Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

It is often difficult to describe the technological powerhouse that is TETSUO: THE IRON MAN. Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto gives the viewer very little direction when it comes to the narrative, focusing less on the dialog and characters than on the insane visuals. Although it isn't easily discernible, the plot involves a business man that drifts in and out of an industrial nightmare, where his body begins absorbing the metal object around him while turning him into a mechanical monstrosity. These horrifying visions are inter-cut with blurred memories of a terrible hit and run accident where he was left the victim, but which of these two worlds represents reality, and which is just a dream? TETSUO is filmed with a fevered pace and hyper-kinetic energy that explodes on-screen, engulfing the audience in a sea of wires and steel. The mangled bodies of metal and flesh immediately draw to mind the works of David Cronenberg (particularly VIDEODROME), while the rough black and white filming and crude but effective animation can't help but recall David Lynch's ERASERHEAD. Despite these similarities, Tsukamoto proves to be an inventor in his field, and he has created a style and energy that has gone unmatched through the TETSUO series.

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, check out:
PI, VIDEODROME, ERASERHEAD.

7 comments:

  1. Haven't seen this in *years.* I used to hang out a bar in the early '90s that played this--and Fulci's "City of the Living Dead"--on continuous loops throughout the night!

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  2. Dude.. Coolest.. bar.. EVER.. I would have to quit my job and take up alcoholism lol..

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  3. One of my all time favourites, blows me away every time I see it. And Will, that does sound like the most awesome bar ever!!!

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  4. An important film from a formal point of view, stylistically audacious, and a very subversive statement about rampant industrialisation. But the film treads perilously close to pretension in my view, and seems at times a little self-conscious in its worship of the 'body horror' of Cronenberg and the urban disintegration of Lynch's 'Eraserhead'.

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  5. Its growing on me Chris, though I literally couldn't even review it on the first watch through. Mind had officially been blown. Shaun I have to agree on all points, which is why I was unable to rate it any higher. There are some genius themes at work, and the stop-motion frequently impresses, but without knowing how much Tsukamoto was influenced by both Davids, it is difficult to claim that the work is wholly original.

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  6. Shame on me for not seeing this yet. Sounds a true must watch.

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  7. The both 'Tetsuo' films were very strange asian body mutation films but they're pretty interesting. I think they should continue making many weird asian body horror movies and should add thousands of weird air-bladders special effects. Hope they will make ten more new 'Tetsuo' movies and make them as crazy and eerie as the first two.

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