“Mary tells me you’re a very nice fellow.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary discusses this iconic film at greater length in his first Cult Movies book, where he notes that it’s “unpleasant and often repellent, but all the while it is riveting and fascinating, not unlike sideshow acts at the carnival. It is cruel and sadistic, but has moments of compassion and humor; is about all things alien, but about things that ring a responsive chord; is full of images that are in themselves ugly or bland, yet… everything is touched with beauty.” He describes Henry’s apartment building as “the type… one fears ending up in when stranded in a strange town after all the decent hotels have closed down,” and points out that “Henry’s room is worse than depressing” given that “his one window faces a brick wall.” When Henry “visits his plain-looking, shabbily dressed girlfriend, Mary X, in a scene that outdoes every awful boyfriend-meets-girlfriend’s family sequence you’ve seen (or experienced),” we undergo a “painful excursion into black comedy” which includes a “man-made chicken which spurts awful slime and moves by itself” for dinner. Suffice it to say that every element of Lynch’s vision defies easy explanation and leaves us “never (mentally) finished ‘working out’ [the] film, never through thinking about it.”
Note: Citing a critic from The Village Voice, Peary describes Henry and Mary’s mutant baby as “a mewling, eye-rolling first cousin to the skinned rabbit from Repulsion (1965)” — which is absolutely, freakily accurate.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)