Full page view
HISTORY

The following Special Thanks appear after the end credits: Ron Barth; Mars F. Baumgardt; Ron Culbertson; Frank Daniel; Richard Einfeld; Jack Fisk; Mary Fisk; Ken Fix; Andre Guttfreund; Marvin Goodwin, M.D.; Randy Hart; Roman Harte; George; T. Hutchison; David Khasky; Jim King; Margit Fellegi Laszlo; Paul Leimbach; David Lunney; Mr. & Mrs. D.W. Lynch; Peggy Lynch; Sarah Pillsbury; Sidney P. Solow; Sissy Spacek; George Stevens, Jr.; Antonio Vellani. After the Special Thanks, another statement notes the following: Produced with the Cooperation of The American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies.
       Although no onscreen title appears for the song performed by the "Lady in the radiator," production materials written by David Lynch at the AMPAS library refer to it as “In Heaven (Everything Is Fine).”
       Eraserhead was the feature film directorial debut of David Lynch and, according to the 11 Sep 1978 Newsweek, he shot the film at night in old stables located on the American Film Institute’s Greystone campus in Beverly Hills, CA. In an interview in the 20 May 2003 Entertainment Today, David Lynch stated he shot the movie over four years with a crew of six or seven people and a 15 Dec 1985 article reported that the director “worked on Eraserhead from 1971 to 1976.” The movie’s listing in the 1977 Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) catalog as well as an article in the 19 Jan 1985 London Times noted that the film completed production in 1976.
       A review in the 18 Mar 1977 LAT indicated that the movie premiered at the 1977 Filmex film festival. According ... More Less

The following Special Thanks appear after the end credits: Ron Barth; Mars F. Baumgardt; Ron Culbertson; Frank Daniel; Richard Einfeld; Jack Fisk; Mary Fisk; Ken Fix; Andre Guttfreund; Marvin Goodwin, M.D.; Randy Hart; Roman Harte; George; T. Hutchison; David Khasky; Jim King; Margit Fellegi Laszlo; Paul Leimbach; David Lunney; Mr. & Mrs. D.W. Lynch; Peggy Lynch; Sarah Pillsbury; Sidney P. Solow; Sissy Spacek; George Stevens, Jr.; Antonio Vellani. After the Special Thanks, another statement notes the following: Produced with the Cooperation of The American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies.
       Although no onscreen title appears for the song performed by the "Lady in the radiator," production materials written by David Lynch at the AMPAS library refer to it as “In Heaven (Everything Is Fine).”
       Eraserhead was the feature film directorial debut of David Lynch and, according to the 11 Sep 1978 Newsweek, he shot the film at night in old stables located on the American Film Institute’s Greystone campus in Beverly Hills, CA. In an interview in the 20 May 2003 Entertainment Today, David Lynch stated he shot the movie over four years with a crew of six or seven people and a 15 Dec 1985 article reported that the director “worked on Eraserhead from 1971 to 1976.” The movie’s listing in the 1977 Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) catalog as well as an article in the 19 Jan 1985 London Times noted that the film completed production in 1976.
       A review in the 18 Mar 1977 LAT indicated that the movie premiered at the 1977 Filmex film festival. According to production materials at the AMPAS library, Eraserhead then opened in Los Angeles, CA on 3 Feb 1978 at the Nuart Theatre, where it ran for many years as a Friday midnight movie.
       The Entertainment Today article noted that Lynch chose to release Eraserhead on DVD through his website because it is the only movie to which he retained all the rights. By the middle of 2005, however, Lynch made a deal with DVD distributor IndieBuyer to make the movie more widely available, according to a news article in the 6 June 2005 HR.
       While reviewers widely acknowledged the film’s intensity and gore, the critical appreciation of those elements ranged from laudatory to scornful. Some contemporary sources reviled the movie, such as the 15 Mar 1977 DV, which called Eraserhead “a sickening bad-taste experience” with “little substance or subtlety,” and the 17 Oct 1980 NYT, which described it as a “murkily pretentious shocker” with an “excruciatingly slow pace.” Other contemporary reviews praised the film’s style and sound effects, as the Newsweek did, or found it to be the product of a “film-maker of rare talent,” as Lynch was described in the 19 Jan 1985 London Times. Modern critiques tended to be more uniformly favorable, with the 7 Dec 2007 NYT noting the movie’s “convulsive beauty” and “macabre comedy.”
