A heavy-metal nightmare that
has invited comparison to Eraserhead -- except that David
Lynch's film was obsessively slow, while Shinya Tsukamoto (who
serves as his own editor) keeps the scenes short, fast, anguished.
It's a hyperactive Japanese
idea of apocalyptic surrealism -- so fractured and jangled that
its themes (tormented flesh revolting against encroaching technology)
come through only in spurts.
what is it about?
For a while, I thought the
whole thing was the dream of a car-crash victim in the hospital
and hooked up to a life-support system -- there's a recurring
image of a car speeding at the camera.
a plot somewhere in there?
Sigh. All right, if I must:
A bespectacled, ordinary drone (Tomoroh Taguchi, looking like
David Byrne singing "Once in a Lifetime" in Stop
Making Sense) shoves an iron rod into his leg and finds
his body turning into a tangled riot of hardware. He dukes it
out with a couple of similarly appendaged beings, one of whom
drops mad pronouncements about world domination. In the end,
these two adversaries merge and, presumably, lay waste to the
Tetsuo sometimes seems like an attack on Japan's fascination
with technology, sometimes like a parody of the anime
in which robots hammer away at each other. It also answers questions
like, "What does an Iron Man do for sex?"
does an Iron Man do for sex?
The protagonist develops a
whirring penis-drill and menaces his girlfriend with it.
Indeed. You don't care whether
this is a satire of ironclad misogyny or an example of it; you
just don't want to see the woman anywhere near that drill.
an interesting Amazon.com customer review of this, titled "A
horror movie about being gay in Japan"?
There is indeed; click here to see it.
enjoy the film?
Up to a point. Shot in black
and white (by Tsukamoto and Kei Fujiwara), Tetsuo isn't
as disgusting as it would be in color, but it has more than a
few images that rival Eraserhead's grossest moments --
and those are the images that Tsukamoto bashes you with again
and again. Unquestionably it's a feat of imagination and technique,
but an hour of it is more than enough; you're punchy well before
the sequel, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer?
It's more abrasive, more incomprehensible,
and more conventional in its story. This time, Tomoroh Taguchi's
son is kidnapped and he goes ballistic, turning his body into
a weapon. There's much bashing around, much screaming and techno-agony;
not a lot of readily accessible meaning, though.
thoughts on the films as a whole?
They're like the hallucinations
of a college kid who's been up for three days on nothing but
coffee and No-Doz. (Weed might sharpen their appeal for some
viewers.) Visually overwhelming (or overbearing), but enough,