The films range from early experimental shorts that employ a kind of twisted animation – sort of reminiscent of early Terry Gilliam cartoons but much darker– mixed with the surreal and nightmarish images Lynch is known for, to later shorts that show his defined yet equally artistic cinematic sensibilities.
Of the earlier shorts I particularly like The Alphabet, which will make you never look at the ABC’s the same way again, while I’d say that Premonition Following an Evil Deed, from 1995, is an ominous flash of one-minute brilliance.
The Amputee versions 1 and 2, featuring Lynch himself as a nurse tending the bandages of a woman played by none other than Catherine Coulson who would go on to play the Log Lady from Twin Peaks, were two separate takes from 1974 meant as test footage for Lynch during his time studying at the AFI.
1970’s The Grandmother is a wordless film, mixing live action footage and animation to tell the story of a boy who grows a grandmother to take care of him instead of his abusive parents. Lynch imbues the otherwise whimsical tale with grotesque signatures much like Eraserhead, and relies on ambient music cues to set the tone – an ability that he would hone to near perfection in such films as his 1986 classic, Blue Velvet. The Grandmother is the longest film out of the lot with about a 30 minute runtime, and is probably the best.
So what does this all mean for the Collection? The addition of these shorts, which were previously self-distributed by Lynch in 2002, to the Hulu page adds more fuel to the fire that they are gearing up for a whole lot of Lynch. Eraserhead has been up on Criterion’s page for months now, and they also conspicuously added his 2002 animated series DumbLand awhile ago too.
Eraserhead is a given to receive a standalone release and I see the short films as most likely being put out in an Eclipse set. It’s wishful thinking that DumbLand would perhaps be Criterion’s first foray into animation, but something tells me they’re so minor in Lynch’s oeuvre that they’ll be supplements on the Eraserhead release if not included in the Eclipse set.
Either way if you’re a fan of David Lynch get ready for his inclusion in the Collection. It’s been a long time coming, and hopefully this influx of films will mean more of his work will get the Criterion treatment down the line.