       A 9 Sep 1981 Var news item reported that in the fall of 1981, a theater chain in Paris, France re-released Eraserhead under the title Labyrinth Man in order to capitalize on the success of David Lynch’s then more recent directorial effort, The Elephant Man (1980, see entry). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Billboard
17 Jul 1982.
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1977.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jul 1982
p. 12.
Entertainment Today
20 May 2003.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 2005.
---
LA Reader
8 Oct 1993.
---
LA Weekly
8 Oct 1993.
---
LA Weekly
5 Nov 2011.
---
LAHExam
25 Aug 1980.
---
London Times
19 Jan 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Feb 1978
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1985
Calendar, p. 30-32.
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 2008.
---
New York Times
17 Oct 1980.
---
New York Times
7 Dec 2007.
---
Newsweek
11 Sep 1978.
---
Screen International
29 Jan 1993.
---
Variety
23 Mar 1977
p. 24.
Variety
9 Sep 1981.
---
Village Voice
7 Jun 1994.
---
Village Voice
17 Jan 2007.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
David Lynch Presents
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
The cam and lighting
The cam and lighting
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Picture ed
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
Loc sd and re-rec
Sd eff
Sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec effects photog
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the dir
Crew
SOURCES
MUSIC
Pipe organ by "Fats" Waller.
SONGS
"Lady in the radiator song" composed and sung by Peter Ivers, © Copyright MCMLXXVI David Lynch. All rights reserved.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 February 1978
Premiere Information:
Filmex screening: 1977
Los Angeles opening: 3 February 1978 at Nuart Theatre
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Henry Spencer lays on his side with a planet in outer space floating behind his head. The interior of the planet houses a deformed man looking out a window. A ghostly worm-like creature emerges from Henry’s mouth. When the disfigured man pulls a lever, the creature skitters away and falls into a hole of water. Henry appears at the other end of the hole. He walks through a deserted industrial landscape until he arrives at his apartment building. As Henry enters his apartment, the beautiful girl across the hall gives him a message from a woman named Mary: Mary and her parents invite Henry to dinner. That night, Henry walks to Mary’s home. When Mary greets him at the door, Henry asks her why she doesn’t come around anymore. Inside the house, Henry meets Mary’s mother, Mrs. X, who asks him what he does for a living. While Henry explains that he’s on vacation but works as a printer by trade, Mary has a fit. Mrs. X calms her daughter by combing Mary’s hair. Mary’s father, Bill, announces they’re having tiny man-made chickens for dinner. As they sit down to eat, Bill mentions that he got an operation that left him with the ability to move his arm, but he has no sensation in the limb. Bill asks Henry to carve the tiny chickens. Henry starts to carve but the roasted chicken moves its legs on its own as blood pours out of the cavity. Mrs. X has a fit, then runs into the kitchen. Mary runs after her. When Mrs. X ... +


Henry Spencer lays on his side with a planet in outer space floating behind his head. The interior of the planet houses a deformed man looking out a window. A ghostly worm-like creature emerges from Henry’s mouth. When the disfigured man pulls a lever, the creature skitters away and falls into a hole of water. Henry appears at the other end of the hole. He walks through a deserted industrial landscape until he arrives at his apartment building. As Henry enters his apartment, the beautiful girl across the hall gives him a message from a woman named Mary: Mary and her parents invite Henry to dinner. That night, Henry walks to Mary’s home. When Mary greets him at the door, Henry asks her why she doesn’t come around anymore. Inside the house, Henry meets Mary’s mother, Mrs. X, who asks him what he does for a living. While Henry explains that he’s on vacation but works as a printer by trade, Mary has a fit. Mrs. X calms her daughter by combing Mary’s hair. Mary’s father, Bill, announces they’re having tiny man-made chickens for dinner. As they sit down to eat, Bill mentions that he got an operation that left him with the ability to move his arm, but he has no sensation in the limb. Bill asks Henry to carve the tiny chickens. Henry starts to carve but the roasted chicken moves its legs on its own as blood pours out of the cavity. Mrs. X has a fit, then runs into the kitchen. Mary runs after her. When Mrs. X returns to the dining room, she takes Henry aside and asks him