Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tetsuo: The Iron Man

Film: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars

Here is a little stream of consciousness to describe my thought processes while watching Tetsuo:

Okay, this looks interesting. Black and white. Japanese. Very artsy. Metal. Steam. More metal. I'm detecting a pattern. Wait, what is he...holy fuck, OUCH! Ow, ow, ow. I hope that was sterile. Why on earth did....oh god, oh god, maggots! Ugh. Okay, better now. More metal. More steam. These are kickass title credits. What the...ew, blood pimple. Nasty. Who's this chick now? 'the fuck? Octopus hand?! I'm confused. Metal. Did he just get punched from one side of town to the other? Only in Japan. What's happening? Who's the black dude? Something's happening to the main guy. More metal. Is that a pipe? Random sex. Even more random Asian lady with a vaccum hose penis. Um, he's naked - this can't end well. Okay, new chick. Whoa, did his dick just turn into a...? Yep. Metal metal metal. Get out of there! Blood blood blood. There's that black guy again. I'm still confused. Metal everywhere. Mild steam. Epic robot fight - this is way better than Transformers.

In a nutshell - it's bizarre; it's confusing; it's basically Japan's answer to Eraserhead. The plot is simply this: a man starts turning into a cyborg after a hit-and-run accident with a metal fetishist. Make sense? Who knows. I enjoyed the movie, and will probably watch it again. If nothing else, it is very unique. The cinematography is WILD. Tsukamoto goes crazy with the camera, dipping it all over the place. I accidently watched the first twenty minutes of this film on 2x zoom and had no idea because the visuals are so bold and erratic.

The script does not offer much, but let's face it, Tetsuo is all about the crazy visuals. You are in for dizzying camerwork and envelope-pushing gore. What else would you expect from the Japanese? I like the film's soundtrack, which is largely comprised of mechanical noises - like a much creepier version of "Stomp." In the lead role, Tomorowo Taguchi is great, as are his female co-stars Kei Fujiwara, and Nobu Kanaoka, who make for scary, sexy monsters.

If I had to summarize this film in less than 5 words, I would say: Japanese industrial cybertronic eye-fuck. It clocks in at only 67 minutes, but that's a full hour assault on your senses. If you watch Asian horror, see this. (Real Asian horror, not that ghost story bullshit). If you are a fan of Davids Lynch or Cronenberg, see this. If the idea of merging flesh and metal turns you on, definitely see this. It is not for everybody, but for a select group of sickos out there, Tetsuo is exactly what you're looking for.

**If you enjoy Tetsuo: The Iron Man, be sure to check out its modern counterpart - a fun homage film called Electric Dragon 80,000V, which I reviewed here.


Johnny Vengeance said...

I realize you only gave it 3 1/2 but I fucking love this movie! It might be one of my favorites from the 90's!

Rick "The Hat" Bman said...

This is definitely a pretty damn trippy movie. Its been awhile since I have seen it and I probably need to see it again. I'll have to give Electric Dragon 80,000V a try.

Heather said...

Dave: 3.5 stars = 7/10. That's not too shabby for a first viewing :P