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An Eraserhead Christmas

December 23, 2008

The post below is over two years old. I am reposting it for two reasons: the download link is still active (it was reupped eons ago!) and I just watched Eraserhead with my 17-year-old son last night.
It’s a Christmas tradition worth sharing.
No kidding.
In the 80’s, when I was a teen, my sister married a guy named Tony who became like a mixture of big brother and best friend to me.
We became inseparable and would often haunt all the video rental stores in a 50 square mile radius for weirder and weirder movies.
I was heavily into reading about movies that – in that pre-internet age – I had little hope of ever seeing. I had read about John Waters, Russ Meyers, Jodorowsky and others for years and craved to see them all. We found that the myriad of video rental stores, almost all of them mom-and-pop owned, usually had one or two weird gem tucked away somewhere. Often the owner would be curious and pick up some movie, despite it being esoteric and weird for hickoid Vancouver Washington.
So, imagine our surprise and delight when we found a video store* that had a copy of Eraserhead. I had been reading about this movie in the excellent book For One Week Only and would exhaustively read and reread the plot synopsis. I was intrigued also by snippets of the soundtrack that I would hear on late night radio shows on KBOO. Eraserhead occupied this holy place of weird movies on my list of must sees. We were so exited, we immediately went home to my Mom and Dad’s and set up two VCRs (kind of unheard of, unless you were a complete movie geek back then) to copy it. Such a sacred document needed to be preserved, didn’t it?
We watched it awestruck. Nothing I had read about it prepared me for it. I was numb for days afterward.
The buzz was infectious, apparently as others in my family wanted to know what the broughhaha was all about. This was Christmas holiday and we ended up showing it to lots of my family on Christmas eve. My Dad, who was used to Tony and I watching strange movies vacated the living room. As long as it wasn’t dirty or really violent or profane, he more or less didn’t care what we watched.
So, it was a surreal Christmas. David Lynch’s bizarre little piece of art became both conversation piece and theme for that particular Christmas. At least that’s how I remember it.

*The store that had it is still open. They still take courageous chances with movies, as well. It’s Video Connections in Hazel Dell, a suburb of Vancouver Washington.

David Lynch and Alan Splet
Eraserhead Soundtrack
I.R.S.

I don’t have to explain any of this to you, do I?
This is one of the few movie soundtracks that stands up well without its visuals. It’s a brilliant piece of Musique Concrete all on it’s own. And this is also the way I first encountered Eraserhead, thanks to a very outre radio show host (Daniel Flessas, Outside World). Lynch wisely chose to simply sample two long samples of the film itself, rather than isolate out any musical elements (largely made up of borrowed Fats Waller organ music). the result is a creepy industrial soap opera, set in some limbo-like hell. the oft-covered In Heaven song was penned by the late, great Peter Ivors, of Vitamin P and New Wave Theatre fame.

In heaven, everything is fine.
(re-upped 11/12/06)

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One comment

  1. Great post! Totally agree on both the movie and soundtrack. I love David Lynch, and I’m glad he has gone back off the deep end with “Inland Empire”.



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