Throughout his early days as a filmmaker, David Lynch produced a string of low budget shorts. The second of these was a experimental horror film called The Alphabet – Lynch’s first real experience filming live action.
The budget for the short was a measly $1000, of which Lynch spend almost half on a second-hand Bolex camera, the “camera of his dreams.” The rest was spent on producing four-minutes of pure terror.
Don’t show this to your kids: David Lynch’s horrifying 1968 short ‘film The Alphabet’ – inspired by his niece’s nightmares.
As Dangerous Minds note, the part animated, part live action film was inspired by the niece of Lynch’s wife Peggy, who had been reciting the alphabet in her sleep during a nightmare.
For the closing passage, Lynch painted the Peggy a ghastly white – resulting is a striking resemblance to Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist – and filmed her in a black room.
In her tormented bed, Peggy is bedevilled by the singsong alphabet, which is recited alongside jarring frames of each letter, before she curls up and then spurts forth blood all over the stark white sheets.
It’s terrifying stuff, and the short film was a big break for Lynch, who was awarded an American Film Institute production grant for his efforts.
Read more about David Lynch’s early short films here. Watch The Alphabet below, and the God’s sake, don’t show it to your kids.