if he and Mary had sexual intercourse. She explains that Mary gave birth to a premature baby and Henry is the father. While Mary protests that the doctors aren’t sure whether it really is a baby, Mrs. X insists that Henry and Mary get married and then pick the baby up from the hospital. Henry gets a nosebleed and agrees to wed Mary. Later, while Mary is alone in Henry’s apartment, she tries to feed their baby -- a small, swaddled, nonhuman creature -- but it keeps spitting at her. Meanwhile, in the lobby, Henry goes to his mail slot and takes out a small box containing a tiny live worm. Henry enters the apartment and expresses happiness when he sees Mary feeding the baby. Henry watches the radiator as it is suddenly illuminated from within, revealing a tiny stage inside. That night, while Mary sleeps, Henry gets out of bed, takes the worm out of the box, places the worm in a cabinet and returns to bed. As the baby continues crying, Mary yells at it to be quiet. She gets dressed and announces to Henry that she’s going home to get a decent night’s sleep. Mary tells Henry that he can watch the baby for a night since he’s on vacation. As she leaves, Mary warns Henry that he had better take really good care of the baby until she gets back. In the middle of the night, Henry gets up to take the creature’s temperature. The thermometer reading looks normal, but when Henry looks back at the baby, it is covered in strange growths. He realizes the baby is sick and turns on the vaporizer. The baby sleeps fitfully while Henry returns to bed and watches the radiator. A woman with large, deformed cheeks dances on the stage inside the radiator. She shares the stage with several of the slimy worm-like creatures that she crushes under her feet as she dances. Sometime later, Henry is lying in bed with a feverish, sweaty Mary and finds several worm creatures in the bed. He throws them against the wall. Meanwhile, the cabinet doors open and the worm Henry that placed in there earlier crawls out. One end of the creature opens into a mouth. Inside the mouth, Henry appears alone, sitting on his bed when he answers a knock at the door. He lets in the pretty girl from across the hall who has locked herself out of her apartment. As the baby whimpers, Henry covers its mouth with his hand. When the young woman asks where Henry’s wife is, Henry realizes Mary must have gone back to her parents; but he’s not sure where she is. The girl asks if she can spend the night. Later, as Henry and the girl have sex on his bed, they slowly descend through a cauldron of water. She seems frightened when she looks around and sees the planet. Inside the radiator, the deformed woman on the stage sings about how everything is fine in heaven. Henry approaches her on the stage. As he touches her hand, he hears music and sees a white light. When the light fades, however, Henry is invisible to the woman and she is invisible to him. Suddenly, the woman is replaced by the deformed man. On the stage floor, the worm creatures are blown away by a strong wind. Then a large rock with a tree in it rolls onto the stage. Suddenly, Henry’s head pops off his body and rolls on the floor. Blood pours out of the rock and pools around Henry’s head. A creature similar to the baby emerges from Henry’s neck and starts wailing. Henry’s head falls through the stage, drops into an outdoor location and hits the pavement. A boy picks up the head and runs to a factory where a workman drills a pencil into the skull. The man removes the pencil and places it on a conveyor belt with other pencils. When it comes out the other end of the conveyor belt, the workman announces that the pencil is acceptable and he pays the boy for the head. Henry wakes up in his bed. Later, he knocks on his neighbor’s door, but she doesn’t answer. The baby laughs at him. Henry lies down on his bed, then goes to his door again and sees the young woman who lives across the hall taking a man into her apartment. She has a vision of the headless Henry with the worm coming out of his neck. Henry shuts his apartment door, gets a pair of scissors and cuts the swaddling off of the baby. As it shivers, agitated, the covering falls away, exposing the creature’s internal organs. Henry stabs the organs with the scissors. Blood and other fluids spurt from the organs and from the creature’s mouth. Then a chunky foam oozes out and envelops the creature. The lights in the apartment flicker and Henry suddenly sees that the head of the worm creature has become enormous. The head lunges for him as the lights go out. A hole cracks open in the planet. At the other end of the hole, the deformed man sits near the window, pulling and pushing levers. The deformed singer from the radiator approaches Henry and, as he sees a blinding white light and hears a cacophony, he and the woman embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.