Unsettling cult horror has gore and trauma.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eraserhead is a 1977 cult horror movie by David Lynch with body gore and unsettling themes. The story centers around the strange goings on in the life of recluse Henry Spencer (Jack Nance). The movie has a very surreal tone and characters behave in strange ways, accepting odd circumstances and events as normal. This includes Henry and his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) having a baby that appears to be some sort of animal creature or alien being. The film is unnerving and nightmarish, which some viewers may find disturbing. There is some gore as characters contract strange illnesses and display painful scars and sores. In one brief interlude, a severed head falls from a great height to break apart slightly on the floor, while later the baby is stabbed with scissors and wails in pain. Sex is referenced and implied with two characters kissing while topless. At one point Henry is forcibly kissed by a woman and is clearly uncomfortable. Swearing is rare, with only one use of "s--t," while one character smokes a cigarette.
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What's the Story?
ERASERHEAD follows eccentric loner Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) through becoming a new parent to a child that doesn't appear to be entirely human.
Is It Any Good?
This feature-length debut from filmmaker David Lynch is a surreal, black-humored treat for fans of horror and the weird and wonderful. Eraserhead still has the ability to shock and surprise years after its 1977 release. It has many of the motifs that mark Lynch's most famous works -- most notably the TV series Twin Peaks -- from a disjointed plot to characters prone to strange and erratic behavior. Budget constraints meant the movie's stop-start production took several years to complete. But on final viewing Nance remains a constant as leading man Henry. Reticent and rattled, he seems to stumble through life from one bizarre situation to the next. The anxiety of caring for his other-worldly "child" is the movie at its most relatable. The rest is gory, visceral, and inventive. It might be too light on dialogue and nightmarish for some, but Eraserhead inarguably showcases Lynch's wild imagination and raised the curtain for his remarkable career in the arts.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the world in which Eraserhead takes place. In what ways was it strange? How did this add to the story? Did you find it scary or unsettling?
Discuss the film's violence and gore. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
The film is considered a cult classic. What makes a film a cult movie? What other cult movies have you seen?
- In theaters: February 3, 1978
- Cast: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph
- Director: David Lynch
- Studio: Libra Films
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 21, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Surreal cult hit might be too disturbing for teens.
The Elephant Man
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For kids who love cult horror
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