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near), a woman with grotesquely distended cheeks who lives in his radiator (she sings the iconic song "In Heaven"); visions of the ominous Man in the Planet (Jack Fisk); and a sexual liaison with his neighbor, the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall (Judith Anna Roberts). Laurel Near played the role of The Lady in the Radiator in 1977s Eraserhead. ... Radiators and convectors are types of heat exchangers designed to transfer thermal energy from one medium to another for the purpose of cooling and heating. ... The song In Heaven is sung by the Lady in the Radiator in the movie Eraserhead, and the song has seeped into popular culture to a small extent. ... Jack Fisk (19 December 1945 Canton, IL) married actress Sissy Spacek on April 12, 1974. ... Judith Ann Roberts, whose birthname is Judith Lebreque, is an actress best known for her role as the Beautiful Girl across in hall in Eraserhead. ...

The film's title comes from a dream sequence occurring during the last half hour of the film. In it, Henry’s head detaches from his body, sinks into a growing pool of blood on a tile floor, falls from the sky, and, finally, lands on an empty street and cracks open. A young boy (Thomas Coulson) finds Henry's broken head and takes it to a pencil factory, where Paul (Darwin Joston), the desk clerk, is rendered speechless by the gruesome sight and summons his ill-tempered boss (Neil Moran) to the front desk by repeatedly pushing a buzzer. The boss, angered by the summons, yells at Paul, but regains his composure when he sees what the little boy has brought. The boss and the boy carry the head to a back room where the Pencil Machine Operator (Hal Landon Jr.) takes a core sample of Henry's brain and determines that it is a serviceable material for pencil erasers. The boy is then rewarded for bringing in Henry's head. F. Darwin Solomon (December 9, 1937- June 1, 1998) was an American actor known professionally as Darwin Joston (sometimes credited as Darwin Jostin during the early years of his career ). A North Carolina native, Joston was born in Winston-Salem and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel...

Shortly after waking from this dream, Henry seeks out the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall, but he finds her at her apartment with another man. The baby then begins to laugh, and Henry takes a pair of scissors and cuts open the baby's bandages, which turn out to be part of its flesh (or simply what is holding all of its organs together). By cutting the bandages, Henry splits open the baby's body and exposes its vital organs. As the baby screams in pain, Henry stabs its heart with the scissors. This causes the apartment’s electricity to overload, and as the lights flicker on and off, an apparition of the baby's head, grown to an enormous size, materializes in the apartment. The last scene features Henry being embraced by the Lady in the Radiator.


Lynch calls Eraserhead his “Philadelphia Story,” emphasizing the fears and anxieties he experienced living in Philadelphia, attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 romantic screwball comedy starring Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. ... Nickname: Motto: Philadelphia maneto - Let brotherly love continue Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: , Country United States Commonwealth Pennsylvania County Philadelphia Founded October 27, 1682 Incorporated October 25, 1701 Government  - Mayor John F. Street (D) Area  - City 369. ... The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is the oldest art school in the United States, founded in Philadelphia in 1805. ...

Eraserhead developed from Gardenback, a script about adultery Lynch wrote during his first year at the Centre for Advanced Film Studies at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The script for Eraserhead was only 21 pages long. Because of the film's unusual plot and the inexperienced director (Lynch had made three short films at the time), no movie studio expressed interest in the project. Lynch won a $2,200 grant from the American Film Institute, and built most of the sets in the basement of the AFI conservatory. Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Flag Seal Nickname: City of Angels Location Location within Los Angeles County in the state of California Coordinates , Government State County California Los Angeles County Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) Geographical characteristics Area     City 1,290. ... Short subject is an American film industry term that historically has referred to any film in the format of two reels, or approximately 20 minutes running time, or less. ... Grants are funds given to tax-exempt nonprofit organizations or local governments by foundations, corporations, governments, small business and individuals. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

A long-standing urban legend states that Lynch created the baby from an embalmed cow fetus. To this day, Lynch refuses to discuss how the baby was really made. An urban legend or urban myth is similar to a modern folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. ... Embalming, in most modern cultures, is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition and make it suitable for display at a funeral. ... COW is an acronym for a number of things: Can of worms The COW programming language, an esoteric programming language. ... “Unborn child” redirects here. ...

