First public screening of Lynch's Eraserhead
supposedly took place at an LA film festival on March 19th 1977 for an audience of approximately twenty-five people.
I first saw Eraserhead
when I was in Grade 8. The local art gallery was having a screening. This was during the time of Twin Peaks
so my father and I were eager to check it out. The art gallery didn't have a proper theatre; it was just a large room with plastic chairs. There wasn't even a projector booth, they just had the 16MM sitting at the back of the room, so its loud clanking and the sputtering of the film going through the gate was audible the entire screening. There would be a white screen and a pause with each reel change.
The primitive screening set-up only enhanced my viewing experience. I remember being absorbed completely by the movie, I'd never seen anything like it. The high contrast black and white, the weird sense of humour where I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be laughing or not...
And that baby freaked the shit out of me. It was so pitiful looking, I was horrified by the thought, "What if that's a real thing? Some deformed animal." When there was the shock cut to the close-up of the baby's face with all the sores on it I just about lost my shit.
Obviously, the movie has stuck with me ever since. I keep my old VHS copy still. Would love to see a film print of this bizarre masterpiece again.