Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Eraserhead (1977)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Eraserhead (1977)

In director David Lynch's feature debut film - a surrealistic, troubling, expressionistic, nightmarish, 'midnight movie' cult and comic-horror film about the fear of fatherhood and an unwanted pregnancy:

  • the opening dream sequence of a pock-marked "Man in the Planet" (Jack Fisk) sitting in a building (next to a cracked window) with an open roof manipulating mechanical levers that were controlling the central nervous system (sexual desires?) of timid factory worker Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), a printer - it was revealed in Henry's fear dream (about accidentally getting his female partner pregnant) as he floated in space near a planet (his brain?), that he was having pre-marital sexual intercourse with his girlfriend Mary X (Charlotte Stewart); a giant sperm was ejected from his mouth, flew into space, and fell downwards and entered into (or splashed into) Mary's dark puddle (vagina, egg or womb) -- impregnation or conception
Henry's Fear-Dream of Impregnating Partner
Dream: Henry's Head Floating in Space
Dream: Giant Wriggling Sperm Ejected From Henry
Dream: Sperm Falls into Puddle
  • the bleak, lonely living conditions shown as depressed blue-collar worker Henry returned home to his slum apartment in a noisy, industrial wasteland neighborhood after a post-apocalyptic event (a mushroom cloud picture was hanging next to Henry's bed); in the corridor outside his drab apartment, the sexy character of the desirous "Beautiful Girl Across the Hall" (Judith Anna Roberts) spoke to Henry about a call from his unmarried partner Mary; inside their claustrophobic, one-room dwelling (with no view and only one window, facing a brick wall) was a radiator with electrical wires attached to it
Henry Returning to His Drab Apartment
"Beautiful Girl Across the Hall"
  • the sexualized dinner scene of Henry's visit to the home of Mary X with her unusual parents: Mr. X (Allen Joseph) and Mrs. X (Jeanne Bates), and grandmother (Jean Lange); Henry told them: "I'm on vacation"; when Henry was presented with a whole, cooked artificial ("man-made") mini-chicken on a plate, Mr. X suggested: "Mary usually does the carving, but maybe tonight you'll do it, Henry. All right with you?" - Henry responded: "Of course. I'd be happy to. (long pause) Do I just, uh, just cut them up like regular chickens?"; as Henry stabbed the chicken to hold it down with a large fork utensil, it began pulsating bloody pus from its crotch area (childbirth metaphor, or loss of virginity metaphor?) - and its legs began kicking, while Mrs. X across from Henry began to moan as her head angled backwards, before she fled from the table with Mary X
Awkward Dinner Scene With Mary's Family
  • and then at the start of dinner, Henry was pulled aside and confronted by Mary's pressuring mother: "Did you and Mary have sexual intercourse?...You're in very bad trouble if you won't cooperate!"; after strangely licking Henry's neck and being pulled off by Mary, the mother announced: "There's a baby. It's at the hospital...and you're the father!"; Henry disagreed: "But that's impossible. It's only been..."; Mary blurted out: "Mother, they're still not sure it is a baby"; the mother continued: "It's premature, but there's a baby. After the two of you are married, which should be very soon, you can pick the baby up"; Mary noticed that the stressed Henry had a nosebleed, and then anxiously asked: "You don't mind, do you, Henry? I-I mean about getting married" - he responded: "Oh, no"
  • the stark views of the couple's deformed, monstrous, bleating, sickly and whining lamb-like mutant baby brought home from the hospital wrapped with bandages; it was covered with sores and pox marks, and wheezing in their one-room industrial-type apartment tenement; in disgust and anger, Mary moved out and deserted Henry who was left alone to care for the mutant
  • the ('wet-dream') appearance of the Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near) - Henry's fantasy 'dream-girl' - with deformed cheeks, who would also be seen singing on a stage: "In heaven, everything is fine" to reassure Henry, while mutated worms (spermatozoa) fell from the ceiling
  • the dream scene of Henry's affair with the provocative "Beautiful Girl Across the Hall" (possibly a prostitute) who seduced Henry - they melted into bed together in a pool of milk (semen?)
  • the dream scene of the judgment of Henry as a father (who wished to murder his abomination of a son) - Henry's head was severed by a phallic-shaped appendage that burst from his neck; eventually Henry's decapitated head rolled onto the ground where it was found by a child in a puddle of blood (with its brain showing) and taken to a pencil factory, where one of the workers took a part of Henry's brain and turned it into the eraser of a pencil (a symbol of Henry's sublimated wish to "erase" what was happening?); on Henry's neck stump, a new deformed head (the mutant baby) grew in its place
Judgment Upon Henry - Severed Head and Transformed Neck Stump
Phallic-Shaped Appendage on Henry's Neck Stump
Henry's Severed Head
Henry's Head Replaced by Mutant Baby's Head
  • the surrealistic final scene of Henry killing his hideous, deformed reptilian baby; he cut into the baby's bandaged middle with scissors, causing it to bleed, gurgle, and screech; to put it out of its misery, Henry then stabbed the creature in the heart, producing an oozing white liquid (the baby's innards?); the neck of the baby elongated and then the head grew gigantic, became disembodied and teleported to different places; Henry was unable to cope with the fact of his own homicidal murder of his own child and went insane; suddenly, the baby's head was replaced by the planet (Henry's brain from the opening) that exploded; in the film's most iconic image, the explosion caused Henry's fractured head to be surrounded by the pencil erasure shavings of his own brain - (a possible suicide?)
  • the after-death sequence of a relieved Henry (with his mind literally erased) entering Dream-land (in bright white light) to embrace the pure and innocent puffy-cheeked Lady in the Radiator

Henry's Apartment Window View

Henry Spencer and Mary X

Mrs. X: "Did you and Mary have sexual intercourse?"

Sick Mutant Baby

Dream: Sex With the "Beautiful Girl Across the Hall"

Lady in the Radiator: "In heaven, everything is fine"

Cutting Open the Mutant Baby

Stabbing the Baby's Heart With Scissors

Elongated Neck of Baby

Henry's Eraserhead

Henry in "Dreamland" (Heaven) with Lady in the Radiator


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z