Although the baby's name is never given, it was nicknamed "Spike" by the cast and crew.

Aside from the AFI grant, the movie was financed by friends and family, including actress Sissy Spacek, who was married to Lynch’s childhood friend Jack Fisk (Fisk appears in Eraserhead as “The Man in the Planet”). Lynch claims he got a paper route to help finance it. Because of the lack of reliable funds, Eraserhead was filmed intermittently over the span of six years. Sets were disassembled and reassembled several times. The film was finally completed in 1977, premiering in March of that year. Mary Elizabeth Sissy Spacek (born December 25, 1949) is an Academy Award-winning American actress and singer. ... Jack Fisk (19 December 1945 Canton, IL) married actress Sissy Spacek on April 12, 1974. ...


  • Thanks to the efforts of distributor Ben Barenholtz, the film made its way to many repertory theaters and independent cinemas. It quickly became a cult classic and a standard at midnight movie showings for the next decade. Like many cult films, it was exceptionally popular on VHS given its limited box office gross.
  • Eraserhead also became popular among experimental film fans, Hollywood insiders and fellow directors. After seeing the film, Mel Brooks hired Lynch to direct The Elephant Man (1980), which more or less launched him into the Hollywood mainstream.
  • Director Stanley Kubrick once stated in an interview with Michel Ciment that he would have liked to direct this film[3]. Before beginning production on The Shining, Kubrick screened Eraserhead for the cast to put them into the atmosphere he wanted to convey. Other films that appear to have been influenced by Eraserhead: Tales from Gimli Hospital, The Institute Benjamenta, Barton Fink, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Begotten, and Pi.
  • Poet Charles Bukowski ranked Eraserhead among the few movies he deemed worthy of praise. Interviewed on the subject of cable television, Bukowski said, "We got cable TV here, and the first thing we switched on happened to be Eraserhead. I said, 'What’s this?' I didn’t know what it was. It was so great. I said, 'Oh, this cable TV has opened up a whole new world. We’re gonna be sitting in front of this thing for centuries. What next?' So starting with Eraserhead we sit here, click, click, click — nothing."[4]
  • A number of rock bands take their name from the film: the 1980s rockabilly group Erazerhead; the Northern California band Eraserhead, and Eraserheads, a popular Filipino band.[5] The band Henry Spencer take their name from the main character. Apartment 26 are named after Henry's address and they feature a sample from the Lady in the Radiator's "In Heaven" at the end of their song, "Heaven." The 1980's London indie band, "Henry's Final Dream", also owe their name to this movie.
  • Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, recorded a spoken word song in the character of a man who, once a year, goes on a weeklong drinking binge and watches Eraserhead the entire time. The song was included on his album Shame-Based Man, and a video was filmed and shown on Saturday Night Live in 1995.
  • Brazilian-born electronic music composer Amon Tobin samples dialogue from the film on the track "Like Regular Chickens", from his 1998 album Permutation. The dialogue is an excerpt from a scene in which Henry Spencer is having dinner with Mary X and her parents. Mary's father, Mr. X, serves a course of "man-made" miniature chickens, which Henry is asked to carve. The sample is of Henry asking, "Do I just, uh... Do I just cut them up like regular chickens?” to which Mr. X replies, "Sure, just cut them up like regular chickens."
  • Norwegian EBM band Apoptygma Berzerk included the sample "Did you and Mary have sexual intercourse" on their song "Seven Signs", from their second single, "The Apopcalyptic Manifesto".

