Friday, August 31, 2012
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a 1989 black and white movie by Shinya Tsukamoto which is considered the titan of Japanese cyberpunk. This was his third and most well-known to film to date.
The story involves a man only known as "the Metal Fetishist" (played by Tsukamoto) being run down by a car driven by a salaryman and his lady friend. After the accident, the salaryman slowly starts to turn into metal and a battle ensues between the two men.
While that plot may seem straightforward, this movie is anything but. What ensues is 70 minutes of total fucking insanity. Chaotic and frenetic camerawork, stop motion, maggots, coils, wires, and a truly awesome industrial soundtrack. There are some extremely graphic scenes, including the rather infamous sex scene between the salaryman and his woman which ends none too well for her.
Everything moves at lightning speed. The same way some video games or videos come with a warning for people prone to seizures, so should this movie. The first time I saw this I only made it halfway through before my head started pounding. The plot itself while important, is second to the images themselves. And what memorable images they are.
More than anything, this is surrealism at its unpretentious best. While one can easily draw comparisons with some of Cronenberg's body horror and Lynch's weirdoness (especially Eraserhead), Tsukamoto has crafted something unique and memorable. The sense of dread with technology taking over and metal and machinery replacing what once was an undotted landscape is one that is revisited in many of his films, but this is where it all started.