In the Beginning: Three Short Films by David Lynch

Whenever I pay one of my sporadic visits to TSL HQ, it seems there’s always something going on with these crazy kids. This month, it’s TWIN PEAKS fever, with everyone buzzing about David Lynch . Lisa and the gang just won’t stop gabbing about it, and since I can’t concentrate  on my own work, I figure if you can’t beat ’em join ’em! So let’s take a brief look at three of David Lynch’s very early works, before he became the auteur he is today.

Lynch’s first work on film was a one minute short called SIX MEN GETTING SICK (SIX TIMES), a 1966 experimental piece of animation based on a painting of his. It features the six men having their stomachs filled by red bile, which snakes it’s way up their intestines, causing them to vomit out a purplish puke, over and over, set to the sound of a wailing siren. It reminded me a bit of Terry Gilliam’s work with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and Lynch’s first stab at filmmaking showed promise. The next short I viewed was 1968’s THE ALPHABET, a four minute piece that combines live action with animation. In this one, a woman is dreaming about children repeating the A-B-C’s in sing-song fashion, followed by some bizarre graphics involving letters, and the woman crazily reciting the alphabet. Lynch’s use of sound here (whistling wind, crying babies), and the surrealistic use of red blood in the shot-in-black-and-white film, make this an interesting attempt.

THE ALPHABET earned Lynch an AFI grant, and his next short was a bit more ambitious. 1970’s THE GRANDMOTHER is my favorite of the triumvirate, with more narrative than the previous two, but still in a tripped-out vein. Another live action/animation hybrid, THE GRANDMOTHER is the story of a boy whose parents are, quite frankly, assholes. When the boy wets his bed, abusive Dad continuously rubs his face in the piss. Drunken Mom aggressively tries to molest the youngster. Feeling alienated and unloved, the boy stumbles onto a bag of seeds, and planting one, grows a loving, benign Grandmother of his very own. (Grandma grows out of a pod a’la INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS! ). The boy and his new Grandmother have a kind, affectionate relationship, and the child fantasizes about offing his parents via animation, then Grandma gets sick and dies, and the boy lives miserably ever after. This 33 minute short has a real 70’s grindhouse horror feel to it, and of the three I watched, I recommend THE GRANDMOTHER above all.

So there you have it, my contribution to the works of David Lynch is complete. Even though I’m not a big fan of his, my contractual obligation has been met. Now will you guys keeps the noise down so I can finish typing up my piece on WINCHESTER ’73?!?! Sheesh… kids these days!

7 responses to “In the Beginning: Three Short Films by David Lynch

  1. I’ve got a DVD of Lynch’s short films and they’ve also been shown on TCM Underground. The Alphabet was definitely the most nightmarish but, ultimately, all three of them were very interesting to view, if just to see all the hints of the director (and artist) that Lynch would eventually become. Even in his short films, he understood the importance of both sound and silence.

    Speaking of sound and silence, sorry for the noise. We’ll try to keep it down. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) | Through the Shattered Lens

  3. Pingback: TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.22 “Beyond Life and Death” (dir by David Lynch) | Through the Shattered Lens

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