David Lynch: How Eraserhead influenced The Shining


David Lynch is one of the United States’ most daring filmmakers. Believe it or not, his avant-garde horror movie, Eraserhead had a profound impact on Stanley Kubrick and The Shining.

David Lynch is one of the world’s leading film visionaries. He has been perfecting his craft of painting surreal images on movie screens for over five decades. The director vehemently refuses to discuss the meanings behind his works because he wants audiences to draw their own conclusions.

Stanley Kubrick is also an auteur like Lynch. He is known for his epic approach to filmmaking and his perfectionism which usually yielded cinematic classics like Spartacus and Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Believe it or not, Lynch was very influential in the making of Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. According to Showbiz CheatSheet, Eraserhead was one of the artist’s favorite films.

For those readers who have not seen David Lynch’s haunting black and white horror effort, it tells the story of Henry Spencer. A factory worker who finds out that he impregnated his girlfriend, Mary and is now the father of a hideously deformed child.

Henry attempts to do the right thing so the pair end up living together in his cramped efficiency. Neither prepared or suited for parenthood, their relationship is tested on a daily basis because their offspring never stops wailing.

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Finally, frustrated with her life and not wanting to be a mother, Mary leaves Spencer to take care of their mutant infant. This does not end well because in an act of agitation, Henry kills his spawn.

Bleak and claustrophobic, Lynch’s first feature length film became an instant cult, midnight movie classic. One can see why Kubrick would have been attracted to it and why it would have been a driving force behind The Shining.

Both Henry and Jack Torrance’s families are dysfunctional. Jack’s wife, Wendy is trying to protect their son, Danny from her husband’s increasing mood swings and bouts of temper. Mix in the unfortunate isolating circumstances of being the caretaker of a hotel during a Colorado winter and the Torrance’s saga does manage to mirror Henry Spencer’s.

To inspire the cast and crew of The Shining, Kubrick held a screening of Eraserhead. He hoped that after viewing, they would use the atmospheric film as inspiration.

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Eraserhead and The Shining are available for streaming on You Tube, VUDU, Amazon Prime, Google Play and iTunes.

Do you see where Stanley Kubrick incorporated David Lynch’s Eraserhead into The Shining? Let us know in the comments.