David Lynch isn't everybody's cup of coffee. With a penchant for work that embraces dream-logic and unusual imagery, it's understandable that most of his output doesn't sit easily with wider, mainstream audiences.
Lynch began his career as he meant to go on, with some frankly terrifying animated short films in the sixties like The Alphabet. For nearly 50 years since, he has beaten down his own, surrealistic path as a director of film and television, a musician, and an artist. He often eschews the mainstream, and famously even rejected a George Lucas offer to direct Return of the Jedi. Which disappointingly means we will never get to see what a Lynchian Ewok might look like.
He's an undoubted maverick who rarely elaborates on the meaning behind much of his work, instead allowing the audience to interpret it however they see fit. And while this adds to the mystery of its symbolism, it also allows for pieces to be mis-construed by audiences as ultimately being senseless and willfully obtuse.
Endlessly perplexing, but infinitely interesting, these are just some of Lynch's finest attempts at creating audience confusion.
7. The Dinner (Eraserhead)
Lynch's directorial debut, Eraserhead, is a black-and-white surrealistic nightmare. Filled with bizarre dream-like sequences (such as the girl in the radiator and finding out how pencil eraser heads are actually made), there's one particular scene which plays out in gloriously weird Lynch-o-vision.
The dinner scene sees Henry (Jack Nance) being introduced for the first time to the slightly odd parents of his girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart). Her manic father, played by Lynch stalwart Harry Dean Stanton, is the master of demented small talk ("So, Henry. Whaddya know?"). And he's a man desperate to show Henry the current state of his knees. Mary's mother is no better, speaking in tongues whenever dinner is served, and attempting to tongue Henry's neck when she's interrogating him.
It's already the dinner party from hell then, and that's before you've seen what's on the menu. Tiny "man-made" chickens are served up and as Henry confusedly attempts to carve the little critters ("I just cut them up like regular chickens?"), he finds they're actually still alive and bleeding.
As with much of Lynch's work, the dinner scene gleefully dances the line between surreal comedy and nightmarish horror.