Subsequent appearances of the vagina image are less threatening, as should be the case, given Henry’s desire to re-enter the womb. It becomes an image of absorption (the craters on the Planet’s surface, the mouth of the worm) which culminates in what is perhaps the film’s only moment of beauty, as the bed becomes a pool of milky fluid into which Henry and his neighbour sink in an embrace.
It is at this point that Henry first reaches his Heaven. He journeys through the vagina to emerge into the womb. Standing among the crushed sperm, the deformed blonde sings her brief song about Heaven and then reaches out towards Henry. But he is blinded by a fierce light and the Man in the Planet takes her place. Henry backs away and his head explodes from his shoulders, replaced by the baby, its insistent cry more plaintively demanding than ever. Henry has reached his Heaven, but he cannot possess it – because he penetrated to the womb through an act of sex. But here sex (as the means of procreation) is forbidden. Henry is violently expelled in that image of stillbirth.
This brings us to the image which dominates the film, which becomes its centre as it becomes the centre of Henry’s life: the “baby”. This inhuman (yet still oddly human) creature, which lies unmoving on the table from its first appearance, somehow seems to be in control. It wears Mary down with its incessant demanding cry, finally driving her away. Yet Henry accepts its presence passively. What is this bizarre reptilian thing? From its shape and its position in the film’s structure of symbols, it can be only one thing: the penis (complete with scrotum – the bandage-wrapped sac to which the head is attached by a thin neck). But it is the penis grown out of all proportion; it has become a separate entity, all appetite. Its cry for attention hardly ever stops. It even disturbs the neighbour as she is willingly giving herself to Henry. Mary is driven away by its need, she rejects its demands (and Henry’s slightest sexual move) and is, as a punishment, “infected” by its product, the malignant sperm.
After Mary has left, the baby continues its wailing. Henry wants to leave the apartment, the claustrophobic trap of his tiny airless room, but every time he reaches for the door the baby cries out again. Henry turns back to discover it a mass of repulsive blisters. “Oh,” says Henry with a mild concern, “you are sick.” He attempts to treat it, his actions as mild and ineffectual as ever. But perhaps in that moment he has his first glimmer of where his true problem lies. For it is this thing which blocks his access to Heaven. He is ruled by the penis, the source of the dreaded sperm, agent of reproduction; and is thus unworthy. This is the meaning of the decapitation sequence. Control by the penis is complete.