The Short Films of David Lynch / Dumbland
The David Lynch DVD releases of The Short Films of David Lynch and Dumbland (previously available at high prices on Lynch’s website, now affordable at retail outlets) are essential next stops for anyone who has exhausted the director’s output. The Short Films disc is the more comprehensive, with Lynch explaining what led to each of the films. The works, which predate Eraserhead and then go well into his career, range from the abstract (The Grandmother) to the linear (sitcom pilot The Cowboy and the Frenchman). Even the film school experiments have the stamp of a major visionary. The Dumbland DVD is sparse—a series of eight short, animated black- and-white episodes that play as the missing link between Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, but taken to a level of decadence way beyond Mike Judge’s. The lead is a nameless suburban oaf who beats his seizure-prone wife and strikes terror into his son, who resembles a sperm with legs. The only tenderness comes as he and a visiting friend bond over how they like to kill things. It’s easy to see that Lynch is reacting to the celebrated depravity of American nuclear TV families. But Dumbland is less satiric than a self-contained nightmare. It’s hilarious because it’s too terrifying not to laugh at.