Ben Barenholtz is an American film producer. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A classic midnight movie in every sense of the term, Tod Brownings Freaks (1932) is the sort of (then) obscure horror film shown on late-night TV beginning in the 1950s; in the 1970s and early 1980s it was a staple of midnight screenings at theaters around the U... Bottom view of VHS cassette with magnetic tape exposed Top view of VHS cassette with front casing removed The Video Home System, better known by its abbreviation VHS is a recording and playing standard for analog video cassette recorders (VCRs), developed by Victor Company of Japan, Limited (JVC) and launched... Experimental film, or experimental cinema, is a term that describes a range of filmmaking styles that are generally quite different from, and often opposed to, the practices of mainstream commercial and documentary filmmaking. ... ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... The Elephant Man is a 1980 biopic loosely based on the story of the 19th century British deformed celebrity, Joseph Merrick (called John Merrick in the film). ... ... “Kubrick” redirects here. ... The Shining is a 1980 British horror film by Stanley Kubrick based on Stephen Kings novel of the same name. ... Barton Fink is a 1991 film by Joel and Ethan Coen. ... Begotten is a 1991 Experimental/horror film, directed and written by E. Elias Merhige. ... π (or Pi) is a 1998 American psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky. ... Henry Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was an influential Los Angeles poet and novelist. ... Coaxial cable is often used to transmit cable television into the house. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... Alternative rock (also called alternative music or simply alternative; known primarily in the UK as indie) is a genre of rock music that emerged in the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. ... Bauhaus are an English Goth rock band, formed in Northampton in 1978. ... Miranda Sex Garden was a band from London, England. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Pixies are an American alternative rock music group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986. ... Tuxedomoon is an experimental avant-garde post-punk New Wave group formed in San Francisco, California in 1977 by Blaine L. Reininger and Steven Brown, two students of electronic music at San Francisco City College. ... Indie rock is a subgenre of rock music often used to refer to bands that are on small independent record labels or that arent on labels at all. ... Template:Lyricwiki Modest Mouse is an American indie rock band. ... The anarchy symbol commonly used by anarcho-punks Anarcho-punk (sometimes known as peace-punk) is a subgenre of the punk rock movement consisting of groups and bands promoting specifically anarchist ideas. ... Rubella Ballet playing at the Clarendon Club, London, Christmas Eve 1985 Rubella Ballet were an anarcho-punk band formed in 1980 by former Fatal Microbes guitarist Pete Fender with Annie Anxiety, Gem Stone (also from Fatal Microbes) and Sid the drummer from Flux of Pink Indians. ... This article is about notable bands within the goth scene. ... Sex Gang Children was an early gothic rock group that formed in the early 1980s in Britain. ... For the Adult Film actress, see Alexis Fire. ... Heavy metal is a form of rock music characterized by aggressive, driving rhythms and highly amplified distorted guitars, generally with grandiose lyrics and virtuosic instrumentation. ... Pantera was an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas, that formed in 1981. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ... The Mars Volta is an American progressive rock group founded by Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Isaiah Ikey Owens and Jeremy Michael Ward. ... Morning Runner are an alternative rock band from Reading. ... The Dead Kennedys (often known by their initials DK, as in decay) are a punk band from San Francisco, California. ... Original UK 45 rpm single picture cover: The Dead Kennedys - Too Drunk To Fuck Too Drunk To Fuck was the second Dead Kennedys single to enter the UK chart, reaching No. ... Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death is an album by the Dead Kennedys. ... “NIN” redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music to emerge during the 1950s. ... Northern California, sometimes referred to as NorCal, is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. ... Named after the film Eraserhead, The Eraserheads were the most popular pop/rock band in the Philippines from their early start in the early 1990s to their disbanding in 2002. ... Henry Spencer is a co-author of C News and The Ten Commandments for C Programmers. ... Apartment 26 were an electronic/metal band from Leamington Spa, United Kingdom. ... Bruce McCulloch (born May 12, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta) is an actor, writer, comedian, and film director. ... The Kids in the Hall was a Canadian sketch comedy group, consisting of comedians Dave Foley, Kevin MacDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson. ... Shame-Based Man, released on April 11, 1995 (see 1995 in music), was the first album by the comedian Bruce McCulloch. ... Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a weekly late night 90 minute American comedy-variety show based in New York City that has been broadcast live by NBC on Saturday nights since October 11, 1975. ... Year 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full 1995 Gregorian calendar). ... Amon Tobin performing live. ... Sampling may refer to: Sampling (signal processing), converting a continuous signal into a discrete signal Sampling (music), re-using portions of sound recordings in a piece Sampling (statistics), selection of observations to acquire some knowledge of a statistical population Sampling (case studies), selection of cases for single or multiple case... Permutation Album by Amon Tobin Professional reviews Pitchfork Media 9. ... Apoptygma Berzerk is a Norwegian synthpop/futurepop/alternative rock musical group. ...

