(1977)5Keith PhippsAn open-ended metaphor with the tone of a nightmare, David Lynch's debut feature combines disturbing visuals with what may be an even more disturbing sound design to create an unforgettable film that's affecting on a visceral level. A Cronenberg-ian discomfort with the simple fact of physical existence courses through Eraserhead, beginning with, but not limited to, matters of sexuality and reproduction. In an early scene, Lynch turns even a family dinner into a horrific affair, emphasizing the inherent grotesqueness of the mere act of eating. The later introduction of a deformed, extremely vocal child seems not the least bit out of place in a world in which even the most mundane aspect (a radiator not the least among them) is notable for its ability to disturb. While Lynch would rarely return to the outright fantasy worlds he explores here, Eraserhead nonetheless sets up the obsessions that would follow him through his career, particularly the ability of the seemingly ordinary to unsettle upon closer observation. That the dystopia Jack Nance inhabits resembles reality tilted at 45 degrees owes more to Lynch's unique vision than his film's low-budget origins. Everything from John Merrick to a field with a severed ear falls into place after seeing Eraserhead.