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Tetsuo: The Iron Man

Tetsuo: The Iron Man

1988, Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto

Tomoroh Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto


If you wanna watch a film that'll make you say (and I quote); "What the fuck did I just watch?", then Tetsuo is right up your alley. Both bizarre and disturbing, Tetsuo is more proof that most Japanese directors are just plain weird. If you want something to compare it to, imagine a Japanese David Lynch weaned on ultra violent manga. Shot in black and white and using extensive stop motion animation, Tetsuo can be hard on the senses in more than one way. The action is kinetic and the camera cuts are jarring, so it can be hard to watch. The story is convoluted, and even when it starts to make sense it doesn't really make sense.

What, are there crumbs on my shirt?

Tetsuo is meant to be a commentary on the loss of humanity in a post - industrial society. Sure, whatever. Called part of the "regular-size monster series" by Kaijyu Studios, this is a revenge story. Sure there's little symbolic shots here and there, but it's like trying to hide an allegory about the dangers of genetic engineering in Ultraman. Not that you can't pull off such a thing, it's just that no one's really looking. The revenge is sought by the "Metal Fetishist" who sticks a metal rod in his leg in the opening scene of the film. As one would expect from a decidedly unprofessional operation, the wound festers and he bugs out. He runs into the street and gets nailed by a car. The driver and his girlfriend put him in the backseat and bring him to the woods, where they leave him on the ground and copulate up against a tree. The rest of the film concerns itself with the driver's body slowly turning into metal as the Fetishist designs his revenge. Their final confrontation is truly bizarre and provides a strange, somewhat unsatisfactory ending.

Damn this plate in my head, first radio stations, now this!

IN CLOSING: A plot analysis of Tetsuo is difficult because the film presents itself as less of a coherent story than a bombardment of images. It can be entertaining to those of us whose brains are wired a little differently; it appeals to both the intellectual and the sicko. It's fair amount of blood and nastiness (particularly the "sex" scene) should excite the gorehounds among us, and those of us who are more tuned into the message of the film will find themselves intellectually satisfied. Even though it sounds like it would be a good idea, no drugs are needed while watching this film. Eating is not recommended.