DVD availability in Region 1

This movie was once notoriously difficult to acquire in Region 1 (North America) of the DVD region code. Until recently, the only way to acquire this DVD was to purchase it (at $39) through davidlynch.com. The version of the film on the official Region 1 DVDs was remastered for the medium by Lynch himself. North America North America is a continent[1] in the Earths northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. ... DVD Regions Each DVD-Video disc contains one or more region codes, denoting the area(s) of the world in which distribution and playback are intended. ...

Viewers who ordered the film from David Lynch's website received the disc packaged in a special presentation box. The DVD included deleted scenes and a 90-minute documentary about the making of the movie, which essentially consists of Lynch sitting before a microphone, talking about his memories of making the movie (almost like a director's commentary track, but with video). During the piece he also calls Catherine Coulson and they reminisce together about the making of the film. Documentary film is a broad category of visual expression that is based on the attempt, in one fashion or another, to document reality. ...

On January 10, 2006, Eraserhead was made commercially available through retail stores, most DVD rental stores, and Amazon.com when it was redistributed by Subversive Cinema. This re-release had normal DVD packaging instead of the large boxset from David Lynch's website, but the content on the disc itself was the same. The UK DVD release is Region-free, as is the Korean DVD release. Copies of both foreign DVD releases have turned up on eBay. It was released on DVD in Australia, but the DVD was discontinued in 2003, rumours have circulated that a new DVD may be released in mid to late 2007 (2007 being the film's thirtieth anniversary). January 10 is the 10th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays full 2006 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Amazon. ... Size comparison: A 12 cm Sony DVD+RW and a 19 cm Dixon Ticonderoga pencil. ... eBay headquarters in San Jose eBay North First Street satellite office campus (home to PayPal) eBay Inc. ...


  • When the film slowly began to gain popularity and started showing a profit, Lynch re-negotiated the contracts with the actors so they could share in the film's success.
  • Until his death, Jack Nance appeared in every David Lynch film after "Eraserhead" except "The Elephant Man".
  • The film's original cinematographer, Herbert Cardwell fell victim to apparent sudden arrhythmia death syndrome (cardiac arrest brought on by arrhythmia) after just under a year of shooting. He was replaced by Frederick Elmes, a classmate of David Lynch.

A cardiac arrhythmia, also called cardiac dysrhythmia, is a disturbance in the regular rhythm of the heartbeat. ... Frederick Elmes, also known as Fred Elmes, is a cinematographer. ...

See also

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A classic midnight movie in every sense of the term, Tod Brownings Freaks (1932) is the sort of (then) obscure horror film shown on late-night TV beginning in the 1950s; in the 1970s and early 1980s it was a staple of midnight screenings at theaters around the U...


  1. ^ http://www.lynchnet.com/lh/cinebg.html
  2. ^ http://www.dvdverdict.com/printer/eraserhead.php
  3. ^ Ciment, Michel. Kubrick: The Definitive Edition. Faber & Faber, 2003. ISBN 0571211089
  4. ^ http://www.artdamage.com/buk/ginsoaked.htm
  5. ^ http://home.pacbell.net/mcrandy/index.html
  • Hoberman, James and Jonathan Rosenbaum (1983). Midnight Movies. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015052-1. 

External links

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  Results from FactBites:
Eraserhead (1977) (947 words)
Eraserhead takes a walk with your emotions, you don't know whether to be disgusted or intrigued by it.
Eraserhead is the ultimate cult film in my opinion and a must see for every fan of this delicious genre.
Eraserhead isn't his best film at all (certainly not when it comes to storyline) but it's his most deep and personal tale.
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